After the obvious questions of why and are you mad, this is normally the next question I am asked about my Sea to Summit Challenge. My default answer is ‘I will just make it happen, when you want something bad enough you can achieve it,’ but the honest answer is I am still working it out! I am still trying to find a balance between being successful at my job, completing my training sessions and finding the time for family and friends.
I recently read an analogy by Paula Radcliffe where she describes the balances of life being like juggling different balls. Some you are able to take risks with, but others are fragile and you need to treat them with care, not taking your eye off them. Over the past couple of months, I have been so focussed on my work and training that I have dropped a ball or two. I have lost sight on some key aspects of my life, including once again my health! They say you learn by your mistakes, but clearly, I am a slow learner ;-)
So how the hell am I going to learn and find this thing called balance? As I sit here typing with one hand and soothing my sciatica with the other I want to share with you 6 things I have decided I am going to try and improve. I am sharing it for two reasons. One, because making it public somehow makes me accountable to actually do it, and two because I know I am not the only person in search of this illusive balance.
- Being realistic and honest, only committing to what I can actually do
I often think I would like to give up work and train like a pro, but reality is being a full-time athlete is also not easy. When I look at some of my pro athlete friends, I see a whole array of different challenges. I see training that has become a job rather than a passion and I see racing that has become their livelihood, they are under constant pressure to perform in order to keep their funding. The lack of financial security is something I don’t envy and I am actually very thankful for my salary at the end of each month. So, if I am going to continue to work and train at the same time, I have to be realistic about what I can achieve in any 24 hour period. In the words of Chrisse Wellington, ‘Perfection is doing your very best in the context of your life.’
- Not being afraid to ask for help
You would think that being a professional project manager and having been coached in my younger years that I would be pretty awesome at planning my training schedule! Turns out this couldn’t be further from the truth. For this reason, I am not ashamed to admit that I have enlisted the help of a coach. Peter Russo of Russo Racing prepares my weekly training schedule. It takes the pressure off me and the thought of having big brother watching means I am less likely to skip a session! In order to get the best out of it, I need to work on point 1 and be honest with Peter on what I realistically have the time for!
- Training Early, training smart
I need to re-friend this thing called an early morning. Having spent a good ten years of my life getting up at 4am for swimming training you would think I would be used to it by now. For the last month I have struggled a little bit with finding the motivation for morning training, especially when I am away from home. The crazy thing is when I do it, I feel amazing after. I need to bottle that feeling and make it a habit.
- Being flexible and creative
Although I do need to work on my muscle flexibility (that’s a whole other story), I mean being flexible with my training! It’s not the end of the world if I can’t find a swimming pool close to the hotel I am staying in, I can swap it for a gym session. The key is to remove the guilt. If I know I will have an early start and late finish at work, then I can plan to run to work. Training will be done and I can still get dinner and to bed at a reasonable hour.
- Being inclusive
Working long hours and training for an event such as Sea To Summit really does take over your life and at times it becomes overwhelming. Karl and I are an awesome team, he will often come out with me on the bike when I am doing long runs, but this summer we plan to make it even more fun together. We have just bought a camper van, so I can go and ride in new places, we will of course try and plot routes that start or finish at a golf course, so Karl can get his fix!
- Taking time to relax
Last but not least I need to remember that I am not superwoman, my body Is not capable of running at 100mph for ever. To avoid breaking point I need to build relaxation time in to my life.
So that is that, I am pretty sure I will go on dropping balls but that is ok as long as I don’t let them lay on the floor for too long. Extremes are easy, but we must strive for balance.