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Jess Learmonth runs pregnant

12 March 2021

5 Secrets to Balancing Sport and Family Life

Athlete Stories

"When your family are happy, you are happy. And when you are happy, you become a better athlete."

We’re all striving to be the best we can be in all aspects of our lives, but finding the balance between work, family and sport can be tricky sometimes. We’ve asked 5 SunGod Ambassadors to share their tried and tested secrets for maxing out on training while making quality time for family:

1. Be open to flexibility in your schedule

Louise Gibson, cyclist and team captain of the Internationelles is a single mum of 2 boys aged 10 and 12. She balances training for international competition alongside parenting and working full-time. For her, it’s all about staying agile to get things done…

“I couldn't train without an excellent indoor setup and I have to be flexible with my timings too. Life gets in the way when you've got 2 kids and a job. Sometimes I find myself training late at night, but that's ok, for me a late session is better than a missed session. My smart trainer is essential in making these sessions happen when I can't get outside for a ride. Ultimately, it all comes down to timing and priorities, you can't always do it all, you just have to become a master at juggling what you can do!”

Follow Louise’s adventures: @loukew

2. Organisation and time management are critical

Tom Folan is a former professional footballer-turned-distance-runner and father to his 2-year-old daughter. For Tom, sport is essential to mental well-being, so reducing training volume at the onset of fatherhood wasn’t an option…

“I have no shame in admitting the prospect of fatherhood was utterly terrifying. Some may think it selfish, but one of my primary concerns (aside from learning how to change nappies) was how I’d be able to balance running up to 80 miles per week, working full time and maintaining a healthy family dynamic. The first and most vital aspect of finding a balance for me was time management. The vast majority of my training is done both before my daughter wakes up and after she goes to bed. During the winter months, this means it’s rare for me to run in daylight but it’s the best way I’ve found to minimise distractions and maximise family time. Alongside this, I lay my kit out the night before like it’s a religion, so when my eyes are heavy and cognitive function is limited, there’s very little to think about other than the task at hand.”

Follow Tom’s adventures: @tom.folan

3. Involve your family in your training

Kieron Douglass, ultra-runner and father of 3, loves nothing more than to share his passion with his children and watch them as they themselves become inspired…

“I think a lot of people believe that in order to do strength work or weights that you need to go to the gym. But, this takes time and if you don’t have a gym set up at home, there are plenty of things to use that replicate weight. For example, my 2-year-old is a great squatting weight and she loves getting involved whether I’m squatting, doing push-ups or sit-ups. Ask your kids to join you in your workouts. It’s a great bonding opportunity because all your kids want to do is spend time with you and get involved. Remember, when your family are happy, you are happy. And when you are happy, you become a better athlete.”

Follow Kierons adventures: @kierondouglass

4. Teamwork makes the dream work

Pro triathlete and coach Sophie Bubb has raced all over the world as part of the GB Elite long-distance triathlon team. Racing all over the world with a family in tow can be complicated, so for Sophie, it’s all about teamwork…

"It hasn’t been the easiest of journeys! In the beginning, my husband often followed me around with the boys on training sessions. On long rides, I still had to stop and feed the baby and he was instrumental in helping with that. Without him, none of this would be possible I don’t think! We’ve always discussed my goals together as a team with a clear understanding of how we’ll get there, as a family. Keeping family, work and triathlon balanced is hard but we have all grown together as a family and so far it’s been one amazing journey!”

Follow Sophie’s adventures: @sophie.bubb

5. Don’t lose sight of the bigger picture

Mother of 3 and running obsessed, Danielle Hart’s life revolves around family and fitness. For her, it’s all about attitude and remembering your ‘why'...

“When you’re trying to train full-time it can be easy to start to see family tasks as obstacles to getting your sessions done. Whenever I feel like this, I remind myself that my children are my why, my reason, my life and my happiness. All I ever want to do in life is to raise good humans and be the leading example for my children. This always keeps me grounded and stops me from getting too stressed about training. Sure, I’ve had to get creative and I feel I’ve done my best to not only continue to train through motherhood but to include my kids in all my passions; the main one being running of course! Never lose sight of why you have your awesome family and everything will work out!”

Follow Danielle's adventures: @daniellehartruns

Sure it’s not always easy, but these athletes are all living proof that with the right blend of organisation, prioritisation, and ingenuity, it’s possible to thrive in all aspects of our lives. Life can be crazy sometimes so it’s important to remember your ‘why’, and don’t forget to enjoy it all – no matter what!