Maintaining the work-life-training balance

Ben Price is one of the best duathletes in the UK. Winner of the Triathlon England Championships last year, he has progressed 15th | 8th | 4th over the last three editions of the ETU Powerman Middle Distance Duathlon European Championships. He will be seeking to break into those podium positions in Alsdorf, Germany in April.

Despite his sporting success, Ben is far from a full-time athlete, while still trying to compete with the top athletes in the sport.

In this article, Ben reflects on that work-life-training balance, what keeps him on track and how he has been able to develop his ability to train without impacting the other important areas of his life.

The work-life-training balance!

As an athlete, how often are you asked by colleagues, friends or family, ‘How do you do it? How do you have time for it all?’. I get asked this a lot! And I understand why: two young children, a full-time job (teaching Geography and leading/managing 64 teenage boys in one of the school’s day houses), trying to be the best husband I can be and then finding at least 10 hours a week to train….. it’s busy!

However, there are a few things that people who ask these questions don’t understand…

  1. We actually choose to train! We are not Pro athletes. We don’t HAVE to do it. If we don’t feel like it, we could simply say, ‘I’m not training today’. But the fact is, we love it. And if you love it, you find time for it. Yes, there may be some days when you’re tired and it’s cold and wet outside and the last thing you feel like is heading out for a run, but have you ever regretted a training session (that you haven’t got injured in)? Exactly, you never regret it!! In fact, the more loathsome an impending session appears, the greater the reward when it’s done.
  2. Training and racing is our hobby, so when others might be watching TV, reading, fishing or out drinking, we’re just as happy on our turbos or preferably outside running or cycling. Weird, but true. That means there are more hours available to you than you think. Love Island is an enjoyable guilty pleasure, but I would never choose it over a training session!
  3. It can also be very social. Yes, we do spend plenty of time on our own pounding the streets in our Saucony’s or ripping up the country roads on our TT machines – whilst enjoying some restorative solitude in our busy lives – but many of us who are part of running/cycling/swimming/tri clubs have made great friends though this and are never short of company for our long runs or rides. Donning your club’s vest/tri-suit on race day is always a great experience and some of my favourite days have been those spent training and racing with my club mates.
  4. You CAN develop the resilience required to train hard at anti-social hours and recover quicker on less sleep. This is something I have had to do! The more hours spent training whilst the family are asleep, the better. For a while I would turn up to school having done an early morning training session and be flying on adrenaline/endorphins in the opening few lessons before tailing off before lunch and into the afternoon. These days this is not an issue. In fact, the more I train, the more invigorated and energetic I am at work.
  5. A wife or partner who will tell you when you’re getting obsessed! Rach (my wife) is amazingly supportive – she knows that I need to put in some significant training hours to compete with the best guys – but she is also honest and is very comfortable in telling me straight if I’m talking about nothing else or trying to fit too much in at the detriment of the family. This is so important because family is number one and we definitely do become obsessed at times. Rach is there to keep things in perspective for me and often reminds me that it’s only a silly game of A to B and that Barney and Kiki will be just as proud whether I come first or last. She’s so right!

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A savage mud-fest but ending in a #cheltenhamharriers 1-2-3! Woo hoo!! . Once again, I took 2nd with Bingers in 3rd. This time behind @dom_james1. No shame in that: Dom’s flying at the mo (14.30 for 5k on Thursday 🥳). Big respect pal! 👊🏃‍♂️ . I was gutted that the @dbmax_timing Chilly Duathlon was cancelled (Storm Dennis) but it’s always a pleasure to race for the Harriers in the Gloucester XC League. Mind you, it was an utter quagmire and pretty unforgiving on the legs. But it’s all great training! . Photo 1: A Harriers 1-2-3 👍👍 . Photo 2: working hard to stick with Dom for the first half . Photo 3: spending the second half in painful isolation! . Photo 4: some things mean a lot more than the result! 😍😍😍 . Photo 5: Kiki was a brilliant supporter (for everyone) and worked hard setting up (at 9am) and putting away (last off the course) the markers. Proud Dad! Thank you @fee__runs for looking after her so kindly during the race. She loves you!! . Basically, it was a great day, especially when we got to Five Guys a little later! 😋😋😋 . 📸 – Tony Stanton: ace photos on Flickr as ever!! . #crosscountryrunning #mudrunner #duathlontraining #duathlete

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Ultimately, the work-life-training balance has to be just that: a balance. If I am not teaching or leading the boys in the house well, I’m not satisfied, it plays on my mind and can affect me as a dad, husband and athlete. Flipping it round the other way, if the training is good and going well, then I’m invigorated and bring energy to my job and family life.

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What is love? . Love is giving up your @tacxperience Neo 2T smart turbo trainer to your 9 year son!! ❤️🚴‍♂️!! . To be honest, I absolutely love it! It gets evermore difficult to fit the training in so when I get the chance for training AND family time I’m a happy chappy!! It was Barney’s first experience of @gozwift on the smart trainer and he did a solid 30mins with a hard tilt at the ‘Volcano Circuit’ placing 28/39 on the live leaderboard 👍👍. He’s now asked for his own #zwift account….. I might be on the ‘dumb’ trainer a fair bit more during the months to come! Unless Santa is generous….! #donttellRachhowmuchtheyare !!! . . . . . . . . Yesterday’s training: 🏃‍♂️60mins easy 🚴‍♂️30mins turbo with some FTP efforts (with Barn (photos)) Today’s training: 🚴‍♂️2 hours (and counting – i‘m on the turbo now!!) – just finished a 40km Zwift race….. ignored my placing and used it as an FTP aero effort as instructed by @coachnewport264. It hurt but the numbers were good 👍 #zwifting #turbotraining

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This balance is hard to achieve and not always present. There are definitely times when my training and racing has a negative effect on the family and vice versa. However, as a teacher and dad, personifying commitment, discipline, organisation and evidencing what can be achieved through hard work is a great example for my children and pupils at school. There are many positives. As such, with a bit of resilience, sense of perspective and an understanding, supportive, and honest partner/wife/family, the training aspect of the work/life balance can be hugely beneficial for everyone.

Ashridge Duathlon 2019 - Triathlon England National Duathlon Championships
Ben Price