My job entails writing about professional triathletes — their wins, their losses, their day-to-day lives. The longer I’m in this sport and industry, the more I am thankful that I don’t need to win for a living. My ability to hit target numbers in training and climb atop a podium on race day has no effect whatsoever on my monthly paycheck. I’m pretty sure there are some of you working your 9-to-6 job annoyed at the lack of training time. I know of some people who quit their day jobs and go on a sabbatical living as semi-professionals. But I once told a pro, “The things I do for fun, you do for a living.”
Last week I registered for a triathlon, which if I successfully pull off will be my first in over a year. It’s good to be back, yes, but I’m hoping that I will find as much enjoyment in finishing strong as in finishing with a top ranking. After all, my winning has as much effect on the economy as my putting on make-up.
Sport is my way of unwinding; it’s my play time! Using sport as stress relief instead of it being a source of stress has probably helped me stay on an even keel in the past month. Aside from the endorphin boost post-workout that never fails to lift me out of a funk, being able to go for a swim, bike ride (even if indoors), or run has helped me carve out some time for myself. As work has ramped up and I find myself pulling longer hours working on projects, training is a reminder to me that I am more than my job, and allows me to work on personal goals of self-improvement.
Also, it’s less harmful to take out my frustrations on the water, on the bike pedals, and on the treadmill than on other people. I also use the time in training to pray and just talk to God about everything that’s happening whether in my life or in the world today. It’s a cathartic release which to me is even more effective than hitting things (boxing).
If you’re unfamiliar with the concept of “self-care”, it’s the preventive measures you take to ensure you stay physically and mentally fit. Taking time off is part of self-care. It’s why people with regular jobs are allocated vacation leaves as well as sick leaves, and why those of us who work independently also need to set aside time to take care of ourselves. Otherwise, work and other concerns take over your life.
So remember to take a breather every once in a while. It will make you much better equipped to handle the challenges that lie ahead.