Maintaining a balanced, healthy lifestyle while competing as an elite athlete is definitely a juggling act. This post focuses on the importance of planning.
For the better part of the last ten years, I have been juggling full time work or study (or both) while training for one of the most demanding sports out there – bobsleigh.
Bobsleigh training is built around four pillars – weight training for power and strength, sprint training for speed, push training for start technique, and finally, the actual bobsleigh sliding itself.
I would certainly love to call myself a full-time athlete, but the reality is my life is a carefully orchestrated symphony of balancing my marriage with a demanding 8am to 5pm (or 6pm, or 9pm…) corporate finance job, a full time study load for a post-grad accounting degree, as well as four gym sessions, three sprint sessions, a few bobsleigh track sessions – and still having time to socialise and enjoy life.
...the reality is my life is a carefully orchestrated symphony...
This is not easy! But over time, I have learned techniques to make it possible. These are planning, flexibility and a strong mental game. This blog series will explore these concepts, beginning with planning.
Plan to Achieve
Effective planning is the most important tool I use to manage my life and ensure I achieve my goals in all areas. This involves always having a basic plan, even if it is a loose one. Having a plan will allow you to approach your day/week/month etc. from a broader point of view and ensure you have adequate time and resources to fit your exercise around a busy schedule. For me, this involves preparing weekly plans incorporating personal commitments, work functions, training and free time (which is equally important) so I can visualise where I might have issues, or where I can move things around to alleviate pressure.
Effective planning is the most important tool I use
Organisation is also a key aspect of the juggling act. I always make sure I am adequately prepared for the week ahead. This may involve simple things like packing a bag for training the night before, or regularly checking my schedule to see where I need to get to bed early. It is important to think about logistics. Being prepared for things such as, How do I get from work to training in time? and How do I get my training equipment from A to B? (which is a lot harder when it involves a bobsled!) help me make the most of my limited training time.
Writing things down is the final piece of the planning jigsaw puzzle. I am a habitual list maker – I make shopping lists, to-do lists, equipment lists for different training sessions – you name it, I write it down. It affords me the comfort of knowing I won’t forget anything when I set out to make this juggling act a reality. Keeping a diary is also a great way to ensure I stay on top of commitments by recording them as they arise, while also looking forward in time to see what is on the horizon.
Without these tools I would not be able to squeeze as much as I do out of a 24-hour day and still feel like I have a normal life! I hope these tips will help you manage your own demanding schedule and allow you to fit your exercise into your own busy life. The next blog will cover flexibility, and how it can help you with your own juggling act.