It's All About Balance

Balance =  a condition in which different elements are equal or in the correct proportions. 

To most athletes, the word balance has multiple meanings. If you ask my triathlete friends what balance means to them, they would say getting in a good balance of swim-bike-run training every week. If you ask my tennis, sailing, runner, cyclist friends, they would say balancing their training effectively to achieve great results. If you ask the average person what balance means to them they would likely say achieving equilibrium in their daily lives. 

We endurance athletes are up against a lot in this busy and sometimes over complicated world that we live in. Balance is a state that we seek to achieve but it takes work and doesn't come easy. 

This year as I am in the midst of my fourth season in the sport of triathlon, I work hard to achieve balance as I train for my second Ironman. Two years ago when I set out to train and race my first Ironman, I had no idea what I was up against. Ironman training is not for the faint of heart. It is months, weeks, days, hours of training and recovery time with little time left over for life activities. As a first timer training for an Ironman, I likely overtrained (they say most newbies do) and missed out on life activities outside of training. I likely achieved the same results that I would have if I added more balance of outside activities to the training. So this year, two years older and wiser I am working on adding more balance to my family/work/training/life in that order. 

Instead of going into each week with blinders on to get my workouts done, I am working hard to include my wife and friends in my scheduling so that I can balance out fun activities with the training. This is a win/win - I get to spend more time doing things I like to do and with the person I love and the friends that I love spending time with. It even means incorporating a mellow bike ride to the beach or run around the park or getting up earlier to get the workout done so I can have my afternoon/evening free for fun activities with friends. Two years ago this was not the norm but now it is becoming more so. And guess what, it's more fun. 

So I ask you, what are the three ways that you are achieving balance in your life? I challenge you to try to mix things up with your current training schedule so that there is less of an emphasis on getting the training done and more of a balance of family/work/life/training. And while you are at it, treat yourself to that ice cream cone, splurge for that massage, have that second glass of bubbly with dinner. Sounds easy right and more fun, which we all definitely deserve. 

Happy training, racing and balance! 

Written by Carla McKay

Follow Carla on Instagram! @carlamckay

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Great post Carla. I’m so glad to hear that you’ve found a way to balance the rest of your life with your training. I think that’s key to sustained participation in long distance triathlon. I would also add that the ‘balance’ that you speak of is really a great framework from which to approach any training plan. It requires commitment equal to the commitment that most athletes easily make to getting their swim, bike and run workouts in. In the same way that we periodically perform physical tests to make sure our fitness is progressing according to plan, I would offer that it’s equally important to periodically take an honest checkpoint to make sure that the rest of your life (relationships, career, unstructured time….) is healthy and thriving as well. Love the photo of you and Martha. I hope you’re having a great season so far, and I hope to see you out there.

Michelle Dodd

Loved your blog! I am also training for my second Ironman this summer, and keeping balance between family/friends, work and training is my main goal. I have always been a person who needs balance in life. I do have to say, I am a little more relaxed this time around with the training schedule and know I’ll get the work outs done, even if I need to post pone it to another day. This time, I’m enjoying the journey, which incorporates my husband, kids and friends into my training and recovery. Somehow it’s working, and I’m having so much fun the second time around. Good luck on your journey and IM.


Loved your blog. Balance is hard. Some months it comes easily and others (even when doing same things) it is so hard! Keep the inspiration coming!

Lois Anne

Nice post! Achieving balance is hard work. Three things I’m doing to try to achieve balance:
1. Including my non-endurance athlete husband in my training by: organizing my bike rides so that he can join me for an easy hour out of my longer rides, by having him SAG some of my group rides, inviting him to hike while I trail run and then get a bite to eat afterwards.
2. Cultivating interests outside of swim, bike, run. For me its other sports like snow skiing and paddling.
3, Giving back. The whole tri lifestyle is more satisfying when I do more than train and race. I’ve gotten involved in my local tri club, volunteered at events, found products that I like and am an ambassador for some of them. I especially like supporting women owned small businesses. I’ve created some great relationships through these programs.
I think its easier to balance life as a triathlete when I stopped doing things that didn’t enrich my life so I had room for those things and people who do. Letting go of what drags you down.

Brenda Bettencourt

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