The Triathlon TriFecta Balance

150 150 Rich Strauss
Meredith Atwood of

Meredith Atwood of

Most of the time when I tell people that I’m a wife and a mother, they smile. Then I say I’m a lawyer, and I will see a mild grimace pass across their faces. Finally, when I mention that I love triathlon, I see a horror-stricken expression, which is inevitably followed by,

“What? How do you do it all? That’s craaaaazy?”

Balancing family and training is tough, I will not lie. But your family can be a great strength to your training. My coach, who I lovingly call Coach Monster, says, “I draw on my family, when I am racing or in hard training sessions. I draw on them as a source of inspiration – sometimes it causes me to cry. But it has allowed me to tap deeper and deeper into sources of strength.”

I find this to be true. I, too, draw strength from my family during triathlon training and races. I also find my strength is renewed, and I am able to be a better wife, mother and daughter after each training session.  I may drop my kids off at the gym activity center wanting to put them up for sale… but after a run, I pick them up and I am so glad to see them. The difference a few miles makes.

Admittedly, some families may be a detriment to your training. This is all part of the triathlon balance. Where my family is a positive for me, my profession is often the detriment. On the other hand, I have friends who work part-time or stay at home, but their families are completely unsupportive of their triathlon goals. We all have different circumstances. We all must balance what we must balance. Once we balance, then we must balance some more.

In horse racing terminology,

a trifecta is….

a bet in which…the bettor must predict
which horses will finish first, second,
and third in exact order.

– Wikipedia


Family. Work. Triathlon. The Tri-Fecta.

Which horse is going to win? Does one horse have to win? Can you make them all win?

Yes. I think so!

This topic requires a sobering reality. This is your life, and it’s up to you to make your life happen. Period. And it’s up to you to make it happen without excuses, without finger pointing, without “can’ts” and “buts” and “well…I would, however….”

Women are always weighing the logistics of things: How can I make this appointment between these hours? And who will pick up the kids? When can I find time to run? And forget swimming, who will do the laundry?

Coach Monster says, “You have a duty to yourself to find a way to get things done—rather than finding an excuse for why you didn’t.”

We must all begin to look at our TriFecta differently. Instead of “How can I possibly get this done?” We need to say, “I will get this done, and here’s my plan for how to balance it all today.”

Day by day, we make the plans. Not broad, sweeping and unwavering plans. We may need to roll with the punches. The morning run might get rained out from a diaper explosion; that’s fine, just get it done later that day. And if something tragic happens, then you move on and do better the next time. But you don’t simply allow yourself an “out.” You are better than that.

Most of us feel guilty putting ourselves or our training first. We are considered selfish and hardened. Maybe we think that of ourselves. Maybe we are scared that people will think of us as lesser mothers and wives for leaving the family for a bike ride. Maybe you will get evil glances showing up with wet hair at a family reunion or PTA.

But I say it all the time: what good are we to others when we feel like crap about ourselves? Do not worry about what others think about you. Take care of yourself. Make time. Prioritize and plan, and your Tri-Fecta will be three beautiful, manageable horses. Triathlon is all about learning to prioritize. I do not think training for an Ironman® is too much to ask out of my life. However, I am strongly convinced that cleaning my closet is waaaaaay too difficult to squeeze into my schedule. Therefore, the swim workout usually wins. And cleaning the closet loses. My health and training takes priority over a white-glove-clean house…sorry, but it’s true. (Very true.)

Guest Blogger — Meredith Atwood

Meredith is a wife, mother, attorney and half an Ironman. Her book, Triathlon for the Every Woman, is due out in December. She is taking on 2013 Coeur d’Alene in June, and trying to keep juggling the wife, mother, employee balance the best she can. She can be found glued to her computer at @SwimBikeMom on Twitter, on Facebook at and blogs at  

Interested in being a guest blogger for Endurance Nation?

We are always looking for quality triathlon and endurance training and racing related content for our readers and members — age group triathletes with real lives! Email us at [email protected] with Guest Blogger in the subject line.


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