Friday, February 26, 2010

Making it all fit

Sometimes I find it difficult to fit in the exercise I need to make myself more fit. Whether it is to simply supplement my healthier diet in an effort to lose weight, or getting in the miles of biking, running, or swimming to prepare for the racing season; sometimes there just aren't enough hours in the day.

I'm not what you would call a detail oriented person. I'm an idea guy. So when I first started doing triathlons, I thought "Ok, so I'll ride more, and I'll start swimming and eventually learn to run". And that's basically how I approached my first season. My times generally improved throughout the summer, and I felt better at the end of each race than I did the previous, even if it wasn't quite showing up in the standings. 

When Rach and I decided to do Timberman, that approach had to change. For one thing, I don't know squat about preparing for a true endurance event. Yes, I'd walked a couple half marathons, and done some 10ks, but even the sprint triathlons are done within a couple hours time. Timberman is an all day event, one that will take everything out of me, and if I'm not prepared properly, will be an abject failure. Plus, the distances we're training take enough time that you can't just tuck them in after work, or in the hour between dinner and prime time TV.

I have an acquaintance who is the CEO of a small to medium company, doesn't seem to neglect his wife and kids, and yet still manages to get in all the training he needs; and for longer distance races than I am talking about accomplishing. His energy level seems boundless, and he swears none of it comes in the form of amphetamines. He's often done with training in the morning before I've even started, and somehow finds time to be inspirational to others in basically every part of his life. Color me jealous. 

Anyways, to get in the workouts we need, especially during winter months, Rach and I have had to be creative and flexible. The BU FitRec competition pool is constantly busy, especially in the hours after work. The only openings seem to be when the pool opens at 6 am and in the last hours before closing. The Masters swim class fills the competition pool at opening, but the diving well is opened to use as swim lanes during that period. The diving well lanes usually don't fill immediately, so Rach and I can share a lane, which works fine for us. The problem of course is getting ourselves out of bed every day at 5:30, especially during severe cold, snow, or rain. We've been having some trouble with this lately, even though the worst storms are behind us.

This leads to working out late at night usually starting around 9 PM, in the last hour before the pool closes. While this is usually a good time in terms of lane availability, working out late often leads to sleeplessness for some people (like Rach) because of the increased adrenaline. Thankfully, being a big guy, I'm usually wiped out after a hard late night workout, so those tend to be nights I can sleep easily. On the occasions I can't, I tend to wind up staying up until about 12:45 am. Staying up that late isn't terribly conducive to getting up early the next morning, but I find I can function pretty well following the times this has occured.

The times I really have issues is when I go for a late night bike, which I've done as late as 10 PM, because the gym itself doesn't close until 11. While this is an ideal time for finding open bikes (our gym until recently suffered from having far too few exercise cycles), it's a terrible time to get your heart going hard. I've been up well past 2 on nights like that, and it's really tough to get up and swim before dawn on 3 hours sleep.

I guess what I'm getting at is that you have to be willing to make working out a priority, and doing your best to follow a schedule that allows you to maximize your time in that particular activity (as opposed to waiting for a swim lane or unused bike), while still making the rest of your life work. I'm committed to working out 6 days a week, but I'm committed to watching some olympic events live as opposed to TiVo. 

This where dedication comes in. In the end, it's about being as flexible as you need to be to do the work you have to do without giving up the life you want to live outside the sport.

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