Team TYR is constantly growing, and we don’t just mean our roster. From Ryan Lochte to Rinny Carfrae, many of our athletes are learning to balance their lives as professional athletes with the new challenges of parenthood.
And we know they’re not alone. Whether you are a competitive triathlete or simply trying to keep fit, we could all use advice when it comes to squeezing the most out of every day. So to help parents all over the world learn to adjust, we sat down with two of Team TYR’s resident experts, Dana Vollmer and Andy Potts.
While Olympian, IRONMAN Champion and IRONMAN 70.3 World Champion are great titles, Andy Potts is also proud to sport the designation of “dad.” With two children, Boston Thomas and Sloane, Andy has learned to split his time between training and family.
Similarly, 7x Olympic Medalist, 16x World Championship Medalist and American Record Holder Dana Vollmer is no stranger to the balancing act, either. In fact, she was merely seventeen months out from giving birth to her first son, Arlen, when she took home three medals in the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio. Since then she has given birth to her second son, Ryker, and continues to train as one of the world’s most elite level swimmers.
So how do they do it? Read on to find out.
What are your tips to creating a training schedule as a parent?
Andy Potts: Training can be tough when you’ve got kids. I try to take advantage of their schedule so I’m available during the high need times (pre school, post school and meals) and training when they are at sports or school. So, I swim in the morning before school begins, and I’m home by the time the kids are getting out of bed. Then as soon as they are at school my ride and running begins! The timing is ideal for me, but if you’ve got a job then early mornings have got to be your friend.
Dana Vollmer: My number one piece of advice would be to start off slow. It’s easy to think you can just jump back into what you were doing before having a child, but things are different. It does truly take time to find your rhythm with a new child. I definitely suggest beginning with what you know you can handle, and then adding on as you go. I also believe it is important to give yourself more than two weeks with a given schedule, so that you can really get into a flow. Once it becomes habit, workouts will feel energizing, rather than tiring.
How do you maintain balance between the two words?
Andy Potts: Balance is tough, but I’ve got a great partner who makes it look easy. I think the key to being a consistent parent and athlete is finding time to tend to your own needs, so that you are 100% there for your kids when they need you. I liken this to the airplane advisory that reminds you to make sure you are functional before helping others. I find that I can give more when I don’t need to be selfish with my training needs at the wrong times.
Dana Vollmer: The biggest thing is making your schedule work for you. I am definitely a morning person, so I use the early hours of the day to train before my kids are awake. This also allows them extra quality time to spend with their dad before I get home. In the afternoon I try to squeeze in a second workout. However, I’ve accepted that that won’t always look the same. Sometimes I can go out for a run, while other times I settle for squats at the park while Arlen plays or most of the time I’m right there running around the playground with him!
What’s the hardest thing you have experienced in transitioning to this new way of training?
Andy Potts: The biggest adjustment has to be the knowledge that you are responsible for another human being! The example that you set is noticed in everything that you do; the way you talk to your spouse, the way you handle adjustments, the way you approach your job, everything! I also noticed that a lot of the lessons that you are trying to teach your kids are taught through how you say it, more than what you’re saying.
Dana Vollmer: The hardest thing is that there is no down time. Being a parent means you have to be “on” and responsible all day. I want to set an amazing example for my sons. So, you have to train smarter. Be focused and train with intention during the time you have and I think emphasizing the importance of recovery can be really helpful here. Sometimes I have to take a step back when situations at home are demanding, that’s ok! It’s a constantly shifting schedule to make it work for everyone!
What is your advice to new parents who want to keep training?
Andy Potts: There are lots of folks who make fitness a priority as parents. The key to all of it is consistency. Set a schedule, train hard when you’ve got your window to train, and when you’re done for the day, leave it at the pool, trails, or gym. Then when you walk into your home, fully embrace your role as mom or dad!
Dana Vollmer: If you can get past the first two weeks of any kind of workout schedule, it WILL get easier. In fact, I think that now training energizes me as a parent. Aside from keeping me fit and in shape it also provides me with that “me time,” we all sometimes crave. Ultimately, take a look at the dynamics of your family and figure out how to make it work for everyone. Can you workout at home while your baby is napping? Can you get to a gym when you might have help at home? When can you catch up on sleep? The answer is slightly different for everyone, so as long as it feels good and your kids stay number one, that’s the most important thing!