Balancing Ironman Training with Motherhood and Work: My Journey of Dedication and Juggling

Introduction: The Realities of Ironman Training

Let me be honest upfront – balancing Ironman training with being a mum and handling work commitments is no walk in the park. The guilt, the juggle – it’s all too real. I still vividly remember the day I came home from a 5-hour training ride, briefly said hi to my kids, and headed out for a 1-hour 40-minute run. My 8-year-old daughter looked at me and asked, “Mum, why do you have to go out for a run now – you’ve been out all day…” Understanding the training required for this challenge is tough for young kids and, truth be told, for a 39-year-old woman like me as well.

The Mum and Wife Guilt: Real and Raw

Dealing with the guilt of being away for long hours was one of the toughest parts of my Ironman journey. My daughter’s innocent question struck a chord. But breaking down the challenge into manageable pieces, planning ahead, having a coach, and a supportive network made the guilt a bit more bearable. It’s not easy, but it’s doable but still bonkers – that was my first thought when I finished Ironman Portugal: “That’s a completely bonkers challenge!”

Early Mornings and Efficient Use of Time: Keys to Success

Early mornings became my training ground. Turbo sessions at 6 am, pool time at 6:30 am, long rides with friends at 7 am on Saturdays, and early Sunday morning runs to support my kids at junior parkrun. Training during my kids’ activities became a norm – a run in the woods during football practice or hitting the gym while they had swimming lessons. It’s all about making every moment count.

Juggling Work and Training: Finding the Right Balance

Balancing work commitments with Ironman training required planning. With various sources of employment (First Days, MST Events, Reading Rascals, Edgbarrow School and chair of Wooden Hill School Fundraisers) some offering flexibility and others with fixed schedules, knowing my work diary months in advance helped in planning effectively. Taking an unpaid sabbatical month off work (thank you Emma at First Days Children’s Charity!) during crucial training periods was a bold move, but it made a significant difference.

The Duration of the Ironman Training Journey

I didn’t wake up one day and decide to do an Ironman; it was a journey. Focused training started about nine months before the event – just like a pregnancy, as I like to joke. The mental start was a cycle ride between Christmas and New Year, and from that point on, I was all in but it wasn’t always linear….I had hip issues along the way along with an ear infection that flawed me for two weeks. But we didn’t give up….

A Diverse Range of Athletes: Ironman Brings Everyone Together

Ironman events attract a diverse group of participants – first-timers, pros, and those with double-digit Ironman finishes. During the event, the variety of individuals became apparent, inspiring stories of older athletes and those walking the marathon with sheer determination.

Overcoming the Fear of Swimming: Lessons and Community Support

For those struggling with swimming, lessons from experienced teachers and joining a triathlon club with coached sessions can make a world of difference. Committing to swim with friends turned a solo activity into something enjoyable and less daunting.

Completing an Ironman isn’t just about physical endurance; it’s a journey of dedication and balance. Balancing motherhood, work, and Ironman training requires determination, planning, and a strong support network. It’s not easy, but as my journey shows, it’s transformative. Ironman training isn’t just about crossing a finish line; it’s about finding strength within, overcoming guilt, and pushing boundaries.

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About the author Ellie Barnes

Ellie is widely qualified and experienced within the fitness industry and she also competes at a high level so she knows at first-hand what it’s like to set demanding goals and achieve them.

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