January 8, 2014
Finding Balance..tips from Kelly Ellis
Balancing Life’s Bubbles
by Kelly Ellis
There is more to life than training, and there is more to training than training. You can’t have your life function inside the bubble of your training world AND you can’t fit training inside the bubble of your life.
So, as you start to put your goals on paper for 2014 and create a plan to achieve them remember that training only fits when there’s a balance amid those things that weigh heavier in importance – spouse, parent, friend, child, sibling, employer/ee.
Being busy is a choice and lack of time is an excuse but if we simply operated every day doing the things that we wanted to do for ourselves, we’d crash and burn.
Time is absolutely a challenge for anyone who has put fitness at the top of their priority list and especially for the endurance athlete for whom training is a time-consuming pursuit!
Below are tips to keep your bubbles in balance:
We’re all pressed for time, yet we all have time for our highest priorities. Before you take any other measures to fit your training into your life, consider how important it is to you. What sacrifices are you willing to make for the sake of your training, and what sacrifices are you not willing to make? There are no right and wrong answers to these questions—there are only your answers. The main objective is to identify activities in that are not as important as your training time, so you can cut back on or eliminate them. For example, perhaps the “household duties” can be shared with your family or pay a professional to free up some time.
Make a schedule
Sit down and write out what you do and when you do it in a typical workday. Look for any waste or excess that can be addressed to create more training time. Suppose your schedule reveals that you currently watch two hours of TV in the evening. Why not cut that back to 90 minutes and squeeze in a 30-minute core workout? Create a new schedule with the waste and excess cut out and the extra training time added, and then stick to it!
Endurance athletes have found many creative ways to fit training into a tight schedule. Ride your bike to work. Invest in a treadmill and run on it in the evening while your kids play nearby. Take the family to the lake or pool and swim while your spouse watches the kids, then switch places and let your spouse have his/her turn. You know what they say: Where there’s a will, there’s a way!
Consistency is the most important characteristic of an effective training regimen. So if you don’t always have time for your prescribed workout at least try to do more than nothing on those days. Throw away the concept that less thana 20-minute workout is useless and instead crank up the intensity or use the time to work on an otherwise neglected aspect of your fitness (technique, strength, etc.). Save the big workouts for weekends or days when you have less clock pressure, and on the other days, just do something.
Create an understanding & Keep communication flowing
Time spent training can be a major conflict issue especially in couples where one is an endurance athlete and the other is not. As with every potential source of conflict in a relationship, the best ways to minimize resentment are communication and compromise. Sit down with your spouse and talk openly about the time you spend on your training. Let them know that spending quality time with them and working out are both important to you, and you wish to balance the two in a way that makes you both happy. Share your ideas of a fair balance and be willing to give a little. Don’t shy away from asking your spouse to give a little too. The result of this process will be a mutually agreed upon set of expectations that will prevent conflict in the future.
Take a seasonal approach
There is no need to train at peak levels year-round! You can have great success as a runner/cyclist/tri-athlete by training hard for a set number of months each year and doing low-key maintenance training the rest of the year. In the off-season you can devote the time that is freed up by your reduced training load to other priorities that are neglected somewhat during the other months of the year. And by the same token, devoting extra time to these other priorities during the off-season will enable you to put training first without guilt or consequence in the warmer months.
Focus on Quality
Most endurance athletes can get more out of the time they’re already spending on race preparation programs. So before you even look for ways to increase the quantity of your training, first increase its quality. A high-quality training program is well-rounded and personalized. We often make the mistake of doing too many similar cookie-cutter workouts with a lot of prolonged, steady, moderate-paced aerobic training and not enough threshold work, speed intervals, technique work and/or resistance training (e.g. hill repetitions) that is tailored to our specific needs.
Balance is an essential characteristic of effective endurance training. It’s also an essential characteristic of a healthy lifestyle. I hope these tips will help you better balance your training and the rest of your life.
Your life does not get better by chance, it get’s better by change – challenge yourself!
Annika Beech at 1:23 PM