by Charlotte Long, Team OAM NOW Cyclist
As the summer comes to a close and the racing dies down, it can only mean two things for me: training and school are both very close. For many of us, particularly those new to serious racing, balancing our lives, our work, our families and/or social lives, as well as our training and racing is difficult to master. Over the past few seasons, I’ve learned three major strategies that have made the balancing act easier.
Be committed. I know it might sound cliche, but it’s important. If the commitment to train isn’t there, then you’re not going to do it. I’ve been there. I’ve made excuses. I quickly realized other things spiraled out of my control as well because my discipline was compromised. I couldn’t afford for that, nor could my training or other responsibilities. Personally, I’m very competitive, so setting and reaching smaller goals made me feel like I was accomplishing milestones on a path towards my bigger goals. With my eye constantly on an end point, I find it easier to stay committed…even if the first milepost I set is a small one. This season, my end point was Nationals, but every season it’s different. The commitment to be stronger and faster always exists. Find your milestones. Find your end point. Find your motivator.
Find a routine. Routines can be lethal. Most of us resist them, but they can be the best thing for you, especially when it comes to working out. I find waking up and working out works best for me because the rest of my schedule is so busy. Working out early means I always have time to fit it all in. Not only can I fit the workout in, but because it’s a priority for me, early morning workouts mean it’s not hanging over me all day and it leaves me ready and energized for the rest of the day. I realize for some people this isn’t feasible, but having a designated time for working out really can benefit you. It’s likely that your other priorities are also scheduled in some way, why not your workout? Look at your schedule. Find a time. Commit to it. Find your groove.
Be honest with yourself. This one comes last because, in part, it relies on the first two. In order to be honest with myself, I needed to know what my goals were and how/where I could fit them in. I needed to learn what my routine looked like, so I could be honest about my needs and wants. It’s quite similar to the fact that I love food (burritos and ice cream anyone?) and sometimes my eyes bite off more than my stomach can handle. I have to balance that out. I have to be aware and honest with what I can handle, even though it all looks so good. The same goes for my expectations when working out. Half of me might say I can handle a longer workout schedule, but when I actually tried it out, I couldn’t. Instead of settling into my workouts, I would stress over not being able to finish because I needed to get to my homework done; it made me feel like I was failing. It’s important to be focused, whether I’m working out or doing my homework. Once I was able to admit and be honest about longer workouts, I accepted it, reevaluated, and working out felt like less of a chore. Be honest about your needs and wants. Accept your limitations. Sacrifice where needed. Find your measure. Quality above quantity.
As athletes, we tend to prioritize a bit differently, often putting racing and training first, but learning to balance my life off the bike really has benefited my training and racing.