Hey Groucho Sports readers!! Thanks for letting me hang out today! I blog over at Dr.TriRunner, and am a student/athlete at the University of Minnesota. I’m a senior in the Kinesiology program with plans for med school, but don’t ask me when I’m graduating – the ‘U’ owns my soul for the next 10 years.
Anywho… probably the most frequent question I get from my readers is How do you balance training, school, work, and the rest of your life? (Oh.. convenient. That’s also the topic Amber asked me to post about!). More often than not, this question comes from a fellow student… but trust me – I’m asking the same question about all of you in the real world! How do you do it? Kids? A 9-5? A husband/wife, dog, mortgages, cars, bills, your kid’s tuition, oh AND you want that new Cervelo? YOU guys impress me.
But to be fair – yes – there are too few hours in the day already, and I seem to stuff a lot into them. So when people ask me how I get it all done, five words specifically come to mind.
Priorities // Planning // Multitasking // Flexibility // Goals.
In no specific order. And note that “balance” is mysteriously missing from that list. While “balance” is something I [sometimes?] strive for, I guess I’ve realized that I enjoy training and competing too much to put it on equal grounds with everything else! There will certainly come a day when I can’t be this active – whether it’s due to age, career, family, etc. – and at that time then sure, my life can slow down. For now though, its GAME TIME. Always! On with the list!
Priorities: I have no doubt that every one of your To-Do lists is just as long as mine. The day is simply not long enough to get it all done! But by prioritizing what is the most important for me to get done this week, today, right NOW, it helps me stay much more sane. My priorities today (swim > class > journal review > meeting > run date with mom > dinner > SLEEP.) might not look the same a week from now, but just having them helps me stay productive.
Planning: My alarm goes off at 4:45am M-F. Out the door by 5:15, and I’m sweating by 5:45. My workouts for the week are given to me, so that component of “planning” is taken care of, but WHEN they get done (and actually getting them done) is on me! I am definitely a morning person, so I schedule most of my workouts at that time – before class, before homework or meetings or anything else that could get in the way. The first key is to MOVE the second you’re awake – before consciousness can set in with doubts or questions. The second key is setting up your coffee maker the night before so it’s ready the second your alarm goes off… Peace Coffee. Pollinator Blend. I’d recommend it.
Multitasking: I am definitely known at my gym for cross-training with my textbooks, highlighting, pulling up PubMed while I’m on an elliptical. Maybe I should be thankful that I have a good amount of XT on my schedule, as it definitely helps me keep up with school work! People ask if I think I’m compromising my workouts by multitasking, and to that I say: probably! But if it helps me to stay on top of the other areas of my life (I am actually paying to go to school… no one is paying me to be an athlete!), to focus better throughout the day, to be a better friend/roommate/student/etc., then I’m not too concerned. (True confession: I also have exercise physiology podcasts downloaded on my iPod and my underwater mp3 player for while I’m running and swimming.)
Flexibility: Slightly misleading. When I say “being flexible,” more often than not, I mean being flexible on my own terms (like swapping my am/pm workout, or turning it into an unscheduled brick). Truthfully though I know so many athletes (of which I may or may not have been included) that have a schedule written in STONE. If Tuesday says track workout, then Tuesday is track workout, despite the 6pm work deadline/kids conferences at school/fact that you’re feeling like crap. The ability to flex that track Tuesday with your easy 7 Wednesday can be an eye opener, and make life SO much less stressful! Athletes are traditionally a stubborn breed… retraining the mind takes more time than training the body.
Goals: MAKE ONE! Or make many. Long term, short term, lofty, bare minimums. Just have goals. Put a race on the calendar and let yourself get amped as the day grows closer. Have those weekly check-ins to track progress. Give yourself a gold star (or grown-up equivalent of a reward) when you see yourself moving on to heavier weights, longer rides, faster times. There is not much else I can say about goals, other than I love them, and am pretty sure you can’t have too many!
WOW Groucho’s – sorry for giving you a novel! I had a good workout this morning (and an extra 2 hours of sleep), so I’m obviously extra focused on writing this post. Long story short, whether you’re a student, a dad, working 60 hours a week, coming from an entire year off, or toeing the burn-out line: don’t give yourself time to question your abilities… just get up and go, and you’ll surprise even yourself!