The Training Corner

Mountain Grit: Training for the Long Haul

Q: Hi Pat! I am flat-out scheduled to the max right now. No, I am not whining, but I am concerned that my fitness is taking a dive. I’m a working wife and a mother of two, and new to this kids-sports-schedule thing. Granted, this is short-term, but it's the reality of many working moms, moms who are used to being fit and active in their own right.

I have a 7th grade trackster and Babe Ruth baseball player, and a 4th grade minors player (with a splint on a broken wrist!). Both have practices and games 5 evenings/week. My husband works full time typically during normal business hours, but does have occasional evening / weekend commitments. I make it a priority to get nutrient-rich food on the table to fuel our family, and I’m on top of the whole food / protein requirements for growing, athletic bodies. YES to the crock pot! I love to run, skate ski, or do a high intensity Pilates/Barre fusion sort of strength class in the afternoons, but just can’t fit it in right now.

This is my typical weekday schedule:

5:40 AM - Wake up/Coffee/ chores (dog, cat, chicks)

6-6:30 - 30:00 yoga, no cardio

6:30 - Drive son to feed his 4H pigs

7:00 - Finish breakfast [my husband starts it]; pack lunches for all four of us

7:50 - Walk kids to school

8:15-4:30 - Work at a desk job with some standing desk time; throw in marches, minisquats, stretches, dips & pushups occasionally

4:30 - Wrap up dinner, pack snacks and layers

4:30-5:30 - Transport at least one kid to their game or practice or eat dinner, then get them to a home game

5:30-8:30 - Game time! We try to walk during the games instead of sitting but it's definitely not "working out"

8:30 - Rush to get kids in bed and meals started for next day

9:00 - Glass of wine and collapse

Our weekends include hikes, yard work and a good long yoga session. Recovery! I meal prep, including extra meat for the upcoming week’s lunches.

Pat, do you have any DO-able tips on surviving this kidssports season without sliding backwards in my own fitness?

Jamie, 38

A: Jamie, I hear you loud and clear, having raised two very athletic all-seasons-GO kids. First and foremost, you ARE optimizing your schedule, all in the best interests of your family. Do NOT, I repeat, do NOT beat yourself up about scaling back some of your training. Reasons to scale back temporarily are not the same as excuses to slack off. Plus your mindset is positive and solution-based, something that your kids will appreciate later on in life.

Consider these DO-ables:

1. Continue your 0700 daily yoga practice, and a longer recovery session on the weekends. If your poses flow, and include strength and power moves, great. If not, consider adding some elastic band resistance for upper body pull work, while lunging, squatting, hinging or in any single leg stance, like Pull-Aparts in a Tree pose.

2. Remember that all movement matters, and walking is loaded with benefits. But if you love to run and are injury-free, walking doesn’t cut it for you, right? But hiking up a steep slope does!! So, scope out the practice-game surroundings, and ALWAYS be dressed to train, with your shoes in the car.

At the baseball or track venues, are there any hills, inclines or even empty bleachers around? With 5 evenings of practices/ games, select TWO evenings for training. Heh, grab some other Moms and Dads while you’re at it. Consider this:

• Monday, perform 5-10 repeats of hill runs or bleacher climbs; push hard [not MAX]; recover for 30-45 secs between each bout. Short bouts of high-intensity work give the cardiovascular system a huge bang.

• Wednesday, run for 20-30:00; include some 3:00 bouts at a faster pace or steeper incline [See Fartlek].

• On the other evenings, barring a game or meet [where you want to watch your kids], go for a comfortable 20-30:00 run or BRISK walk.

• If you are comfortable leaving the venue during practices, hit the closest gym, and fill your strength-power-stamina bucket. There is always the local Masters track club, too.

3. At work, you have a good repertoire of screen-breakers; just do them daily and at least every hour.

4. Enjoy your weekends to recover and regenerate. If a hike or bike ride is possible, get out and soak up the sunshine and fresh air.

In closing, Jamie, keep your health and well-being in the forefront. This is NOT being selfish. For fact, fortifying your personal Hardiness Pillars, self-care, NOT self-absorption is the means to being YOU as a wife and Mom working full-time.

Your schedule is temporary, but likely to repeat for several years. So look ahead at the upcoming year. Make note of seasons to shift training gears. When the schedule lightens up, that’s your window to bolster your reserve capacity by fortifying your Pillars and refilling and restoring your 7S Training Buckets. A shift is never a quit.

Persist with your life-long commitment to being physically active in labor and play, and TRAIN so you CAN!

As for the 9:00 wine and collapse, it’s probably more like wind down and relax. That’s a good thing, as long as you sleep like a rock.

Having trouble with reasons versus excuses, contact Pat through www.activeandagile.com or www.movingmountainsmt.com. For more on Pillars, Buckets and training tips from Pat, see previous editions of Mountain Grit.

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