03/28/2008 02:48 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Going The Distance

I've taken the plunge. Well, at least, I've taken my first plunge, that is, into a chilly pool at 6:30 this morning for a swimming technique class that's supposed to help me prepare for my latest athletic endeavor: a real triathlon. You know that famous quote by Eleanor Roosevelt, "Do one thing every day that scares you"? Well, I'm applying that philosophy to my body (and my schedule). I've been a gym rat and a runner for a long time and after giving birth to twins and finally getting my pre-baby fitness level back, I've been looking to bring purpose to my daily dose of exercise. So I'm trying a tri. Well, aiming to finish one next fall.

It's something I've wanted to do for as long as I can remember. But in the last week, I finally faced what has been standing in my way as of late: time ans guilt... that age-old curse of motherhood.

My early morning initiative today was sparked by a conversation I had with an amazing woman who not only has two Hawaii Ironman races under her belt, but she is a mom of a toddler and an infant and the co-owner of the gym where I work out. We were venting about how hard it is to give yourself permission to re-arrange your family's schedule to get to that early morning yoga class or to fit in a run on the weekends and the challenge of putting yourself higher up on the daily to-do list. I couldn't believe I was hearing this from someone whose entire career and lifestyle is devoted to exercise (not to mention, she is married to a triathlete!). And then it hit me. It doesn't matter who you are, as a mom, it is never easy to let go and take some space for you. I started because I felt that was true in my own life and in my circle of friends. But the more women I meet, the more I understand that we are not alone in this mental battle over time-management. Ironically, that ball of guilt and anxiety unravels and momentarily disappears during those 45 or 60 minutes while we let endorphins free our minds.

A few days later, I had lunch with another woman who coaches a local group of mom runners. Same story: she works with moms feeling like they have to beg, borrow or steal time to fit in a quick jog. This group is especially motivated because they are part of Moms in Motion ( a national organization that helps moms connect in running or walking groups. Even they struggle with this constant tug between caregiving and personal care. But each week, they manage to make it out for their weekly runs together. I thought, this is a message so many moms need to hear. You've got to make the time.

So I had both of these encounters in the same week that I heard from a Well Mom reader in suburban Denver who is a stay-at-home mom and has decided she is going to train for her first Half Ironman (1.2 mile open water swim, a 56 mile bike ride and a 13.1 mile run). She does not have a regular babysitter nor a nanny and her husband works long days. But she's carving out time for her training by riding a stationary trainer in her basement at dawn, making use of the daycare at her gym to run on the treadmill and swimming in the evenings. Read more about Rachel's story this week on The Well Each month, she'll be sharing her personal diary and logging her ups and downs as she trains for Denver's Half Moon Long Course in September.

Inspired by all of these discussions, I started plotting out what training for a triathlon would really entail. I'm not attempting anything close to an Ironman. Most likely, it will be a half mile swim, 18 miles bike and a 4 mile run. But I started thinking, why can't I ask my husband to watch the kids for an extra thirty minutes one day a week so I can go to the swimming class? Why can't I set my alarm a little earlier so I can run before my family wakes up? I can do it. I need to do it. I want to do it.

Just as I'm wrapping my head around the time factor, The Los Angeles Times ran a story about triathlons with an inspiring photo of determined wet-suit clad swimmers on the beach running towards the waves. I tore it out a pasted it on my fridge and set my alarm for 5:45. I thought, okay, this is the universe telling me it is time. As Rachel, the stay-at-home mom says, it is time to put down the cookies and put on the swimming goggles, running shoes and bike helmet. I'm off. WIsh us luck!

If you are looking for some ways to encourage your mate to help you reach your fitness goals, check out advice from trainer Julie Barroukh, a mother of three and a Well Mom fitness contributor.

Please sign up for The Well Mom weekly e-newsletter for more advice and inspiration about taking time for you. Through Valentine's Day, all new sign-ups will be entered in a drawing to win a gift bag full of bath and beauty goodies from Naughty Mommy Body Care.