Balancing Life, Not Triathlon
by Brady DeHoust
Does your life function inside the bubble of the triathlon world or does triathlon fit inside the bubble of your life?
Stripping away everything-triathlon from my world, I’m a husband, father, full-time IT professional, coach, friend, son and brother. If I tried to squeeze and balance those components of my life inside a world dictated by triathlon, I’d lose and my bubble would pop. Triathlon only fits when there’s balance amongst those things that weigh heavier in importance.
Being busy is a choice. When someone asks how things are going, my answer is predominantly, “we’re so busy” -- it’s the truth and it’s a choice. When things get quiet, we tend to look around at each other wondering what to do or what is wrong; it just doesn’t seem right. Going from one place to the next and managing a dynamic schedule can create stress, but we have mechanisms in place to cope with the stress and move forward.
If we simply operated every day on only the things that we needed to do for ourselves, we’d crash and burn. Being helpful when the “normal flow” is broken -- without angst -- is important. We also invest in teaching our kids ways to be helpful; things that they can do with a small bit of training to contribute to our standard routine.
Being more patient is something I may never nail but I will continue to work towards. Most importantly, I constantly remind myself that patience wins. I realize this most often after episodes of impatience. Admitting when I’ve faltered at a time when being patient would have “won” ensures I consciously work towards being less impatient. As a human, I know there are times when I’ll lose my patience; being vocal to my wife about knowing when those times of impatience resulted in unhappiness ensures I am always working towards better, thus becoming a better parent and husband.
We get tired -- because it’s a tiring lifestyle. Again, we choose this lifestyle so we rarely complain about feeling tired. Knowing that each and every day is going to be full with go-go-go, we put a lot of value on being rested. There’s a lot of stuff we could do at night that would prolong getting to bed but we choose not to in order to get all the rest we need to operate the next day. Being rested is also a critical component of having patience. When I’m tired, I become a lousy listener and often make less than desirable parenting choices. And rest does not always mean sleep time. We both need rest from parenting or being with the kids. When I take both boys to a sports practice for one of their teams, my wife has free time for two hours to not be a parent. It’s like plugging into the wall to recharge, and often, just a little charge is all you need to avoid being empty on energy.
Our biggest help with organization is an online Google calendar that we share and can both access and update. The calendar has everything we have going on -- short term and long term. It’s an essential tool we use to forecast days or weeks that will alter the “standard flow” so we are not blindsided and thrown off track. It has the kids’ weekly sports practice and game schedules, meetings, appointments, work schedules (travel), travel days, birthdays, holidays, big training days, races, and open days. The calendar is an essential component to our organization and planning.
“But this is Endurance Corner; a place to learn about how to train to race to our potential. What is all this other ‘stuff’ about?”
It’s about proper balance, so when you are ready to boost your weekly training to 15-20 hours per week to prepare for your next ironman, you have space to do so without causing headaches in the rest of your life. People ask me all the time, “How do you still do it?” It wasn’t such a big deal 10 years ago when I wasn’t a father and was just on my way to becoming a husband. There are lots of other things I have removed from my life to allow endurance sport to fit. I’m fortunate to have great friends who have not disowned me for seeing them far less than I did years ago. Rather than six hours away playing golf with buddies, I choose to use that six hours in the saddle. And I’d be terribly out of balance if I pulled in from a six-hour ride and shot off to the golf course. Choice.
Most importantly, when I don’t meet the requirements in our life to be patient, helpful, rested, and organized, the result is tension or negative stress at home. When there is tension between my wife and I, training is worthless. Training and exercise is not an outlet for me to cope with an unhappy home, and when things are sour, so is any training that follows. My family is my core support layer -- we are a team -- and ensuring happiness at home is vital to any successes in triathlon. Happiness at home necessitates a balanced life. Happiness in training necessitates a happy home. Find your balance and train happy.
Brady lives in Northern Virginia with his wife and two sons where he works as an IT software systems consultant. His biggest success is finding the ability to train and race at the top of the age group while balancing family, work, and everything else in life.