Training as a parent


#1

This should hopefully be a place for people to share their experience about training as a parent.

I’m particularly interested to hear from anyone who has managed to train with a newborn. I noticed a few Facebook posts on the topic recently and I became a dad for the second time this past Monday.

At the moment I’m planning on taking at least a couple of weeks off the bike completely so I can focus on my family first and foremost. Going forward I don’t have any expectations about about how much time I can commit or how well I will cope with sleep deprivation!

Anyone else going through the same thing? How are you planning on getting through it all?


#2

I took a year off for both of my kid’s births. TR was also in the early days so that took a lot of my time too.

I totally like the idea of taking 2 weeks off. You and your partner (if you have one) will get into a flow.

The only advice I have is to try to integrate your workouts with kid time. IE take the kid on a jog in a stroller. Your partner will be super happy that you’re working out! We also got a pack n’ play to put next to our bike trainer. You might have to get off your bike a few times but that’s OK.

In general manage expectations and overly communicate with your partner.


#3

With the first one up until age 2 I actually found it easier to train. My wife and I set aside time for each other (usually in the mornings) and it really worked. I ran 3 marathons in these 2 years…

Once the terrible 2’s started and the little one needed to be entertained more it all got a lot harder, throw in potty training, then deciding to have another child the wheels came off!

Fast forward and 2nd child has just started school the training is back on the agenda.

Planning and flexibility are key. I had planned a 2 hour ride before work this morning but had to make a trip to the doctors with a child so I had 45 minutes of VO2MAX at lunch.


#4

Congrats @willball12! My wife is due with our first in a little over a month so I appreciate you starting this thread… I’ve received a lot of advice (solicited and unsolicited) in the past few months, the best of which:

“Sleep when they sleep” (I will interpret this as “train when they sleep”)
Check out the specialty phase enthusiast plans for the time crunched athlete
Don’t turn down help from family and friends!
Make sure your partner gets the same opportunity to do what they enjoy (tag in / tag out)
Nate’s advice of getting the kid involved in workouts is definitely part of the plan (this one probably not until 6 months +)

Hopefully we can find a way to weave in the workouts! Best of luck.


#5

My son is now 12 (13 soon!) and when he was born I was a die-hard triathlete, training 10-12 hours a week. One thing I quickly learned is that sleep is important! Focus on the baby and your partner and train when and how you can. Remember your priorities!

@Nate is spot on with incorporating the child in your training. Trainer rides while the child is safely playing near you are great! This saved my sanity several times over the years! :wink:

Enjoy this incredible time!


#6

New Dad here as well, typing out this with him sleeping on me… our little guy is 5 months old now and sleep has been a major challenge. Before my son I was regularly in the 10-15 hours a week of training. Now I’m barely I’m barely getting anything in. I think so much depends on their sleep too. My son sleeps terribly at night and is up by 5 AM maybe 50% of days without much in between. I get out for runs or a bike ride on the days he doesn’t. Afternoons I’m rushing home from work to relieve my wife. It’s def hard, just adjusting expectations for a while and making sure son and wife are taken care of first.


#7

Congrats, it is an amazing journey!

My boys are almost 5 and almost 2 now, and I started with Trainer road about 3 years ago. Initially I’d just pick the hardest and shortest workouts I could and cram then in whenever I could, unsurprisingly this is a great way to burn yourself out and get sick.

Our situation at home is a little different as my wife runs a successful dance school and I work full time, so we kind of swap roles around 4-5pm and I get the boys fed and into bed, plus look after them on the weekends when she’s working. In the past I have greatly underestimated how much strain, even when things are going great, kids place on you and I have a few times taken way too much Training stress on leading to burnout and illness.

Some tips I’ve learnt:

  • Have everything set up and ready to go, its so much easier to chuck your kit on and ride if everything else is set up. What takes 2minutes to do the the night before takes 10minutes when you’re in hurry to get on the bike early in the morning.
  • Learn to love mornings or evenings! This takes time. I hated early morning rides but with some persistence I can now do 1:30 threshold sessions before breakfast.
  • Consistency is more important than big TSS weeks.
  • Reduce how much TSS you think you can do. Early on I found I’d do a big tss week then try and keep it going only to get sick or have to skip multiple workouts a couple of weeks later due to fatigue from sleep deprivation, and general kid related tiredness.
  • Take those riding windows when you can!

If anything being a parent has actually benefited my riding as I now have to be more organised and committed to get rides in so I don’t waste an opportunity when I have it. Also I’m far more structured in my training as result (but this is probably more due to TR and the podcast)


#8

Congrats @willball12!

I’ve personally never found a way to mix daddy duty with training. My son is two now and has always been an unpredictable napper and shallow sleeper, so training during naps is just a recipe for frustration and incomplete workouts.

I’m risking sounding like a marriage counselor, but communication has been the biggest key for us. I need to communicate my training schedule and how important it is to me to adhere to that schedule. Granted, I also need to plan that schedule while being mindful of my family’s needs and recognizing that training takes a backseat to family needs. That said, if my wife knows beforehand when I plan to train, we can plan around that. It usually means I get one on one time with my son after training so my wife can accomplish all that she needs to accomplish as well.

All about balance! If you put training in front of what matters most, I’d be willing to guess that will affect your training perhaps more negatively than positively. Not allowing ourselves the opportunities to fulfill our family responsibilities is a recipe for stress, and all stress affects your ability to gain training adaptation.

Finally, remember that a missed workout may seem frustrating, but in the grand scheme of things, a stable and healthy home is what really matters :love_you_gesture: .


#9

Congratulations @willball12!

I’m also in the two kids camp (3 and a half; almost 1 and a half). For my daughter, I wasn’t using TrainerRoad yet. She was born in January and we got her sleeping under control by the time the weather got better and the road season came around in April (I live in Vancouver, BC). So I did a lot of early morning rides and the Sunday morning club ride. I actually had a great road season.

It was a different story when my son was born last year. I got a smart trainer and subscribed to TrainerRoad a few months in advance of his birth in anticipation of not being able to get outside much. I got some club rides in right before he was born (end of April). For the first few months, I was able to stick to a low volume plan relatively well because he was a decent sleeper at first; I also commuted to work by bike (I really didn’t get out for any more club rides). It actually got harder around 4-5 months because he hit a big sleep regression and things got really tough for a few months. In hindsight, I still did pretty well all things considered.

The big thing is don’t insist on doing a workout when your wife/husband needs your help. Bailing on him/her when times are tough will build resentment. Accept that your fitness will take a hit and that it really doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. Every workout you are able to do, TrainerRoad or otherwise, is a bonus. If possible, do your workout the same time that your partner is. Once the kids are in bed, my wife will go to a fitness class and I’ll do a TrainerRoad workout in my garage (with the baby monitor).

Basically my advice follows everything else said so far.


#10

I currently have a 4.5 year old and a 1.5 year old and I echo everything that’s already been said. The two biggest things that have helped me stay consistent with my training are getting workouts done before everyone in the house wakes up and planning my week in advance. I was never a morning person so it took some time for my body to adjust, but now it’s not a problem to wake up and hop on the trainer.

I do triathlons so I have several days during the week that I need to try and get in two workouts. Every Sunday evening I look at my calendar and plot out exactly when I plan to do the workouts, i.e. before breakfast, over lunch, between meetings, etc. and put them on my google calendar. This helps to make sure I’m not scrambling each morning before work to try and figure out what I need to “pack” for the day.


#11

As someone else has said I found until he started talking training was easier but now he is a little person in his own right it’s harder when he asks why I’m going out without him. I’ve not trained him to be the drinks master holding my water bottle while I’m on the trainer. The most important thing is I let him know why I do it, when he asks why I train I tell him if you want to be good at anything you have to work hard.

I changed my life when he was on his way going from 17st to 12 and sedentary to a triathlete and now it’s important that that continues to improve our lives


#12

Congrats to you! I am a similar situation to you with my elder kid being almost 3 and the other just 7 months old.

I typically train at night as both the kids sleep pretty early and the younger 1 has began sleeping through the night. Finding time to train wasn’t the challenge for me, finding the energy and motivation was the challenge as its tough to dig deep after a full day in the office, playing with the kids when I get home and doing my share of chores around the house.

Recovery was the tricky bit for me during the first 6 months of the new baby. I quickly realized that recovery can only go so far when you wake up a couple of times in the night due to the baby needing to feed. What works for me is to reduce the number of intense session in the week. For example I will do the scheduled Tuesday workout and do endurance work on other days of the week and also a fairly hard group ride on 1 of the weekends.

One thing that I have to accept that I wouldn’t always be able to follow the schedule and workouts frequently have to be shifted by a day or two, either due to my legs still feeling fried and/or just feeling exhausted after the kids finally go to bed.


#13

We’ve got a 2-month old and a 2-year old. I’m actually training more than I have for a while, but I have to fit it in to odd times. Fortunately, both our boys are good sleepers so I can fairly predictably plan workouts around when they’ll be awake. For me, this means either getting up at 5am to fit in a workout before our 2-year old wakes at around 7, or waiting until later in the evening (around 8pm) when they’re both in bed. Occasionally I can fit in a weekend lunchtime workout when our 2-year old is napping, but his naps are too variable to really plan around that.

Generally, the 5am workouts work best for me. I’m done before the rest of the family wakes up, get to spend the evening with my wife, and don’t miss any time with the kids. If I fail to get up and have to do the workout in the evening then it can make the next morning’s workout tough as there’s not much recovery time in between and it’s impossible to refuel properly, so I try to be as consistent as possible. If I know that I’m going to have to do an evening workout followed by a morning one then I make sure that the morning one is an easier workout.


#14

I dont have a newborn but I think its better to train, get 12 times off the trainer to help your partner or your kid and get 13 times back on your bike than just skipping any training. Its different but you are in a different position right now. Make the best of it. And theses are the stories that are told on the 21 birthday of your kid. :slight_smile:
And do some alternate training like @nate mentioned. Go for a jog and take the kids with you.
And last but not least: congrats!


#15

A lot of stuff here is really resonating with me!
I’m the proud dad to a 7 month old girl and she has turned out world upside down…but for the better of course!

I used to cycle every single day, sometimes putting in over 300km a week but wasn’t seeing any real progression - I had definitely plateaued and was just riding around at 80% effort all the time, feeling knackered and wondering why I wasn’t getting any faster.

Since the little one arrived everything changed.
I now only have time for a 2 hour outdoor ride at the weekend (after discussion with my better half, we came to the decision that I could go out one morning and she could sleep in the other morning - its all about compromise!)

During the week I had to find a solution - I started getting up at 5:45am following the time crunched 30 plan on Trainerroad (using a Lifecycle GX spin bike with power tap P1 pedals equipment wise, although hoping to move to a Tacx Flux S over the next few months).

Having this set up permanently definitely made it much easier to just get up and jump on, as any extra hassle would have definitely put me off.

I was sceptical at first, as I was so used to high volumes of training and was really worried my fitness would degrade.
I finished the initial training plan on Sunday and after another ramp test I’m amazed to discover my FTP has actually improved by 4%. I’ve never trained less, but never gained more! It just goes to show that its definitely quality over quantity - I actually look forward to my Trainerroad workouts as I know they are tailored exactly to make me faster, and the constant variation makes sure I’m never bored of doing the same workout.

I can’t wait to go through all the plans and choose what to do next.
I have also now started to do short HIIT sessions alongside my wife 2-3 times a week which have been great motivation and a lovely shared experience for us.

I have to say it was very, very hard adjusting with the baby at the start - no training at all for the first 4 weeks.
It wasn’t all plain sailing and there were times I definitely resented not being able to train - very childish on my behalf. As the months have progressed i’ve been able to see the bigger picture and agree that family comes first and you work whatever training you can around the time you have available.

With so many options available from within Trainerroad, there will always be a workout to suit whatever time and goals you have - it really is like having your own virtual coach showing you the best way forward.

@Nate and the team support the product well, and I see there are new features in the pipeline which I can’t wait to hear about. Trainerroad has definitely made me fitter and faster, but also smarter in my training.
I’ve also found the podcasts now too which I listen to while training - exercise for mind and body!

Anything which gives me more time with the family while still allowing me to see gains from a performance point of view has to be applauded!


#16

I have a 10 week old at home and luckily she is a good sleeper at night, so that certainly helps. Took time off after she was born off course but was able to get back into it during my time off of work afterward.

But the main thing is simply communicating with my wife and talking about what kind of schedule works. I feel like you can’t necessarily count on only getting stuff done when they sleep. My wife has been incredibly flexible & that helps, but so far I have a full SSBII Mid(ish) volume plan done. I skip the Wednesday workout and keep anything Tuesday & Thursday to an hour directly after work.

As my daughter gets a bit more active & sleep patterns change I’m sure this will change so I’m trying not to plan out things too far in advance, but at the moment I have a low volume general build going and then adding a Sunday workout onto it if the situation permits.


#17

My little one is 2 now, but I still found time to ride when she was a newborn. For the most part, I’m still keeping a similar riding schedule. When I can, I ride while she’s sleeping. Either during naptime, or at the end of day after bedtime. Sometimes I’ll get out of work early enough to get a ride in before picking her up from daycare. And occasionally I’ll have after hours work scheduled, which will free up my mornings. I find it is easiest on the days when I can drop my kid off at daycare, go home, hop on the bike, shower, and then go to work. I’ve also tried doing early AM rides before everyone else woke up, but found these hardest to do. Both because I’d have to get up super early, and even then, my baby was usually up before I finished anyway.

The only way I found it to work to ride during naps/bedtime, is for my wife to be available incase she’s needed. The rides I did on my own during naptime had a good chance of having the baby monitor go off, which then would throw off the workout. Sometimes I’d be able to put her back to sleep, other times the ride just ended early.

In exchange, I’d make sure to make a point to allow my wife time when she could do the fun things she wants to, when I’m responsible for the baby, so she gets a break sometimes also.

Schedule wise, I had a hard time keeping to the mid volume plans. It was just hard to keep that consistent of a schedule for weeks on end. Looking back over my calendar, there aren’t a lot of times more than 3-4 weeks where I was able to really stick well to the plan. Currently I’ve been going through on low volume, and adding in dog walk/runs, and also a weekly 2+ hours of racquetball. Stress wise it seems easier to manage, but I haven’t been on this plan long enough to decide if it helps me better stick to the plan.


#18

The pending birth of our 2nd (also have a 3.5 y/o) was part of the motivation to get a trainer and work out in the garage - that and the shorter days that make long rides before or after work a difficult proposition.
I’m planning to get after it early in the morning before mom and the kids are up.


#19

I’ll echo what others have said. Family must come first. Otherwise you risk your entire world falling apart.

As for the training, have a conservative plan but then communicate when you’d like to have your bike time. Just know that your spouse’s time is important as well so prove to them with your actions that you value their time more than your bike time. Your bike can be replaced, spouse not so much.

Don’t beat yourself up if you miss a workout or if the family interrupts your training. Make them apart of the process.

I’ve tried both morning and evening routines. For my family life, it’s easier to do evenings. I have all my stuff setup ready to go, to include water bottles and such prior to my workouts.

“Wherever you are, be all there.” Jim Elliot


#20

I have a 5 year old and 2 year old and I have found that what works best for me is to simply plan my training time for when my family doesn’t need me. Most days I use my lunch break at work to train. Some days this is an outdoor ride, but most days I haul my kinetic road machine to the gym and set up my bike in a corner with a fan and a tablet. On days where I know I won’t be able to use my lunch break I get up early and train before the rest of my family is out of bed.

I am fortunate in that I have a job where I can be very flexible with my lunch break. My boss understands how important my training is to me and doesn’t mind if I stretch my lunch here and there, as long as I hit my billable hours for the week.

There are two down sides to this method. One is that I very rarely get to do more than a 75 minute ride, but I have still managed considerably FTP improvements (thank you coach Chad for all of the excellent workout variations). The other is that my rest days are stacked on top of one another (Saturday and Sunday). This can lead to some tired legs by the time Friday rolls around and I have done 5 consecutive days of training, but it allows me to be completely present for my kids during the weekend.

I will grant you that this method only works if you have a desk job where you can eat after your lunch break, but it has worked well for me.

Congratulations to the parents to be! My kids are the best thing that has ever happened to me, and there isn’t a day that goes by that they don’t amaze me and make me smile.