chelsey running stroller

training through aging and parenthood

training through aging and parenthood
words x chelsey magness
photos x guillermo gutierrez, adventure racing world series, chelsey magness
The other day, after sprinting home after my one hour training and tagging my husband Jason out who was on kids and making dinner, I had a moment of awe and curiosity “what did we do with all of our time before kids?” I had just come home after winning the Expedition Ozark race with our team, where we raced for 85 hours and 40 minutes to a strong finish against many of the world’s best international teams. In the months before this, our team had won multiple other Expedition Races, had placed 7th in World Championships and both Jason and I had won/ broke some world records in the paddling and mountain biking world.
Looking back on our previous years we were definitely still high up there with some wins and podium finishes here and there, but it is interesting to see how the arch of our athletic career has coincided with having kids and becoming full on parents.
with less time and with more on our plate than ever, we are feeling good and are doing very well in our sports.
At first glance it seems crazy that this is the case for us, but after looking into the details and science, it makes a lot of sense. Below I outline a few key principles that have helped us become better all-around athletes. And don’t worry, while I do love talking about how amazing kids are, having them is not a requirement!
get a coach

Ever since Jason started coaching me, my fitness has gone way up. Having someone who knows my strengths, weaknesses and goals is huge. I trust him more than I trust myself. I (like many athletes) tend to overtrain if someone is not keeping me honest. Because I specialize in endurance sports, I used to think that in order to get stronger, better, and faster I needed to spend more time doing all the things and for some that may be the case. However, for me and my current lifestyle, I cannot be on the bike for 6 hours a day every other day. Thanks to Jason and his research, he has been able to make a program that is highly focused and works for my time restraints. It is so nice to let go of the worry, the second guessing and so on that comes with making up your own training plan. Instead I wake up, see how I feel, look at my program and make a plan.

Having a coach lets you focus simply on doing the work. Instead of making up your own plan and then second guessing it, go out and find yourself a coach that you trust. And if you are not quite there yet with your athletic goals, another great option is an accountability partner. Jason and I used to do this all the time and honestly, we still do small things like helping to remind one another to drink more water and do yoga every morning.
having a partner or two who are also working towards something is a great way to build each other up and keep one another motivated.
take recovery as seriously as training

Gone are the days where I get to train hard day after day, after day without any need or thought of having an “off day”. Back when I did operate without any planned rest days in sight, I would eventually collapse on the couch for a full two days, only getting up for the necessities. This cycle would repeat over and over again. Granted, while I do still do this after a big expedition race for a day, these “non active” rest days are very rare. Nowadays my rest days look very different and feel much better! I have just as many “active recovery days” as I do “train hard” days. My recovery days are filled with lots of lighter movement activities such as yoga, paddling, taking a light spin around town and rock climbing. They also include a ton of self care time that includes massage, acupuncture and some time with our Marc Pro and Air Relax Boots. On our rest days you can find us hooked up to one of these machines while working on the computer or watching movies at night!
learn how to manage your time

This is easier said than done, especially in this day and age. When people can get a hold of you 24/7 via all sorts of devices, it is hard to tune out all of the noise. Learning how to say no and turning off all of my devices at certain times throughout the day has helped me tremendously. For me and my husband, kids forced us to dial in and take our time management and training up to another level. There are many days that we only have an hour and a half to two hours to get all of our training done, but you can be assured that we are highly focused and fully present in our session. I have also (after a few months of observation, trial and error) learned when my most productive hours are on both a mental and a physical level. I know now when to schedule meetings, when to sit down and write/answer emails and when the best time is for me to work out. Granted, I can’t follow my “ideal” timeline every day, but this has its own teachings as going outside of my regime is great for building resiliency and adaptability.

It’s of course never good to be too rigid, but knowing when you are at your best is a really good thing to start to take note of. After you find out when your best and worst times are, try planning your day around them and see how it works out. For example I know that my best training times are between the hours of 11-1 so I try to get the kids all set with their activities and do some work all before 10:45. At 10:45, my watch goes off and my body is already starting to get a little anxious which tells me that it’s time to head out to do my training or do one of my active rest day recovery activities. Afterwards, my brain and body feel ready to go out on an adventure with the kids, or get some more work done. In our household this works super well, even the kids have learned to pick up on it and will say “Mama, it’s time for you to go out now.” It’s also very helpful that my husband and I have slightly different training, sleep and work windows. While they do and can overlap a few times a week for special training dates, it’s nice to have one of us “on” the kids while the other goes off and has their own time as well!
it’s been so fun dialing it all in and being curious about how we can continue to be better athletes, parents and humans.
I hope this lands with many of my fellow aging parent athletes. Let’s keep inspiring!
about the author
professional adventure racer on team @bendracing. MTN bike world champion and endurance paddler. parent to max, revel and spirit b.😇
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