Creative time-saving strategies

The relentless training program continues and I feel like I’m committed to it now. In the struggle to balance training, work, family and friends, and rest time, I realize that there must not be a wasted moment. I know of some triathletes who use their commute to and from work as the bulk of their bike time. My commute is less than ten minute though, so this isn’t the place to get in my training. Instead, I use my commute as my moment to relax and allow my mind to wander. Having a lot of commitments and a long list of priorities means that my mind is always on. I’m constantly thinking about the next activity and ensuring that I’ll have adequate snacks and adequate clothing. Using the ten minutes or so on either end of the work day as a time to let my mind relax, to listen to some music or the radio and force myself not to worry about whether I’ll fit in all my training takes care of some of my designated “rest” time.

In the constant quest for available time, I have a number of time-saving shortcuts. Some more ridiculous than the others. For example, I take a lot of my groceries out of their packages and recycle the packaging right at the store. Not bringing any recycling in my front door means that I save time later by not having to bring any recycling out.

Another time-saving strategy is to only buy and wear clothing that I can do multiple activities in. On any given day, I have to do some combination of the following: ride my bike, swim, teach yoga, work at a formal office, run, fix my bike, go out in my canoe, clean up the yard, do yoga, workout at the gym, pump diesel (to heat my house), fetch water (I don’t have running water), walk the dog and cook meals. It’s a lot of activities that require a variety of outfits, and the best way to manage is to only wear comfortable items that can do most of the above activities. The foundation often starts with yoga tights. For work, I can put on a dress and blazer over top. For the yoga studio, I can put on a comfortable shirt and for all the outdoor activities, I can put dirty jeans and work gloves on over top. The next component, of course, is accepting that I’m always going to look a little scruffy. My hair will never be perfectly coiffed and my nails are unlikely to tolerate a manicure for more than a half day.

Another strategy for fitting it all in is to invite friends to join me on my activities. Unfortunately, when I get really pressed for time, the first thing I abandon is often my friendships and relationships. This is a very short-sighted strategy because not making time for quality time with loved ones means that my mental health starts to suffer. Before long, I get sad and then everything that I was trying to squeeze into my schedule starts to suffer. So the pre-emptive strategy is to fit friends into the activities. Have meals together, ride bike together, make plans to run together. Whatever works.

Another time-saving idea is to shop online. I know.  This a blatant disregard for the adage “buy local” But I just don’t have time to browse endless items and I don’t have the patience to go into stores. Online, I can log on, order exactly what I need and then it will show up on my doorstep in 5-9 business days.

The truth is that I’ve just about taken on too much stuff. The triathlon training was probably unnecessary, but as I was climbing out of the pool this afternoon, I reflected on how much I love having goals and plans. I love working towards something and I love having a plan every day. There are days that I don’t feel like doing the training, for sure, but then I get a chance to test my running or swimming speed and realize how much faster I’ve gotten since I started all this in the summer of 2015. Is it worth it to try to squeeze triathlon training into a week full of work, socializing, resting, weekend camping trips and quality time with family? Most of the time. Do I feel lonely on my bike when I’m out for a 100km ride and my friends are hanging out at a weeknight BBQ? Yes. Am I going to stick with the training? Definitely. The reality is that I simply don’t know what will come of this training. But I do know that I have to keep doing it in order to find out. Maybe nothing will come of it. Or maybe the greatest inspiration and opportunity of my life will reveal itself while I’m doing the training. So I’ll organize my time, take whatever time-saving measures necessary and stick it out until September.

Canmore XTERRA: September Long Weekend 2018

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