Sam Long weighing up work / life balance: ‘Do I bring the family with me to races?’

Sam Long weighing up work / life balance: ‘Do I bring the family with me to races?’

Sam Long started the 2024 season in perfect style with a superb win at IRONMAN 70.3 Pucon but admits he’s still working out the best way to balance triathlon with home life.

Long and partner Lara Gruden, a fellow elite triathlete, welcomed their first child last year when baby Leo was born and, like many, the ‘Big Unit’ says it’s a learning process working out how to juggle things going forward – whether that’s training or going to races.

‘It’s a big conversation’

Speaking in his latest YouTube video, Long threw it out to a wider audience as he said: “It’s one of the big things we’re debating, and I want you guys all to chime in on this.

“Even for age groupers, I think you guys deal with this if you’re really competitive – [but] do I bring the family with me to these PTO races?

“As an athlete, you’re used to things a certain way. You feel like, okay, can I add in this extra stress? Can I add in all the extra variables? Of course. You’re like, wow, I want to have [them there].

“There’s nothing better than winning in front of your fiance and your baby, but you just feel you come back to that need to provide and, okay, if it’s going to take it away, then how do I provide?

“So this is the conversation our family is having, a big conversation we’re having. And of course they’re going to be at some races. We’re trying to figure out how many.

“And I’ll be honest, we’re still in the evolution of it. So I don’t have the answers yet.”

‘Life is harder than triathlon’

And it’s a similar story on the training front as Long looks to do everything he can to optimise his progress alongside all-important family time.

He admitted: “I’m just kind of rethinking my whole life. I changed my weekly training structure so my hours have come down but it’s about doing more with less.

“So I’ve added in more intervals and a little more structure and it seems to be working.

“I had a fantastic race [in Pucon]. I think I was in great fitness. And so I’m just looking forward to make sure I can peak again for the big races when it matters.

“So that’s that. Yeah. Life is harder than a triathlon. And it’s great to be in great form and feeling like I’m starting to get a handle on things and that I’ve got the stoke for life back to set me up for a great year.”

And Long is very far from alone as mothers such as Gwen Jorgensen, Katie Zaferes, Chelsea Sodaro and many others navigate their way to the best balance while new fathers such as Long, Lionel Sanders and Joe Skipper do likewise.

Sam Long wins IRONMAN 70.3 St George 2023 photo credit Jacob Kupferman / Getty Images for IRONMAN
[Photo credit: Jacob Kupferman / Getty Images for IRONMAN]

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