Traveling to Races with Kids

Last night we packed up our car almost to the max with two bikes on top, the double chariot in the back behind the kids with gear and bags everywhere in between. After a pit stop for dinner in Canmore and another one along the side of the highway for Nico to puke everywhere on top of me (ugh! carsickness or a random bug I’m not sure) we made it halfway to my next race venue and it is funny to think how much more orgnaization it has taken over the years to get to races as I’ve changed sports and now added kids to the fun!

My pre-race checklist sure has expanded since I began competing as a runner in junior high! I will always love the simplicity of running. All you need to remember is your shoes, and running gear which is so easy to pack  anywhere! Although on one memorable occasion at one cross-country race in University I did actually forget my race spikes and ran the entire 5 km with my feet swimming in larger spikes borrowed from a male teammate.

When I got into mountain bike racing after finishing my undergrad degree, I was a little overwhelmed with all the new things I had to learn on top of just staying my bike and “keeping the rubber side down” as they say. I suddenly had to learn how to maintain a bike. Although I’m still not a very good mechanic I at least know the basics pretty well like fixing a flat, changing a tire, fixing a chain, and how to keep my bike clean so it was ready to go for race day! And then there is the gear to remember: helmet, glasses, gloves, extra tubes, tires for changing trail conditions, bike pump, CO2’s for race day, gels, and bottles for race day. Plus good race preparation involves riding the course and learning all the technical sections for race day, not just a short run with few strides like before my track races, ha!

Doing Xterras and triathlons the gear list increased again to include swim gear, run gear, and “transition gear”, things you want to have on hand in the transition area between swim to bike and bike to run during the race like a towel, extra food and drink. And when you add babies and kids into race plan the usual mommy checklist has to be added as well!

As with any new venture I started by making an actual list which eventually turned into just a mental checklist and now with much practice with all of the above checklists I’d like to say I’m able to remember most things automatically! Over the past 3 years traveling to many races with kids, most of them being on the plane and few pieces of gear have made things a little easier when packing the kids such as:

1. The Chariot Carrier is great for getting around on rough ground at a race venue. Believe it or not, the single chariot can even be checked at the gate when boarding a plane. Or if you prefer you can pack it in a travel bag and check it. My double chariot when packed in the travel box is almost as big as my bike but it gets checked for free because it is a “stroller”! Otherwise, any stroller in which a little one can nap it works great!

2. The Ergo baby carrier is great for carrying a little one around at a race, on your front as a baby, and on your back up to 3 years old it is still very comfortable! JF has done some good cheering running around with Zoe or Nico on his front or on his back this way!

3. When I had to start paying for Zoe’s seat on the plane when she turned two years old I discovered a great gadget for wheeling her carseat to the gate called a go go babyz. It is a set of wheels that hooks on to the back of most carseats and easily unhooks to store in the overhead bins once on the plane. It is great for 2-3 year olds + who don’t stay in their seat on the plane very well.  By bringing the carseat they stay put easier, and it makes it way easier if you have second little one on your lap!

Its still fun to see the looks we get at the airport when showing up with a bike box, the double chariot travel bag, a couple of car seats, and suitcases – I could probably write another entire post on airplane adventures with kids, ha!

What you do every day matters more than what you do once in awhile

I just finished a great read called The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. In the first chapter she lists her personal, “Secrets of Adulthood”, one of which is the title of this post. It stuck out to me as a good motto that applies to many aspects of being a mom and trying to keep in shape.

Sometimes one of the biggest challenges to getting things done when you’re a mom, is not having large chunks of time to do things, especially with little ones. Take keeping your house clean for example. It would take me at least 3-4 hours or more to get my entire house clean in one go. I rarely have or want to take a chunk of time like that to clean. A mom friend of mine and I talked about how the best way to keep house cleanliness under control is to do a little bit every day. So one day I might get a bathroom cleaned, another day I might get time to vacuum. If I do a little bit of cleaning every day I feel like I can stay on top of the dust bunnies that keep hatching! I also liked Gretchen’s goal to do an “evening tidy up” every night no matter what. It is very satisfying to wake up to a clean kitchen by taking the time to get it clean before bed every night! When Zoe was first born I’d often go several days at once without cleaning up the kitchen – not a pretty site! And of course, not everything can be done every day but it is important to recognize a few key things that will make your life just a little bit happier! Some things I strive to do daily include eating fruits and veggies, flossing teeth, reading to my kids, laughing, picking up toys and clothes off the floor, stretching, and getting outside to name a few…

Similarly, by committing to exercise every day you’ll get many more benefits than if you’re just a weekend warrior. I’m working on applying this rule to core workouts and physio exercises. I’m lucky to remember to do core work more than once a week, but even just getting down on the floor for 5 minutes a day of exercises I’d be way farther ahead than I am now!

Finally, I’m trying to follow this motto in writing this blog. I’ve had many ideas of things to write about related to motherhood, mental performance, training, competing etc floating around in my head for some time. I’ve tried taking notes in a book but the books always eventually get stolen by Zoe and turned into coloring books. So I’ve finally had the AHA moment to get my ideas down and categorizing my random thoughts through a blog. And here I am on post number 6, and plan to write a little bit each day until I run out of “Deep Thoughts by Danelle” which I don’t think will be anytime soon….ha ha….

How do you organize your week to get exercise/training in with kids?

Its Monday today, what I usually consider the first day of the week. But maybe the wall calendar set up of starting the week with Sunday really is a better idea in order to plan the Monday to Friday part! Whether you’re at home full-time with your kids, work full time or are somewhere in between like myself, making time for yourself to get a workout in can always be a challenge! Although your ideal schedule likely varies depending on the age of your kids and what else they’ve got going on, this is what has helped me get my training in and still be a happy mom at the end of the day:

1. Make a training plan. Make a plan for at least one week of details planned out in advance of what your workout will be each day. I sit down with my coach once a month and we plan all my workouts and races for the next 4-6 weeks at a time. Once I have my training plan I can figure out my babysitting needs, work schedule, and family plans around it. When you have a plan down in writing you’re more likely to stick to it and make it happen – the where, when, how, with whom etc part.

2. What time of day works best for you? Although I aspire to be an early riser in order to workout and do it on occasion, since my kids rarely wake up earlier than 8:00 each morning, I take that time to get my much needed sleep as well. I’m lucky enough to have a fabulous babysitter for a few half days a week to work or train, and a great training group, Critical Speed, to meet up with in the evenings if needed – personally it is also important to have a few “social” training sessions each week if I can. All that said, motivation definitely drops as the day progresses so some advice posted by Barbara Edelston Peterson on our facebook page, “Athlete Moms” might make more sense to more of us:

“My advise all of us Moms, is to do whatever it takes for the VERY early morning workout session. Once the day gets rolling, there are endless obstacles. Waking up burns whether it’s 5:00 a.m. or 8:00 a.m., so make it EARLY enough to do the workout you love/need before anyone awakens. It’s the best feeling, it fuels so many parts of YOU and the family, and once it’s accomplished, you’ve got the whole day ahead of you with clarity and less stress. There’s probably time for another outlet at the end of the day, that may include the kids. Where there’s a will, there’s a way – and something may have to ‘go’ – so you can ‘go!'”

3. Indulge in some outside help.  If you’re like me you may not be lucky enough to have some grandparents around the corner, and you don’t want to be playing tag team with your husband every night in order to get your workout(s) done.. The next best alternative is to invest in a babysitter to either get some workouts done during the day (if your schedule allows) or even to let you and your husband get out together for an evening “training date’ as we call it or even separately at the same time on the weekend to allow more family time together. In Calgary, where I live there are many recreation centres that offer daycare while you workout. I’ve used it often to get in a swim or cross-training workout at the gym. An even cheaper option is finding a girlfriend to trade childcare with. And of course, if all else fails just pull out your trusted Chariot for a run or a ride!

4. Have frozen meals in the freezer. All too often I fall short of my nutritious cooking goals. I rarely think about dinner plans before my husband comes in the door at night – lucky for me he does like to share the cooking. But in my occasional “lets get organized bursts” I’ll cook up double portions of a few of my favourite meals like my mom’s spaghetti sauce over a few days and fill the freezer. Great on busy days when there is no time to cook!

The toughest challenge of training is that it needs to be done almost every day to be effective, and usually in some sort of systematic order if you are preparing for a race – I always joke that you can’t cram for a race and say, hey I’ll just put in a few 8h days of training this week and then put my feet up the rest of the week!

I would love to hear any other great tips from moms that help you consistently get workouts in week after week?