The Daddy Experiment 1.0
Just over 3 months into this experiment of balancing being a new Dad while attempting to chase my athletic dreams and it has been trying..
The first month of being a Dad, training wasn't even a thought in my head. Any urge to train was simply the result of habit and routine. I would redefine my "training" as sporadic exercise in a lucid state of mind. I would strongly suggest to any other new dad that is Type- A and possessing athletic aspirations to utilize the due date of your child as an "A-race". In other words, build your fitness into this date as you would for your focal race. By doing so you can be mentally at ease with not training during that first month and make yourself believe it is a recovery block (trust me, you will feel like you just finished an Iron man). In addition go through your training logs and reflect upon your progress. This should provide you with comfort and a tranquilizer to put down down any training anxiety.
The second month was a small step away from sporadic exercise and towards something resembling structured training. It was during this second month where I began to figure out how to fit in training. My fitness had certainly taken a big step backwards which weighed on my mind. I could describe the second month of this experiment as a game of darts. I had the greatest intentions of hitting a bulls eye with my training but most of the time I would come up bust.
Typical training for this second month was cyclical in nature. I would be able to string a few days together then miss a day. There was the start of some consistency but nowhere near my standards. Once again, you could find me in the pool at 4:30 am. about 3 times per week and pedaling and running after Noah fell asleep (after 9:30) I found that I was able to maintain this type of training schedule for about 5 straight days until I just crashed and fatigue set in. The lack of sleep and subsequent crappy recovery equated to average training sessions at best.
* No amount of compression, massage, vitamins, and vegetables can replace; deep, REM, non-interrupted sleep
This initiation of training during this month was a direct result of Noah starting to show subtle signs of developing a routine. Foolishly I would bet on this routine and come up a loser every time. The nights I craved an extra hour or two of sleep or thought I could squeeze in some training, Noah would have other plans. Shamefully it was during these times I would get frustrated and my patience with Noah would be tested. I must always remember that the happiness and health of Noah is my only priority and that I'm an age -group triathlete.
* My confidence in my abilities to reach my goals this season certainly wavered during this time.
My advice is to make sleep and recovery a priority. Don't judge your training by the number of hours trained or by scientific metrics rather by your energy level. Completing a few sessions each week full of energy is far more beneficial than completing a full week as a zombie.
Month number three and we finally have something resembling a routine. I can confidently say Noah has eliminated the "12 O'clock" feeding. This late night feeding usually took place between 1-2 in the morning for about 45 minutes. I elected to take this feeding so Melissa could sleep . With Noah now going down around 9 and sleeping until around 4 I can finally begin to get some quality sleep (5-6 uninterrupted hours). There is no question or doubt in my mind that Noah now sleeping through the night has had a dramatic impact. I have had my most consistent month of training since he was born (I only missed 3 days), my recovery had drastically improved and my energy levels area returning.
As your child begins to develop a routine do not go full tilt into training. Build in to your routine as your baby develops theirs. I would also strongly recommend catching up on sleep; take a week or two to accumulate additional hours of sleep, skip that early morning run etc. By doing this you will be able to hit it harder, sooner and have higher quality training sessions.