Every single time that I begin an ironman build up, inevitably, I always feel that there are never enough hours in the day. I have yet to really even kick up training, but the looming ahead of the hours to come already gives me a touch of guilt. I posted about this on my Instagram stories and got tons of great insight from women who have felt the same way and little tips that they have done to manage their time better. I will give myself a little pat on the back for the fact that I have really honed in on time management over the past few years and it has drastically impacted how much better I'm able to train knowing that other things are taken care of as well.
1. Ya gotta keep the first things first.
My planner is hilarious. I gave up trying to make my planner organized and cute because it's the one area of my life that can't be organized. It has to encompass how I will organize everything else therefore it's just lists and lists of things that need to be taken care of.
One of the main things with time management is priority management. What is the most important thing to you? Obviously, relationships are typically at the top, and those take time. But balance is a swinging pendulum and do we ever really reach that effortless balance anyway? It's all about balancing the unbalanced. Please, don't mistake this blog post to be about condoning busyness and the badge of honor of having "oh so much to do." That's something I really don't like, and am trying not to do but to genuinely give helpful tips to get the most out of your days.
Facebook, and maybe even reading this blog post, should not be in your priority list. You might think it only takes a few seconds, but we all get sucked in to whatever the little time wasters are, and we genuinely can stop those. Make your to do list, but do the things that take the highest priority FIRST. Laundry may be last on that list and that is A-Okay.
2. Be DEEP where you are
I have to remind myself that I do a lot of races, but my races come in waves. I don't do them all the time. I'm 7 weeks out from Myrtle Beach (which I did run yesterday with no pain after a month off wooo), and I'm 14 weeks out from Ironman Texas. That's pretty deep into training cycles, and so Tanner understands that, he was talked to about all of this beforehand, and so he knows what to expect. I'm not a social butterfly anymore like I used to be, so I keep to myself for the most part, and on my off days, I always spend that time with my immediate and extended family.
Each section of my life gets my undivided attention. For example, while I'm writing this blog, I cannot be bothered with other things. haha! That sounds so terrible to say but Tanner knows that if I say "I'm going in here to work on XYZ" that he will not come in there and ask me questions or even sneeze my direction. I have read a lot of literature and listened to podcasts on the concept of "Deep work" and how all of us with our smart phones and texts and emails and on and on and on get absolutely nothing done these days because we are always interrupting our deep work. This is why famous authors have places that they have escaped- to be able to write the best novels of all time. We work best when we exit from the background noise and pay attention to what we are doing. We are able to get that task done and then move on.
Gosh, I wish I knew this concept in pharmacy school. I literally used to go to the library all day every day but half the time I was distracted. I always knew that I needed to be better but I just was not mature enough to discipline myself. Sometimes, I wish I could re-do pharmacy school to be able to learn more efficiently because I love learning and feel that I could have soaked up so much more. Ahhh- hindsight is always 20/20.
This is something that I conquered in 2017 and I'm so proud of it. I've talked about it a lot, and how I became organized, and over time it gets better and better because I create some new system or I organize some new thing each week. I'm thankful that we haven't moved in 2.5 years at this point (even though we contemplated it like 500 times) so it's much easier to organize now that we are settled in here.
Organization takes time. Organization doesn't need to be done during your ironman training cycle, but rather in the off seasons if you have a lot to do, but once you have systems in place, everything has a place, you know how to execute, do your training and be out the door. Everything has a place, everything gets charged at a certain time, everything is in a certain bag or drawer, and is washed in a certain format. Yall, I've gotten real detailed about this. hahaha! Every single thing I own has a place (even my individual pairs of socks-don't judge me). It's fantastic.
Organization can be more than just your house of course, but also organization of your time. Have blocks that you know that you will do things, and stick to that each and every day.
4. Always workout at the beginning of the day
This is something that I don't do, but it's also because I know that I will always do it regardless, but I do know that many people will skip their workouts if it's not in the morning. I personally like to read for an hour in the mornings, but I can already tell that's about to go out the window for the ironman training season. haha!
If you have your workout as simply something on your to do list, then it's not something that you can just skip. But you also have to go back to that priority list as well. Every single workout should have a purpose but there are many different levels at which athletes train. I know that we all want to do our best, but there are sometimes when workouts aren't going to happen. Does that mean that you just don't do the race? No. That's silly. Recognize your athletic ability and the potential to be able to do this race is not about your every single day workout but rather about the muscular endurance and adaptations of your nervous system that you are creating over time, and that can happen even if you miss some workouts due to your priority list.
5. STOP STRESSING ABOUT IT
If there is one area that I struggle, this is it. I always am able to rationalize all of the things above and put them into place, but regardless, the blocked out time that I have made for my training, I always feel guilty about it. I always apologize to Tanner even when he agreed to let me do it, and honestly I truly think I'm more annoying because I apologize vs if I was just not bring it up or rather just thank him. As I joked about on Instagram, when I got home from worrying about being gone at the YMCA too long, he was literally happy as can be playing his video games. The boy does not need to be attached to my hip or mine to his. I've never been like this with worrying about time until Ironman stuff and for whatever reason, I think because it's a hobby and not work, I find myself being like OH GOSH OH GOSH.
But THAT GETS ME ABSOLUTELY NOWHERE. I have talked on END about emptying your mind to be able to just live life and enjoy it (because isn't that why we do this to begin with) and so I am starting to do a short dynamic stretch / warm up / meditation before I begin training and saying to myself that I will not feel guilty, I will enjoy my workout, and I will empty my mind of guilty thoughts for this entire session.
I hope this list is helpful with how you manage your time and your thoughts going into whatever races that you may have. I actually do have to say that while I fill my days with work, side work, coaching work, ironman training, dog mom, and wife life, I don't have near the responsibilities as many people do so I know that it takes a village, y'all!