My life as a bobsled athlete is a constant juggling act, trying to balance family, full-time work, training, studying, socialising…something that I’m sure a lot of people can relate to! In the last ten years I’ve learned some techniques that help me to successfully juggle my life and still achieve my goals. In the previous blog, I talked about the importance of planning. This post will focus on flexibility and how it is critical in mastering your own juggling act.
"My coach reminded me to look at the bigger picture: what was going to have a bigger impact – missing a couple of training sessions when competition was still months away, or doing poorly on my exam?"
Deliberate flexibility is an important aspect of a successful juggle. I try to design my schedule with built-in flexibility so I know I can adapt to a changing week and release the pressure when needed. For example, periods of rest are very important in a training schedule. I try to build a few extra into my program as contingencies so that when I need to stay late at work and miss a training session, I know I can make it up at another point in the week. Without deliberately planning for this, maintaining flexibility would be much harder.
Shifting your focus when needed is also imperative in maintaining flexibility. Prioritizing your needs according to what is important at a particular point in time will ensure you maximize the effectiveness of your limited time. It also helps to constantly look at the bigger picture when shifting your focus. Not long ago, I was trying to balance training with study, and my coach reminded me to look at the bigger picture: what was going to have a bigger impact – missing a couple of training sessions when competition was still months away, or doing poorly on my exam? When contemplating the issue from a broader perspective, it was easy to see that studying was the better option (and thankfully, I passed the exam!).
"When your time is precious and you feel like exercise might cause you to snap, flexibility helps you to manage your commitments and achieve your goals."
Building efficiencies will also allow you to maximize your limited time. Training venues and programs that can adapt with you provide an extra level of flexibility into your week. For example, when I moved from Australia to Vancouver, I wasn't used to the weather, which was making my usual outdoor sessions difficult. I now train at the Richmond Olympic Oval, which has all the gym equipment I need as well as an indoor running track. This allows me to train properly in any sort of weather and also gives me the option of combining weights and running sessions, without the need to visit multiple gyms. For others, it might be as simple as choosing a facility with treadmills and a pool, so that you are able to adapt your program along with a changing lifestyle.
Being flexible allows you to change and adapt to different circumstances, much like a reed in the wind. And when your time is precious and you feel like exercise might cause you to snap, flexibility helps you manage your commitments and achieve your goals. The next and final post in this series will cover mental strength, and how it can help you with your own juggling act.
Read the first post in this series, The Juggle is Real: Plan to Achieve