I am a husband, father, corrections officer and athlete. In that order. Prior to kids and career time was not a problem and what I lacked, in retrospect, was structure. I generally tried to do one speed workout and one threshold workout per week, but often didn’t even fit those workouts into my 100+ mile weeks. Now when I am lucky to get in even a quarter of the miles I used to be running structure is KEY to being able to perform on a competitive level. There are four steps I use to accomplish this and maintain balance.
- Select your events carefully
- Be Specific in your training
- Determine what your essential workouts are and stick to them
- Include your kids and family whenever possible
- For some it may be possible to be a serial racer, have a career and be a good family man. For me however I have to be selective if I want to be successful. First off I work every other weekend so that automatically shoots down many of the events I would like to do. On top of that if you want to be successful you can’t be in top shape for a 5k PR on weekend and then be ready for an 8 hour obstacle race the next weekend. Decide what you want to succeed at and focus on that. It’s OK to throw in a fun off the menu event but don’t devote too much training to it if it’s not helping you with your goals for the season, or taking too much time away from family and work.
- Be specific. Once you have determined what you want to focus on actually focus on it. If you want to compete in Olympic lifting you need to build strength and power. For me this past year my focus was on OCR events which basically breaks down training into three categories: running, grip strength, and heavy carries (depending on the OCR event). I see a lot of people doing OCR’s the hit the gym HARD and while this does not hurt anything setting a new bench press PR down not equate to successful and efficient completion of obstacles. If you have the extra time great, but if you’re forced to crunch time to fit in workouts focus on improving the strength and skills you will use out on the course!
- Determine what your essential workouts are and stick to them! For me in OCR this means separating each of the categories I listed above and determining what I need to do to improve in each one of them. This is an overview so I will just use running as an example. To improve as a runner there are 6 workouts that I see as essential to improving as a runner, these are: Speed, power/form, aerobic threshold, long run, a race specific workout and a fun day. I work out a 2 week cycle that includes each of these workouts. Any other runs are bonus and are done at an easy pace. And remember, be specific and remember the purpose of each workout. If you are building speed don’t do 10 x 1000’s. That is a race specific workout for 10k. More is not always better. Your speed workouts should be reserved to build SPEED which does not require a large number of repeats or miles. The same goes for each of these workouts, remember the purpose of the workout and focus on that. For the fun day, do what you love. This helps keep things fresh and helps keep you motivated and on track which can be just as important as any of your hard workouts. If you love to lift heavy but are focusing on endurance events this is your day to lift heavy. For me this is my adventure day and usually includes running or biking paired with rock climbing, or a good long hike with the family. While this still fits in nicely with my overall plan it is just as important as a refresher that keeps “training” from feeling like work.
- Include your kids and family whenever possible! For me being an example of health, fitness and outdoor adventure is an important part of what I do and if I didn’t get my kids and family out with me I would be neglecting a large part of why I get outside and get active in the first place. Get your kids in the stroller for your easy runs, take them out for a hike, if they are up to it get them in the kids race at your next event. I have even built an obstacle course in the basement with monkey bars, cargo net and rock wall that my kids play on while I work-out. They love it and most importantly they are getting great exercise while we are all spending time together as a family.
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