TTH Race Team Athlete Jason Walkley - Training around a new born baby
In this blog, TTH Race Team Athlete Jason Walkley describes how he manages to fit training for IRONMAN racing around a full time job and two young children. The reality of being a top age group athlete means that flexibility and adaptability are key to getting the training done when finding the time and motivation is hard to come by.
It's currently 3am on a Tuesday morning, I am due to go to work in 4 hours’ time, no its not race day and I am not about to do a big training day, so why am I up at this hour you may ask?
Well, 7 weeks ago, my wife gave birth to our second child, this time a baby girl, to accompany our son who is now 3.5 years old. How time flies, when Josh was born I had just left the RAF and started my journey on the TTH Race Team.
Back then my wife Alex and I had no idea on how training and general life worked with a baby in the house, it was a massive learning curve but we quickly settled into a nice routine and although I was tired I still managed to train for IRONMAN UK.
Fast forward 3.5 years and I already had a plan of how I would attack my final 2 months of this season with a new addition in the house. I’ve done this before, I know what to expect and more importantly know how to work around the late nights, middle of the night and early morning wake up calls and still train.
How wrong could I be………
Although we know all the ‘looking after a baby’ things like changing nappies with your eyes closed, dressing/undressing/dressing/undressing saga that goes on several times a day because of sick and poo issues….
It’s the sleepless nights that have really hammered me this time round. I found that I could barely turn the pedals on my bike and running was really hard work. I usually find it really easy to wake up early and get a training session in before work, even when Josh was Amelia’s age I found it easy to do this. Not being able to complete training sessions due to tiredness has been hard to take and something that has been the biggest surprise of how different/difficult it has been second time round.
The lack of sleep, together with the extra dynamic of a 3.5-year-old and me having to go to work (I didn’t have a job when Josh was born!) is really difficult to juggle, which leaves me with the question of ‘
when can I actually fit any training in?
To deal with this it has been a case of doing little and often, I tried to get out whenever I had a spare 30 mins or so, to build consistency back into my life. The plan is still a work in progress. I have decided to pull from my remaining races through to the end of 2017, just so I can have a proper rest from training and try and work out a plan that will work ready to hit the ground running next year.
I am now enjoying training more as a result of doing more frequent ‘zero focus’ sessions. I think approaching training in this way is key in the early days so you can share the workload of the family and not place too much pressure on yourself and your need to hit certain sessions.
This wind down and zero focus on training is my sacrifice to make our incredible family work. However, we do have a ‘deal’ where towards the end of 2018 when things settle down and become easier, I will switch back to full training and start training towards my goal of a sub 9-hour IRONMAN in 2019. I will still have to juggle family life, a full-time job and the demands of IRONMAN training again but I know we will be in a better place in a years’ time and have more understanding of what works and what doesn't.
There is nothing more demanding than a new born baby in the family and my advice to anyone going through this or thinking of it, is to be super flexible with your time, don’t expect too much from your body during the first few months and support each other with everything. Your partner will be more forgiving when you do say you want to pop out for a training session.
Despite all this upheaval, having a child is the single most amazing experience anyone will experience in life and I highly recommend it to anyone!