top of page
  • Writer's pictureBrad Martens

Juggling kids and Ironman

Having kids is by far the most rewarding thing you can do. The love you have for your kids compares to nothing else.

If you want it bad enough you can have it or is the saying you can have you your cake and eat it too... I know thats not how it goes but I believe it does.

I have the belief that if you want to do Ironman racing or any other sport for that matter you can do it and you can do it with kids, work, family commitments and on less hours than you think.

I know this is true because I do it, I have athletes that do it and I have many friends that do it. But for some reason many people think it's impossible and nothing is impossible unless you let it be. For many they believe that to do ironman or whatever floats your boat but I speak from an Ironman perspective that you need huge amounts of hours to have success. Now if your dream is to win Kona you might need a good bunch of hours and a heap of natural talent but for many of us its about competing and having fun.

Lets have a look at the obstacles that often present themselves when wanting to train for an Ironman.

We are selfish

Lets face it, training for an ironman is a selfish act. Its all about us and our partners bear the brunt of it. We get frustrated, emotional and take it out on them. We take more than we give and we make no qualms about doing it. Our selfishness need not be forever and its important that before we embark on an ironman that we ensure our partners understand the involvement, you plan the key moments and special occasions, communicate your needs and wants and listen to each other. I will be the first to admit I often fail to get it right but I try hard to not get it wrong.

Get a coach

If you are thinking about doing an ironman I suggest get a coach and get one that has kids. There are a bunch of great coaches out there that do not have kids and think they know whats involved but the fact is until you have kids of your own you do not know what its like to be awake all night with a kid vomiting all over you, you do not know what its like to have a kid sick for days and cling to you like glad wrap and you certainly cannot effectively program for an athlete without truly understanding what life is like with kids.

A good coach will understand and acknowledge whatever has happened and can help plan around it. My own coach has two kids and he says to me often to roll with the punches and do not fight it. A missed session is a missed session and to let it be. As well you cannot effectively train if you have slept 2 hours so we need to be able to adjust accordingly.

If you are doing it by yourself then I wish you well but having a great coach is money well spent.

Our Partners

In my previous marriage my partner did not agree with my desire to do a marathon let alone an ironman. She would go out of her way to sabotage training sessions so that it didn't happen or plans needed to change.

Since remarrying I have been lucky enough to meet a great person that doesn't need to sabotage my training, our communication is top drawer and we work around what needs to happen with work, life, kids and training. If there is a solution we find it, if there isn't we know we tried and we live with it.

I do however see and have experienced partners sabotage my clients training.

Things like:

  • Coming home late from work (not the legit reasons the shit ones, you know what I mean)

  • Wanting time for themselves but not actually using that time at all. Example saying they want to go for a ride but sleeping in when you could have gone for a ride. Its small but it happens.

  • Failing to meet their parenting obligations and the other has to pick up the pieces.

  • Telling their partner they are crap, shit whatever it may be so they do not feel like training.

  • Long, arduous sexual encounters leaving a partner exhausted (man or woman)

  • Even just small issues that result in animosity being created

  • Causing an argument when an argument not be needed.

  • Hiding training gear on their partners so they cannot train

  • Taking the only car so the said person cannot go to training

  • and much more

From my own perspective I am lucky, my marriage doesn't come with sabotage but for many of you out there it does and it all comes down to regular communication because goal posts can move for both of you.

For the majority of us we have great partners and we just need to remember that whilst ironman is a solo event its a team effort. Acknowledge your part and they will do the same. Like you being selfish well so can they and thats ok.


For many that know me the common perception is I do not work so how would I know what its like to juggle it all, so lets lay down the facts so you all know.

  • For the first few ironmans I completed I worked in the land of the corporate working on some high profile clients digital accounts doing on average 60-80+ hours per week. I trained very early, late at night or not at all.

  • I took on a career change after changing my own lifestyle and the breakdown of my previous marriage. I became a personal trainer and later added triathlon coaching and my day would start at 5am and finish at 9pm 6 days a week. I trained for ironman in the middle of the day when we had less clients to work with. Generally it would be a max 1.5hour session. Any personal trainer would know it is a tough gig at times but rewarding.

  • I became a father again. When Sophie came into our lives decisions needed to be made on who would stay at home and look after her. We made the decision that I would be that person. The big reason Becs job offered more security and income than I could offer. It meant that I scaled back my PT work and increased my triathlon coaching clients. My training is 15hours of less a week and whilst Sophie does attend child care twice a week now if she is sick or any other matter it is me that deals with it. The same would apply to any other stay at home parent (male or female). There is a perception that being a stay at home parent it easy and I assure you it is far from the case.

Some clients that I have helped juggle things so it works for them.

  • One client works in the mines and can only train 1.5hrs a week for 10day periods, no training outside and no pool available. When he is home the kids and family come first and his hours only increase on one day a weekend to allow a longer ride to happen.

  • Another client works in finance, has 3 kids and a wife that works and he juggles a 50hour week, weekends of sport, family holidays and events and does two ironmans a year.

  • Another client runs his own very successful business but his wife does night shift nursing, they have 3 very active boys and his wife runs ultra marathons.

  • I have a family that I coach. They both run their own businesses, they have two kids and they alternate between one doing ironman and one doing a 70.3 or shorter.

The examples above are just some of the ways and I believe if you want it you can make it happen. It need not be all sacrifices.

Friends and extended family

I think this is where things get difficult for many of us. Before kids we are happy to waste our money drinking away and staying out all night. We then meet our partners, get married, have kids and even develop new friendships. Some friendships fall by the wayside naturally, others blossom and we also have those friends that despite not seeing for months on end we can pick up a conversation from where it left off like it hasn't skipped a beat.

However often the first thing to be put to one side is friendships, because unless they are focused on the same goal you are they do not get our desire to inflict pain upon our bodies. Some friends will even try and sabotage our training, some will give us a running commentary on their thoughts about what we are doing and while they support us they do not agree with it, some will call it a midlife crisis and some even feel the need to rally your friends to perform an intervention.

From my own experience so will understand and others will not, the ones that want to be in your life will make the effort and you will too but those big nights out were probably over a long time ago and we all evolve. You can plan your training schedule so no reason why you cannot plan get togethers with friends. I tell my clients to have control on the plan where possible, such as:

  • Have a BBQ, brunch, lunch or dinner at your house. You can control how long it goes for and even kick people out haha.

  • Go out to a restaurant but book a babysitter that has a time limit.

  • Suggest earlier get togethers that work around kids etc

  • I am sure we could think of more

With extended family it can be a bit harder, our mums and dads, brothers and sisters, aunty and uncles etc all have opinions and all feel the need to tell you theirs. They will say you train too much, eat too little, neglect your husband or wife etc. Your parents will commonly start the conversation that back in my day... my answer to extended family is simple and that is you and your partner have worked it out, you work as a team and if it doesn't work we communicate to find solutions. Our extended family only want the best from us and if they see a happy united front they will ease off.

Know your why

I listened to a great podcast just recently where this coach to many pros and age groupers says you need to know your 'why' and knowing your 'why' is important in our success but I also believe will help get all around on board too. If your 'why' is to qualify for Kona and/or win your age group than thats great you know your why. But ask yourself what is your 'why' and whilst many will say just finishing is acceptable I ask you to look beyond just finishing and look deep within yourself. Make your 'why' have meaning for you, it will provide drive when you need it most especially in the last 30km of the bike and last 10km of the run. It could be anything from making your kids proud and inspiring them, celebrating shedding half your bodyweight, remembrance of a loved one, raising money for a great cause and just about anything else you can think of but its got to be significant for you.

You may not agree with everything I have written and thats ok, I welcome feedback and I am even happy to try and help you find a way if thats what you so desire but if I have done one thing its I hope you can see there are ways if you want it.


BPM Multisport was born out of the passion I have for triathlon, not just coach but to educate athletes of all levels to help them achieve their goals to the best of their ability whilst maintaining a balanced, happy and healthy lifestyle.

Every athlete is unique and their individual goals are just that 'individual', therefore I provide programs written and designed specifically based on each athletes needs, time commitment, training level and ‘life’ in general to help them reach that goal. Success is not always overnight some will reach it quickly others will take longer but whatever the pathway I guide them through the journey to becoming best they can be.

All programs are delivered through Training Peaks and each athlete receives a truly personal coaching service dedicated to making you the best possible athlete you can be.

Contact me for a FREE initial coaching consultation to discuss your training and coaching options.

112 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page