That advice came at a low point for me.
I started working my first full-time job this fall after graduating from a 5-year intensive program for my bachelor’s degree. With 18 months of work experience under my belt through internships, I thought I was familiar with the work force. I thought I was advancing to a world of bike rides over lunch and generally, a more stress-free life. But most of us who take sports seriously also take our jobs seriously. We can’t do anything without the driving passion. Thus, I quickly found myself only riding on the weekend. I was trying to squeeze in an hour ride on two different week days. Luckily, this transition period occurred in the off-season. However, I was giving up on riding, and for a minute, it felt good.
By the end of the day, the strain from a full day of work with my brain on overload brought me more than mental exhaustion. I didn’t feel like riding my bike, but I missed it. A co-worker told me, “Just a tip – NEVER sacrifice fitness for your job.” So as all things go, balance is the key. As I thought about how to balance work with riding, I realized, when one overtakes the other, they both suffer.
For many of us, training powers creative recharge, mental freedom, and positive emotions. The ability to bring that excitement back to the workplace and experimenting with how to balance work and training have been my ultimate success in transitioning to my first full-time job.
If you are struggling to balance your career or any other commitments with your training load, remind yourself of the benefits of training, beyond competition. I compiled a list of the following tips to help me find my appropriate balance.
Some of my favorite tips:
Tailor your fitness goals to your schedule
What kind of training load is realistic?
Once you’ve determined that, you can determine what fitness goals are realistic. Certain races require more training time or more gym time. Thus, what works for you?
As a cyclist traditionally interested and skilled in road racing, I’m now tailoring my training toward criteriums. While my training load is intense, I’ve decreased my training hours per week by about 20%.
Find the path of least resistance and create a routine
Devise an efficient routine. If you have a shower at work, it probably makes sense to finish your workout there. If not, use baby wipes, if it allows you to get your workout in efficiently. Look for gyms on your commuting route. Search out workout buddies if lack of motivation or fatigue cause you to procrastinate. Test out what times of the day work the best for you to train, and try them all. Finally, be sure to build pre and post workout nutrition into your routine to reinforce efficient habits. I keep Cocoa Elite’s Recovery Protein handy for a good source of high quality protein, carbs, and my daily flavanols.
Share your enthusiasm for your sport with your coworkers
There is an art to sharing your passion without overwhelming others or emitting a condescending vibe. Being able to peak your coworkers’ interests and reel them into your sport will create a positive environment to sustain your training and career balance. Maybe you’ll be able to sneak out over lunch for a ride. Maybe your boss will go one day too.
If you’re struggling to find a balance, feel free to reach out.
We’ve all been there at some point, but don’t give up!
Best of luck in the upcoming training season! – Sam
Samantha Fox (Sam) is an extremely experienced cyclist. She spent a summer racing in Europe, which gave her the opportunity to compete with European cyclists. As a result, the events greatly increased her experiences and skills as an all-around racer. Sam loves to compete and downhill is her specialty.
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