When I became a triathlete, I was a full time graduate student. Though I was very busy, I was also busy on my own schedule. The earliest I ever had to be anywhere for school was 8 a.m., which leaves tons of time for a morning workout and I often didn’t have anywhere else to be for the rest of the day so… 2.5 hour brick at 10 a.m.? Sure, why not. It’s a great break for the brain before jumping in to hours of dissertation research. It was a nearly perfect Tri training schedule. And then… I made my dreams come true and was accepted into the Navy Clinical Psychology Internship. With that came a return to active duty, a real paycheck (yay for not living off of student loans anymore) and… A full time work schedule.
My first week of internship, I sat in my office crying, texting Coach Dai saying that I didn’t think I could do it all. After about a month, I finally started to fit the pieces together but I can’t say that the struggle ever ended.
Since I’ve returned to full time work, I’ve constantly felt like I was on a bit of a hamster wheel. Wake-up, workout, work, workout, eat sleep and shower multiple times a day. Sometimes, I feel like Justin and I just sort of high five each other a couple of times a day in passing and then do long bike rides together on the weekends before we tag team meal prep and cleaning. *sigh* It’s exhausting.
I doubt that I’m the only one asking myself why I do it. To a certain extent, I’m almost on autopilot these days but there are moments when I wake up with the 4:20 a.m. alarm and they “whyyyyyyyy?????”
Here is my answer to this question:
First of all, I love it. I love that I don’t look at my body as attractive or unattractive, I look at it as fit, capable and strong. The same thing goes for my mind. It isn’t a matter anymore of whether I can or can’t do something; it’s a matter of “how hard and how long do I have to work to accomplish it?” For someone who has struggled with poor self confidence and, at one point, depression, this is a huge deal.
I love the people. Some of the most amazing people have come into my life through sport. My husband, my very best friend, would never have become a part of my life if it weren’t for sport. Yesterday, I spent the afternoon hitting refresh on my ironmobile app as I watched my friend Anne’s splits from Ironman TX pour in and I felt a connection a connection to those splits! I felt joy and excitement at seeing her crush her goals! I’m getting goosebumps just remembering it as I type. That kind of connection is something special and I cherish the feeling that the triumphs and failures of my past and present training partners are mine as well. Where else can you get that sense of community? Maybe the military but… I’ve already got that covered and it’s not quite the same.
Clearly, I have no intention of giving up triathlon any time soon. So how does one manage the hamster wheel of training, working full time and maintaining relationships? Having the support of my husband is a huge plus but that requires that I am mutually supportive. We work as a team to plan ahead and prepare meals. He shops, I cook for the most part on the weekends but during the weeks he prepares most of the dinners. He also pours coffee down my throat in the morning to get me out the door to master swim. We have like-minded friends and we prioritize recovery, which means that most of our socializing during the season is done during our workouts because the rest of the time we are sleeping or eating or working. We prioritize paying for services that will make life more manageable like doggy daycare and lawn services. That means less money for eating out, buying new gear or remodeling our hous, and we both think it’s worth it.
What do you do to make the hamster wheel more manageable? How do you balance the drive for performance with family and work responsibilities? Let’s have this important conversation!