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Tri-ing times – working on triple fitness while being a working mum and keeping things in balance


Tri-ing times – working on triple fitness while being a working mum and keeping things in balance

Do you ever wonder if you could take your triathlon training seriously as a busy mum with young children and the myriad of commitments this entails? According to Multisport Consultants Jess Fleming, a working mum and triathlete with numerous long course, 70.3’s and four ironman races under her belt, planning has never been more important.  Jess knows all too well the importance of making every second count.
"you don't have to choose - have both".

Jess explains, “There are many different ways of finding time to train, you just have to be motivated to do so. If you put it in the too hard basket, it will be just that, too hard.

I often get comments from other mums that I am ‘crazy’ or ‘how do you fit it all in’, they would say something like ‘I can’t even fit in 3 hours to myself each week let alone training 15 hours per week!’
All I can say to those people, PRIORITIES and CHOICES.”

Jess fully understands the satisfaction and amazing sense of achievement when finishing a race, which somehow makes any sacrifices along the way worthwhile.

She points out that as mothers we carry an enormous amount of guilt if we do anything for ourselves and therefore we usually put ourselves last. Often not always to everyone else’s benefit as it brings our mood down and we are actually not much fun to be around. 

One of the known benefits of regular exercise is feeling high on endorphins and subsequently good about yourself, which in turn makes you a better and happier mum to be around.
The big question is - How do we realize our goals whilst keeping the rest of the family happy and engaged?

As a Level 1 triathlon coach with many busy mums as clients, Jess suggests that training for a long distance race requires a training program of somewhere between 12 – 15 hours per week.  A substantial commitment, which is where Jess’s top tips for a ‘train smart’ principle comes into play.

“Our top tips to incorporate the ‘train smart’ principle into your fitness program are as follows:
Each training session should be done from a well thought out plan to get the most out of the session
This is often where a coach comes in handy.  My athletes give me the amount of hours they have available each week and I tailor make the sessions to suit around their family life.   Each plan is tailored to the individual, what works for one person won’t necessarily work for another.

1. Be organized
Ensure that you and your partner have discussed a set plan of morning/afternoon training sessions that suit you both.  For example, if you have allocated Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday as your morning/afternoon sessions then ensure you lock out your diary and commit to the sessions on those days.

2. Be flexible
Flexibility is integral to working around family commitments and often you will need to adjust your training time and location to adjust to the needs of the family.  An example of how this might work is as follows:
If you usually go for a bike ride on Thursday mornings, but your little one has a really bad night and you have only had a couple of hours of sleep, rather than just throw in the towel and not train that day this is where you need to be flexible and ‘go with the flow’ in order to get your session in.  Your bike training may have to be done on a wind-trainer in the lounge room while your baby has an afternoon nap.  One keen mum sets up the wind-trainer inside a playpen with baby on the outside to keep little fingers safe from moving parts.

3. Get the basics
Invest in some training equipment at home, A windtrainer and even a treadmill , a set of hand weights, a fit ball etc  would greatly improve your chances of getting some sessions done when the kids are in bed at night.

4. Be creative
Plan to train when your children are doing after school activities, or when they have play-dates.
Mums who have older kids participating in after school sports can take the opportunity to fit in a training session. eg swim practice, ensure that you have packed your swimmers too, you might think that only a 30min window isn’t enough to bother but a 30min swim is better than nothing.  You’d be amazed how much you can actually fit in when you only have 30min.

If your kids have rugby or soccer training after school and you have to be there to ensure that your little ones get dressed, booted up and given a snack before they head out on the field, then you have the perfect opportunity after your duties are done to go for a run or do a strength session using body weight.

Some other examples are:
Water running in the pool whilst your kids are having a play.
Short interval sprints whilst the kids are playing at the park or on the oval with a footy.

5. Work with a training partner/s
Connect with other like-minded mums who have similar interests and take turns with training sessions whilst the kids play. For example, meet at the beach and take turns to open water swim or at the park and take turns running or doing interval sprints.

6. Make it a family affair
Take an inclusive approach to your training commitments, communicate your goals to your family and try to incorporate them into your training activities.  For longer runs or rides try to incorporate it into outings with the family. For example, if you have a weekend training session to do, plan a breakfast or a picnic somewhere ‘out’ at a destination you can run or ride to, leave a little earlier and meet the family at the designated spot. Maybe your partner can run or ride back home.

Involve everyone and make special goals to prepare for each event a family decision. Incorporate races with a family holiday or short break and try to plan something for everyone once the race is over.

7. Nutrition matters
Maintain a healthy diet – it’s essential to getting to most out of any training program.  Educating yourself about healthy eating habits and incorporating this into your lifestyle is not only beneficial to your training and overall performance but has long-term health benefits for athletes and their families.

Jess concludes “Though training for competition is a commitment both personally and for my family, it also provides essential role modeling for our children, where fitness and a healthy lifestyle are a way of life that can be enjoyed by the whole family.  The greatest gift we can pass on to our children.”

For more information about tailored triathlon training programs visit

If you have an interesting story about the balancing act of training for triathlon and being a mum or any creative training ideas that you would like to share please send them to

Jess Fleming Level 1 triathlon coach, Personal Trainer and Professional Triathlete
Media enquiries to:
Jess Fleming
0438 370 246



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