How to Balance Parenthood and Triathlon Training

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Every triathlete knows it can be hard to find the time to train, especially when you have kids. From soccer practices to math homework to band recitals, your children's activities can easily take up the majority of your free time.

But Sandy Cranny, an age-grouper triathlete based in Boulder, Colo., thinks she has found the perfect balance of training, career and family.
So just how does Cranny find time to train and balance her busy schedule outside of triathlon? Here are some tips for those struggling to fit their training plans into their already full days.

Tip 1: Get Going Early

Cranny believes her ability to squeeze in effective training workouts, along with her various other responsibilities, is to get up early.

"It's all about the mornings. I get up around 5:30 and go train for a couple of hours," Cranny says. "With a babysitter in the morning, and the girls still asleep, I only miss out on a couple of hours with my daughters. Then I have the rest of the day with them. And that's great!"

Cranny is able to squeeze in about four hours of training each morning, while her husband opts to train (mostly) at night. This allows the two of them to make sure they aren't spread too thin when it comes to their kids.

"Our schedule really works. We really don't miss too much," Cranny says. "And that's the key. Don't ever miss too much when it comes to your kids."

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Tip 2: Train Less

It may sounds counterintuitive, but Cranny believes the limited amount of time she has to train actually makes her a more effective triathlete.

"As a physical therapist, I know that nearly 90 percent of your success at the start line is just showing up healthy," Cranny says. "And by being forced to train less, I'm actually fresh and feeling good at the beginning, throughout and after a race."

With that being said, you still shouldn't slack on your training plan. Make the most of the time you have by ramping up the intensity during your activity.

"I firmly believe in intensity over duration," Cranny says. "And a lot of the overtraining issues that triathletes encounter, I don't have. So I consider myself really fortunate to not be able to train as much. And it makes all the difference on race day."

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Tip 3: Get the Kids Involved

Cranny's oldest daughter was just seven when she and her husband first got seriously involved in the sport of triathlon, so their training schedules have been a familiar part of the family's lifestyle for some time.

"It's actually become harder as they've gotten older. I was surprised at that," Cranny says. "They're getting far more independent, but there are so many events and activities (in which they are involved). It's really hard to keep up."

Still, Cranny has found getting the kids invested in Mom and Dad's training is an easy way to get everybody on the same page.

"The kids will ask me 'When are you going to qualify for an Ironman? We want to go to Hawaii!'" Cranny remembers with a laugh. "They actually look forward to being at the finish line at midnight. And that makes it a whole lot easier when the training hours get long."

Tip 4: Commit to Training

Cranny knows there are parents out there who think they don't have time to train for a triathlon, let alone an Ironman.

But Cranny believes the same principle of triathlon training applies to starting any new fitness program. "People always say: 'I've got to get in shape before I can walk into a gym,'" Cranny says. "But you just need to start where you are."

By taking things slow, your training included, Cranny believes it's possible to find time to do everything you want to do.

"You don't want to miss the track meets or the soccer games or the recitals. And you shouldn't," says Cranny. "But it's okay to train too. I did it. So can you."

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