Modern life means that many of us struggle to achieve a healthy work: life balance… Let alone a work: training: life balance!
Whether a runner, triathlete or any other type of athlete also holding down a full-time job, there are a number of challenges facing us both physical and organisational, many of which our colleagues will never fully comprehend.
Here are some ideas which may help your training:
KEEP YOUR MACHINE MOVING
For corporate athletes, particularly those involved in running sports I do think the movement implications of our 8hrs+ per day desk-bound position are important to consider.
There are numerous debates with physios as to whether or not sitting down all day really contributes to the commonly seen restrictions into hip extension (normally tight hip flexors), and indeed gluteal inhibition.
Hip function is hugely important in running gait. Regardless of whether or not you believe that sitting down all day is the root cause of some of the common muscular imbalances we see at the hip, it’s hard to argue with the fact that sitting does nothing positive for the promotion of range of motion at the hip. Sitting in a static hip flexed position is about as far away as you can get from the dynamic extension pattern we want to see in running gait.
What can be done? Well, it’s unlikely that your boss is going to buy you a standing desk (great if he/she does!). So if your day is dominated by various forms of sitting down, try setting a timer to get you up out of your seat every 2hrs for a quick walk around and a stretch.
The same can be said for the upper back. The thoracic spine, rib cage and shoulder girdle is another important area to keep moving properly in runners. So often in corporate athletes I see a lot of tension through the mid-to-upper back, and a lack of thoracic extension and rotation as postural imbalances develop around the shoulder girdle in particular.
RESISTANCE BANDS FOR BUSINESS TRIPS
For athletes who find themselves being sent off to all corners of the globe on business, it can be difficult to find consistency in performing the strength and conditioning exercises we know we should be doing regularly. One hotel might have an extensive gym, another might have nothing…
The use of resistance bands and body weight exercises is an excellent alternative. The versatility this approach provides means that you’re only really limited by your imagination in terms of building a hotel room workout! For those who really want to get elaborate, the TRX is also a great bit of kit to pack in the suitcase..
DON’T PLAY CATCH-UP
In the corporate world, things can change quickly. Deadlines, meetings, and other demands on your time can all conspire to mess up the best laid training plans. When this happens, the important thing to remember is that even at elite level athletes occasionally have to let a session pass them by. This is normal.
For some of our runners with more demanding work: life schedules, lets discuss the concept of ‘mission critical‘ sessions. For first-time marathoners mid-training block for example, these are normally specific long runs, building endurance and time on the feet. With the big caveat that the gold standard is to complete (and execute well) all sessions on the training plan, the understanding is that it’s only the mission critical sessions that we’ll reschedule if missed, not the others.
Generally speaking, sessions which ‘build the cake’ are more likely to be mission critical, than the sessions which provide the ‘icing on the cake’.
COOL DOWN OUTDOORS
This and the next tip are both about being smart with your time, and protective of the ‘me time‘ that is both needed and provided by training.
This problem is as true for the self-employed as it is for corporate runners: runners return from a lunchtime run and suddenly get drawn into something work-related. A conversation, an email a voicemail needing ‘immediate action’… All of a sudden 45mins has passed and I haven’t even stretched.
Where possible, cooling down and stretching outdoors before re-entering the working environment finishes your session well before getting engaged in conversation, read an email, or pick-up voicemails.
RUN BEFORE READING EMAILS
Tim Ferriss , his best seller ‘The 4-Hour Work Week‘. Along similar lines to the tip above, this is all about avoiding distractions which could be detrimental to your training.
How many of us wake up and immediately check emails on our iPhone – before even getting out of bed. Emails in the inbox, creating the urge to get back to the laptop and deal with the business in hand – often detracting from the training session itself. Or new emails in the inbox would create various ‘quick’ tasks before the training session. The morning runs away with us run and all of a sudden it would be lunchtime and we haven’t trained. This is neither efficient nor effective!
Ask yourself the question about each email: “can it wait until 9am?”.
The answer most almost always is yes!