Happy Mother's Day—Some Training Advice for the Busy Parents
Lately, I’ve been writing a lot about women’s issues on the bike, and a friend asked me when I would do a Saddle, Sore version that focuses on the expecting mothers and new moms (answer: soon!). It got me thinking a lot more about the awesome women out there who balance life as working mothers and as incredibly competitive cyclists. Look at Rachel Lloyd and Nicole Duke, who went 1-2 at the Sea Otter ’cross race—both have small children at home, and both are out kicking ass.
So, for all the moms out there, I had the amazing Peter Glassford (a Canadian cycling coach/racer for Trek Canada) help me compile a list of some great training tips for the busy moms (and busy anyone, really) out there.
- Life/Health Balance: Your cycling and overall fitness will only improve if you’re healthy. It’s about what Glassford calls “marginal gains,” meaning that you’re making tiny changes to get tiny improvements—but those changes combined can lead to an overall major improvement in your cycling! This means getting enough sleep (Glassford recommends a pitch-black room to increase sleep quality even if quantity is suffering), and focusing on good, healthy eating. That could be vegan, Paleo, whatever—as long as it’s a diet with high nutrient density and whole foods. Since (let’s be honest) moms are often the ones stuck in the kitchen anyway, that gives you a better shot at having healthy, clean meals—and developing good habits for the kids at the same time!
- Don’t just ride bikes. Let’s be real: bike riding takes time. Sometimes, a 20 minute block is all we have, moms or not, and sneaking in a quick run around the block with the baby jogger, or on your own, is better than nothing. Glassford recommends kettlebell swings as amazing all-around training, and you can do quick sets throughout the day with the kids still in the room. You can get creative, and especially if racing at an elite level isn’t your primary goal, cross training can keep you fit and sane for when you finally have time to ride.
- Focus on skills. You can have all the fitness in the world, but if you can’t hop a log or take a corner at speed, the slower women who do have mad skills will still be beating you. So if you’re strapped for time, why not focus on the things that you can easily improve? Whether you’re starting as a beginner or a pro, there are always skills that you can improve on that can make your riding flow much better—again, a marginal gain that takes less effort than massive hours, while still creating potential for major improvement.
- Cycling isn’t always a 5 hour ride. Short on time? Intervals and a focus on skill work can be better than volume, and something ignored by people with 15 hours in the week to train versus 5. Focus on quality training, and don’t focus on the fact that you’re not getting in a ton of hours.
- Be psyched when you race! Especially as a mom, you’re more mentally tough than most of the women in the field. Use that! Glassford says, “Some moms have raced at a high level, gone away, had kids, come back, and once you’ve raced at a high level you have that work ethic and skill level so you can come back, often with more mental toughness.”
For more from Peter, check out his Training for Busy Athletes PDF here (and the video from his seminar on the topic is coming soon)!
And from the bottom of my heart, happy Mother’s Day to my own amazing mom, all of the moms who have taken me in and taken care of me on my whacky adventures over the past few years, and to all of the amazing moms I know and love. You are all amazing!