One of the things I struggle with in my training is figuring out how much time I can devote to it.  If I had it my way this would be my full time job (if you want to hire me just let me know). But it can’t be.  There is a mortgage to pay. There are children to love.  There is husband to be with.  There are things that I cannot neglect.  As a result, there are days when I feel like my training is a very selfish thing to do.  The other things in my life need my attention but all I want to do is run or bike.  This is something I am greatly conflicted about.  How much time can I take for ME? Yes, the training makes me a happier/healthier person so it does benefit my family; but it is still a little selfish in a way.  I do all I can to train at times that don’t affect my family.  I get up during the week very early so I can be home by 6:00 AM.  But there is no way to avoid long workout hours on the weekend if you have dreams of doing a full Ironman.

Not only is it a drain on time (something I have very little), but it is a drain financially as well.  Those of you that do triathlons know that it is a very expensive hobby.  And when you train a lot you want to do as many events as you can.  This all costs money.  So I often feel very selfish for using our money for something that is mostly for my benefit.  My husband doesn’t do half the stuff I do when it comes to this. Not because he can’t, but because he is letting me do it.  And for this I feel selfish.

I also feel selfish because for the first time in my life I am doing well in something I never thought I could do!  And I want it all to myself!  I don’t want to share.  (I know that sounds terrible) Not only that, but this is the ONE part of my life I am in control of.  If it is taken away from me I would be devastated.

I don’t know what the answer is or what the proper compromise will be.  I guess we will just figure it out as we go along.  I just hope my selfishness doesn’t hurt those I love.


  1. It’s a fine line indeed.

    There is no work/life/family balance there is only balance time, money and attention it’s just like schedule, scope and cost right, one thing takes and something has to give!

    If you figure it out let me know!

  2. I wouldn’t say it’s selfish. You are doing something that is very important to you, and have your family’s blessing. Face it, you will not be able to run triathlon’s forever, but being that you can do it now is something special. It is a great part of you, and it is something that gives you a definition of who part of you is. You aren’t just a triathlete, you are a wife and mom as well, but doing something you love, helps you appreciate those parts of your life even more. Being selfish is just training all day and not giving a damn about anything else. You balance it in, which shows you care, because you take time in your life to fit it in. Waking up early to train is a sacrifice you bear, so your family can get its attention they deserve. Take pride in those gains, but also know you are where you are because your family is right by your side.

  3. Most of us are in the same boat. I’m especially careful that my three girls don’t view my training as a negative thing. I want them to love working out! I’ve started to incorporate them into my routines when I can, such as having my 7yr old bike next to me when I run. I’ve got her up to an hour and fifteen minutes. She enjoys feeling like she’s helping and that’s my goal. Good luck trying to find your balance!

      1. Yes, when I trained for my first few marathons and my daughter was 9 or 10, I used to have her often ride alongside me on my long runs (10-17 miles). Recently (last October at age 13) she did the Long Beach marathon Bike tour with my husband. She rode the course of 26.2 miles early that morning before the marathon. I know she felt very proud of her accomplishment. It is her longest bike ride to date. This summer she is going to train with me to do her first triathlon (Hansen Dam in August). I like that she will be swimming, biking and running with me this summer. It will keep her active, healthy and gives us something to do together…time to spend together.

  4. Great post. I totally know what you mean. I have been dealing with the same feelings the last few weeks as I am training for my first sprint tri. I have two little boys who were both out of daycare sick this week. I am now behind in my training but when it comes to sick kids a triathlon is so far down on my list. Both boys were feeling great this afternoon/evening so me and the hubs are hoping to get in a 30 mile ride tomorrow if they get to go back to school.

  5. 2 years ago when I even started thinking about doing an Ironman, a friend and Ironman finisher told me…marriages and families will suffer when you train for an Ironman…be sure that both your wife and family are on board before you make the commitment. I filed that away because I wasnt thinking of doing an Ironman until 2012. Fast forward to last October, I sat my wife and grown children down and told them I wanted to do the Vineman 70.3 and that for 4 months, I would spend a lot of time training and my time would be limited. Everyone agreed and when I got my training plan, my wife and I sat down and went over it so she could see what to expect.

    After spending 18 weeks on my LA Marathon training plan and now 16 weeks on my Vineman plan, I am realizing that I dont have the time to both train and get some things done that I want to do. (Finish my 69 camaro, projects around the house, etc) So as I told you on Saturday, I am probably going to push my Ironman back from 2012 to “before I turn 50” in 6 years.

    My best advice is to communicate with both your husband and family about your training/purchases/etc. Finishing an Ironman is a huge accomplishment, but being a great wife and mother is a much bigger achievement. You’ll figure it out.

    1. Laying out the plan ahead of time and setting clear expectations of what the training will be is key! I always find more and more stuff to do. That is where I have to back off. Thanks for reading and commenting!

  6. Realization time, huh? Yes, it is selfish of you to only think about training in terms of the races that you do. And yes, it’s selfish to be spending your families money on this. But, knowing you, I think that your husband would raise a red flag if there isnt the money for races. And your family is getting a happier and healthier wife and mother out of the deal. When ironman training you need to listen to your body and take a day off when you just can’t do it anymore. You also need to listen to your family and take time fir them when they need it. You not only become a great swimmer, cyclist and runner, you become a great balancer too. This selfish feeling us shirt lived, just hang in there

  7. I can totally relate–another option, similar to what mhutto suggested, is to use a baby jogger or bike trailer and bring your kids with you (I’m not sure how many/what ages you have). Some of the best times my daughters and I had when they were young were when we went for a run/ride together. You might have to go slower/shorter than normal but you might be able to make it work for you. Using a trailer is good resistance work, maybe take them on only part of your workout, or just bring them along on your easy runs.

    I just have to share my most memorable run with my oldest. She got out of preschool early because of snow–I took her to a park w/baby jogger. Big fluffy flakes, near total silence except for my 3-yr-old’s play-by-play of the weather. It was like running in a poem.

    Good Luck!

  8. I don’t have anything insightful to say, but just a “me too” comment. I do most of my training during the day when hubby is at work and child is at school. And she’s getting older (14 next week) so she doesn’t mind if I’m off for an hour or two for training on an afternoon. But yah, it’s expensive and time consuming and selfish. So far no one is complaining to me about it…trying to find balance.

  9. I feel that way too about spending lots of money on this tri stuff, and I haven’t even done one yet! I’m “lucky” that I don’t have kids to juggle in the mix of training, there’s no way I could train as much as I do if I had kids, so major props to you for training and being a mom with other priorities.

  10. I agree with you. Accurately you pointed the aspect of selfishness in athletic activity. As for me, i incorporated exercises into daily routines which are bicycle commute, & lunchtime run. If I need more, I try to detour to the office by all night run. I wish you make a wise choice in distributing time for your athletic activity as ever.

  11. I hear you! I had these same thoughts while doing my long run on Saturday. As I was thinking about it, I even wondered if it was selfish to devote the thinking during my long run just to me and not planning all of the millions of other things I have a responsibility for. Thanks for sharing your experience!
    By the way, my favorite sentence “There are children to love.” Short sentence, but really touched my heart.

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