How to manage your training as a masters rower with kids

There are five core considerations when you want to row yourself and also have family commitments.  These are:

James Dietz kid rowing oar

James Dietz as a kid helping his Dad with an oar.

  1. Times of day to train
  2. Partner support
  3. Finding a crew who understands
  4. Erg training versus water training
  5. Racing and regattas

Times of day is an essential consideration – children are active at different times at different ages.  While they are young, an afternoon nap may give you time to train and when they are older, they won’t be getting out of bed early and so your training time can be shifted.  Look at your schedule and the children’s “normal” waking and sleeping patterns to see if there are some gaps for you to exploit.

A supportive partner is the BEST.  Without them it is truly hard to row while you are raising a family.  I am not going to discuss details here but having something each of you can do for yourself separate from the family is your goal.  Talk it through.  Our club had a rowing couple who took turns to row first while the other looked after their toddler upstairs in the rowing club – then they switched places. 

Your regular rowing crew mates are also a fabulous resource.  You may have a group of five or six people who train together and maybe you decide to take turns doing child minding for the whole group (upstairs in the rowing club or a nearby park) while the others go rowing.  There are also the possibilities of sharing grandparent, nannys, nursery care as a crew.

Erg is often second best compared to water training.  But remember some training is usually better than no training.  Can you sneak 40 minutes on the erg?  A comparable session would be 90 minutes  on the water because you have to drive to the river and wash / dry your boat and drive home afterwards.  Short intensity sessions can be easily done on ergs, bikes or by running.  One Mum told us she took the erg in the car to her children’s swimming practice and assembled it for use in the car park while they were training!  That’s dedication.

Racing and regattas are special.  And to be honest, if you are competing it is very hard to also mind children.  Try to bring a partner or friend / relative with you to the regatta so you can easily switch from Dad to Athlete mode without having to run round finding someone to child mind from your team because your race got delayed.

Time management for rowers resources

A podcast episode discussing rowing training while raising kids – led by an athlete who was facing personal challenges.

These top tips were supplied by members of the Masters Rowing International Facebook group. Thanks to them all. 

  • Alessandra Novak – be gentle with yourself
  • Margot Mayor – Rowing is a mistress that never has enough
  • Guillermo de las Casas – training erg at home, Waterrowers make less noise
  • Cristin Flynn – forgive each other in the crew when we miss sessions
  • Natalie Dustman – ask the coach about flexible outings and check out online coaching www.fastermastersrowing.com
  • Taya di Angelo – at regattas use the power of the rowing village while you’re on the water to mind the children
  • Catharine Saarvela – Irvine is a coach and she connects juniors to masters as babysitters and co-ordinates outing times to facilitate
  • Karen Stryker – bring your child to the club as a cox
  • Anne Buckingham – be willing to race with anyone
  • Cynthia de Joux – take the kids to regattas on the promise of fun things to do on the way home like water parks and ice cream
  • Mike Victorsen – I multi-task having an erg in the spare room, I watch rowing videos instead of TV and put the wine back in the fridge more often.
  • Shelagh Tubby – my erg lived in the car boot and I trained in swimming pool car parks while my kids were training in the pool.

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