A father for the second time, Don Velasco wants you to feel less guilty about enjoying multisport and spending time with family
Lead photo by Jan Kopřiva/Unsplash
I’ve been a multisport enthusiast for more than 13 years already. Initially, when I got into fitness, I told myself “I’ll just try this out” and quit once I’ve accomplished a few milestones. It started with a five-kilometer run that eventually led to a marathon.
Eventually, I shifted to triathlons and gradually adjusted my goal from “just finishing any race” to “being an Ironman.” I always had an exit plan, perhaps as a way for me to justify the time, expense, and dedication I had to allocate to the sport. In the end, I let go of those easy ways out and decided to embrace the sport as a non-negotiable part of my life. I’ve never been happier since.
The problem with this sport is the amount of guilt we sometimes have to deal with
The problem with this sport is the amount of guilt we sometimes have to deal with. Yes we spend a lot of resources to maintain our athletic lifestyle but I’ve discovered a few hacks to make this endeavor more bearable. Here are a few things a parent or family man can do to balance multisport and life.
Choose your battles
It’s pretty common to associate the distance or duration of a race with the level of prestige associated with it. We always think longer is better, but it’s not about the length of the race, it’s about how you perform.
Don’t get me wrong, I love long-distance racing. In fact, there was a time when I’d consider myself a half-Ironman or Ironman specialist over a short- course racer. However, as I steadily had more responsibilities on my plate, I found it increasingly difficult to maintain that style of racing. I went against the trend and prepared my body for shorter and higher intensity efforts. This was usually unheard of since people say you lose speed as you age.
However, with the right mindset, training program, and approach, I’ve been getting faster even if I’m going up the age group brackets.
The thing I love about short-course racing (right around the Olympic distance mark) is that I can spend less time training daily. I no longer need to adjust my world to the long ride and long run days on the weekends. I can play around with the workouts: some weekends can be dedicated to intensity while “longer” aerobic sessions can be factored in during the weekdays. It opens up flexibility with regard to my schedule. More importantly, the total amount dedicated to training can be less (depending on the goals), so I also have more time for family and work.
Keep it inside (more often)
This is somewhat unpopular for a lot of athletes, but if you want to balance family life with your sport, you have to learn how to enjoy training indoors. Like most people, I thought I could never enjoy spending hours on the trainer. I told myself, I’d rather bear the heat, traffic, or even rain just to relish an outdoor ride. There’s nothing wrong with that; however, oftentimes, riding outdoors has a huge overhead in terms of time and effort.
The thing I love most about indoor training is that I could nail the intensity better—you can get higher quality workouts if you know what you’re doing
We don’t really have cycling-friendly roads in our cities so one would usually need to drive, park, and ride. Also, cycling alone is not recommended; finding a riding buddy or group is essential if you want to stay safe. At the same time, group rides don’t really prevent mishaps or accidents from happening. I remember stressing out my then-girlfriend (now wife), every time I’d ride out. It reached a point where I told myself that I’d rather save the time and effort and just train indoors.
With trainer-based work, I don’t only save on gas, food, and toll, I also save a lot of time. The time I saved can be allocated to more sleep, time with family, or work. Also, I’m not at the mercy of the elements and others’ availability, thereby contributing to better consistency. Lastly, the thing I love most about indoor training is that I could nail the intensity better. You can get higher quality workouts if you know what you’re doing.
Of course, this not only applies to cycling but to running as well. Buying a treadmill or subscribing to a nearby gym has similar benefits to biking indoors. The only difference is that the benefits of indoor cycling are more noticeable and tangible compared to indoor runs. Whatever type you choose, just make sure you’re able to “distract” yourself by making your workouts more bearable. Music, YouTube, movies and the like are nice ways to pass the time.
Make it a family affair
Yes, multisport is an individual sport. When we’re out on the race course, we are racing by ourselves. However, that doesn’t mean we can’t include our loved ones in the race experience. Personally, when I join a race, I try to make sure I can bring the family along so I can treat them to a nice weekend as well.
Our passion allows us not only to stay fit and healthy but also to add a little bit of spice to our days. In doing so, maybe we can rub off our active lifestyle to our loved ones as well
Of course, Saturdays are usually reserved for rest and relaxation; keep your activities light and relaxed. After the race, if you’re not too wiped out, you can spend some quality time with the family. Whether it be eating out, jumping in the pool, or engaging in other activities, it’s nice to catch up with those you love. You can even have the kids sign up for kid-specific events held the day before (e.g. IronKids and Pho3nix Kids).
If you’ve got an extra day or two, extend your stay and do some sightseeing. Whatever you choose, just make sure your family is able to build core memories with you and your racecation.
At the end of the day, the best decision I made was to not treat sports as a vice or liability. Rather, to think of it as a way of life. Our passion allows us not only to stay fit and healthy but also to add a little bit of spice to our days. In doing so, maybe we can rub off our active lifestyle to our loved ones as well.