Thursday, February 2, 2012

Managing Your Spouse, Kids, and Career

Training for ultras, even if you go to great lengths to incorporate training in every element of your daily life, still takes significant time. Managing your family and/or professional life can be a challenge. If you don't have a spouse, kids, or even a job, ride that wave as long as you can. You'll never have this much free time. Well, at least for a number of decades.

Anyway, in the event you do have a spouse, kids, and/or a career, balancing these responsibilities can be a challenge. Here's some practical advice:
  • Set priorities. Mine always went something like this: Time with spouse, time with kids, ultra training, work-related stuff.
  • Develop a training schedule that has a minimal impact on other responsibilities. This may involve training after everyone else goes to bed or before they wake up in the morning.
  • If you have to miss a workout, don't fret. Missing a single workout isn't going to doom your plan.
  • Give your spouse plenty of time to follow their own hobbies. We all need our own “me' time. It may also help to lavish them with gifts.
  • Understand that most opposition to an ultrarunning spouse is rooted in resentment. The non-running spouse feels as if they are shouldering an unfair burden. Having open, honest communication about sharing responsibilities will usually cure this issue.
  • Bring your kids with you using a jogging stroller or, if old enough, have them ride their bike behind you.
  • Get your spouse hooked on running ultras, too.

When I was building my endurance base early in my ultrarunning days, Shelly and I were having lots of babies. When the babies got on a fairly reliable sleep schedule, I'd leave to run after they woke up in the middle of the night. This allowed Shelly to sleep for a few hours undisturbed and allowed me to stick to my training plan. As our kids aged, finding time to train became easier.



  1. Such crazy timing. My wife and I are having a few heavy discussions lately pertaining to just my PROPOSED running events in the future, not even including training for them. She even used the word 'resent' already. I got some work to do.

  2. I would also add a bullet point that stresses that you are 100% upfront about the potential time commitments. Don't say 3 hours when you know it'll be more like 4 hours. Share your race schedule ahead of time with your spouse, let them be part of the planning process from the beginning so they understand it and can take your schedule into account when planning family trips / time.