Tuesday, April 10, 2018

How I (Try to) Make it All Work

With a relatively full work/school schedule, sometimes I even wonder how I'm able to fit in a comparatively full training schedule as well. The key to this is pretty easy: I hold myself accountable for my time. I found that if I'm not careful, I can easily waste two or three hours a day browsing Facebook or playing video games (not that there's anything wrong with either of these activities... in moderation). What I have found that I can do to make use of downtime without letting it take over my day is to set aside strict times for those activities (while stretching, or riding my bike on the trainer).

It takes a lot of mental toughness to do this, but I promise that the more you do it, the easier it becomes. Self-control is like a muscle -- the more you use it, the stronger it becomes!

Without sounding too preachy, I'd like to give you an idea of what a "day off" looks like for me. I am lucky (???) enough to work and do clinical in 12 or 13 hour shifts, and so I have more days off than the average 9-5 person. This presents its own sets of challenges. I'm not able to get anything done before or after my shifts (factor in a 45-minute to 1-hour commute each way for each location, and my days on the clock are shot), so my days "off" need to be pretty strictly scheduled. I find that caffeine and snacks help.

For my example of a day "off", I'm going to give you a peek into what yesterday looked like.

8:30: Wake up! Take care of the chickens, let Marvel out, and put the kettle on.

Kimi (buff) and Schumi (barred) enjoy their breakfast

9:00: Eat breakfast with Marvel. I use this time to browse Facebook or play video games if that's what I feel like doing. This is limited to 30 minutes, tops.

9:30: Get dressed, let Marvel out again (untangle him when he gets stuck), and get ready to head to the track for the first work-out of the day.

10:30: Arrive at the track! 800m warm-up, 12x400m intervals with a goal of 1:56, walk a 200m recovery interval between each set, and jog an 800m cool-down. I actually averaged 1:52 for my intervals, and it felt amazing. Gotta love the days when everything feels easy. I usually walk and stretch track-side and eat a snack before getting in my car to head to the grocery store.

Took a few tries to get this footage, but it was worth it to be able to see my improvement in form

12:00: Grocery shopping trip at my favorite local co-op, Fiddleheads. I get all of our produce, dairy, and most of our meat from here. They source things locally as much as they can, and almost everything there is organic. Plus, the people who work there are so friendly, and very knowledgeable (they helped me finally figure out how to buy avocados).

13:00: Back home. Unload groceries, shower, and then prepare lunch. While lunch is cooking, I wash the dishes and do the dishwasher. Multi-tasking is definitely a huge key to fitting everything in to my day.

13:30: School work. I started (and finished) my presentation slides for a differential diagnosis case presentation. Once that was completed, I checked my e-mail (I only check my e-mail once a day, otherwise it's potentially another huge time sink). Once I finished my presentation, I had a cup of tea and another snack.

Grilled cheese with avocado on 12-grain bread = yum

16:00: Change into a new set of workout clothes, and hit the bike trainer. I did a relatively short workout, where I covered 5 miles in a smaller gear, focusing on maintaining a cadence of 85 rpms. This sort of pedal turnover is optimal for triathlon competition, and is associated with better power output for perceived exertion. In any case, I'm learning a lot about bikes and how to actually ride (as in, not mash the pedals), so I used this time to watch educational videos on YouTube (Global Triathlon Network and Global Cycling Network are two of my favorite resources right now).

I am incapable of taking a picture of myself while riding, despite my best efforts

16:30: Cool out, more stretching, and now adding in strengthening exercises. I'm trying to work on my glutes and make sure that they're as strong as possible to help keep my kinetic chain stable while running. In short, I'm strengthening to help prevent injuries. I snuck in another snack while stretching.

Marvel is judging me from his throne

17:30: Change into pajamas, put laundry in the washing machine, and start thinking about dinner. Since it's just me and my husband, I like to cook larger meals that can fulfill multiple meals. Leftovers are king in this household. Thankfully, I made stuffed peppers the night before, so I don't have to cook anything else.

18:00: Time to study and hit the books. Pharmacology is the main focus of this semester, and it's definitely making itself the center of my study plans. At some point I switch the laundry over to the dryer.

20:00: My husband gets home, we warm up food, and eat dinner with Marvel (who has needed to go out multiple times and required significant snuggling through the day -- he would need his own schedule blog post to cover it all). This is time to catch up and be together, which is just as important as anything else I have scheduled for my day.

22:00: Bedtime! The most important part of the day. I've been finding my training performance has been suffering on days where I'm only getting 6 hours of sleep (unsurprisingly), so I'm trying to be more aware of getting enough sleep.

The caveat to all of this, of course, is that everyone has different schedules and responsibilities, and so it is dangerous to generalize. So the one tip I will leave you to work on is what I started off with -- hold yourself accountable for your time, and set hard limits on the time-wasters in your life*

*No, you cannot classify your boss, your children, or your partner as a time-waster. Sorry.

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