Pros of being an Athlete Mom # 2: No time for pre-race jitters to hit you!

“Wow, I’m suddenly on the start line – how did I get here so fast?” or “Oh, I’m racing, time to get going!” have been all too common thoughts since I’ve been racing with kids in tow. While I’ve never considered myself an overly nervous racer or very prone to pre-race jitters, the any waves of nervous butterflies I used to feel on race morning have almost been nonexistent since I first came back to racing 6 months after Zoe was born. Not that butterflies are bad – they are getting your body “UP” and ready to race, I just haven’t been able to pay them much attention anymore!

I think part of the reason is that having little ones like I do doesn’t give me the time to sit around and ponder what the race means or think about what competitors I will be up against – I rarely have time to even bother looking up the start list before a race! If I think about the reasons why being a mom is a great cure for race jitters, I can relate it to some of the things I try and teach athletes about mental performance such as:

1. Staying focused on what is in your control. When I think about the day before a race and the morning of a race these days I’m so busy getting my equipment ready on top of feeding and organizing my family, that race weekends allow no time to dwell on anything outside of my control like the weather, the competitors, what could go wrong, any doubts over my readiness to race etc. So I just stay focused on my race before and after the gun goes off.

2. Having a routine to follow. Race routines with kids have taken some trial and error. For one Xterra race in 2009 that JF and Zoe traveled with me to I was the last one to set up my transition and barely made it to the swim start line on time! It was scary, and now my pre-race routine checklist always allows for as much time as possible to get everything done and get in a decent warm-up which is always a plus, ha! Following a routine I know works will allow me to focus my best once the race begins. Of course, “mom race routines” have to be flexible and add some “go with the flow” room too!

3. Keeping emotions in check. Like most athletes I know I start to get a little edgy as a race approaches. And my family will be the first to notice me getting a little more impatient for example as a race approaches. However, kids remind me not to take myself or my races too seriously, they keep bringing me back to the present moment, and keep me laughing right up until it is time to focus on the race – and for me that is when the warm-up starts! And since I find that little daily joys with kids by far trump the emotional highs and lows of competitive sport, they keep my perspective in check too!

4. Staying in the here and now. As related to all of the above, children are amazing teachers at how to live in the present! They don’t care if I have a race in an hour – they are hungry now! Or need a diaper change now! Or just want some mommy attention now! They can have a temper tantrum one minute and being showering you with hugs and kisses the next, they don’t hold grudges or worry about what will come tomorrow. They teach me to enjoy every moment before, during, and after a race. During the race I can focus 100% and it is my time to do so. Before and after the race I can allow myself focus 100% on everything else!

Overall, although bringing my family to races can definitely take my stress level up in a negative direction at times, most of the time they are a positive distraction in the sense that they keep me busy enough to stay focused on just one thing at a time, and in the present moment, a practice that is also a positive for racing, to focus on taking it lap by lap, or section by section, until voila, I’m across the finish line and back to being a mom again!

Pros of Being an Athlete Mom #1: Procrastination, what is that?!

When I compare my life as an athlete before and after having children it is easy to focus on the disadvantages like less time to train, less than ideal recovery, and difficult travel logistics. But there have also been many positives, and I would even say advantages, so this is my first installment of the pros of being an athlete mom – no time to procrastinate!

In my pre-kid days of being an athlete, I could find plenty of reasons to delay getting out the door to do an important workout – I could hit the snooze button one more time, wait for the weather to warm up , sit out a thunderstorm, surf the web a little longer, have one more snack so I won’t bonk…and the list goes on.

Wasting any time putting off training has been a thing of the past since becoming a mom. When my kids were newborns I’d sometimes seize a moment to do a little yoga or core while they napped or of course seize the moment to also nap when needed! When Zoe was a baby I remember one particular winter day where I even managed to get a 2h30 trainer ride in one day while she took an unusual marathon nap – bonus!

Now that I depend on others for help the majority of the time in order to get my training done, I have to be super organized when I know I can only get training done between X amount of time during the day or it won’t happen at all! If my babysitter is coming I have to have bags packed, and gear all ready to go before she even arrives so no dilly dallying even getting ready anymore! When I’m committed to get out and do my training at a particular time each day, its starts off my training in a better mindset – “just go out and do it now!” – no time to even complain or feel sorry for myself if its going to be a tough day at the training office! When I know it is now or never I don’t procrastinate because if I do I will loose valuable training time and even the ability to complete the workout properly. Another plus is that I don’t take the ability to go out and train for granted anymore. Having the time to workout each day is a privilege and a treat these days so I also feel more committed to getting the most I can out of it as well!

And on a related note, I rarely even procrastinate going to bed anymore! I don’t know if my alarm clock’s name will be Zoe or Nico in the morning. I also don’t know if my alarm will go off at 7:00am or 8:45am so better get to bed at a good time just in case!

After two babies the drive to train and compete is still alive!

My first serious sport was soccer beginning at 10 years old. But I would say I really became a serious athlete at 12 years old when my friend Holly encouraged me to join the local track club, the Comox Valley Cougars. That is when I started following a training program year-round with a coach.

Twenty years later I became pregnant with my daughter Zoe, and amazingly took my first real break from training and competing. I had run track and field through university, switched to competitive mountain biking through grad school, and then to began racing professionally in Xterra (0ff-road) triathlons.

I enjoyed the break from structured training and wasn’t sure I’d be motivated to continue after having a child. But I was and the motivation came from the challenge of getting back in shape to race while balancing motherhood. And a fun and rewarding challenge it was! Then two years and 8 months later my son Nico came along – could I do it all over again with two?? Once again, the added challenge of training and competing with two little ones gave me the fire to prove to myself that I could do it.

It is a tough balance somedays but overall because I commit time to workout nearly everyday I believe I have more energy, and in turn I’m more patient and hopefully a better mother to my kids! I’ve started this blog to share thoughts and ideas related to my adventures combining my life as an athlete and a mom…