When I started this journey, my only commitments were to workout 5-7 days per week, depending on that week’s training schedule, and to not diet. After all, if I was exercising over an hour a day, I was not going to stress over food.
This strategy worked for the first six weeks or so. I never felt bad about eating cake, my body was responding beautifully to the exercise — barring a few Advil-dependent nights — and I made almost every training session. Don’t get me wrong, I would have followed this strategy indefinitely. I loved it; my body, apparently less so. I began craving vegetables and orange juice. Yep, you heard me. My body was taking over, demanding more of me and the deal I had made myself only a few weeks before.
Sleep also became elusive. I’ve always been a fall-into-bed-for-9-solid-hours girl and now I was waking up in the night. Bored. Days where I hadn’t trained were worse.
I was also having trouble with my knees. They weren’t injured, just sore. After a longer-than-normal after run stretch one day, I realized that my knees no longer hurt. After some experimenting, I figured out that my knees hurt because my hips were tight. Great, something else to deal with…
Mindful Refueling is Key
This is when I really started looking at the importance of refueling. In triathlon terms, this means nutrition, sleep, recovery days, and — for me — yoga.
I still refuse to diet but I do try to get food into my mouth every 2 hours and have started keeping fruit and vegetables ready to go. Why every two hours? Timing became more important as training progressed. I didn’t like eating within a few hours of exercise but was ravenous afterwards, which was around 9:30 at night. If I didn’t eat, I wouldn’t sleep. I now know that eating within half an hour of finishing training is integral to jump starting recovery and so I’m careful to have something afterwards. It’s really helped — I’m not nearly as sore the next morning and have fewer “please don’t make me train today” days.
Sleep is still not perfect, but I’m having more good nights. I think as I get better at timing my nutrition, this will continue to improve.
As for my knees, I have discovered that a once a week yoga class seems to be the ticket. I don’t always get to class on Sunday — especially if I have a long bike ride that day — but knowing that there is a solution is very helpful. On weeks where I know I won’t make the class or that my knees start getting sore again, I do some of the yoga hip stretches on my own. They’ve made a huge difference.
Refueling is Key in Business Too
The concept of refueling is not unique to training — after all, there really is nothing new under the sun. In business, we call it personal or career development. I’m referring to anything that upgrades your skills, keeps you inline with technology advances, or injects creativity back into the mix.
Like with training for a triathlon, refueling is integral to business. Ever hit the creative wall and had nothing left for your client? Or perhaps you’re dragging your heals on learning social media. Or PayPal. Or a database program.
These things — when not addressed — can hold back your business and limit its success. Take some time today to block out some skills development time. Maybe you usually learn things on the fly, when you need them. That’s great — and a strategy I’ve used for years — but it’s also important to find some time and energy to go back and review what you know and what else you should know about that topic. Sometimes, that little extra effort will be the difference between getting by and really understanding what you’re doing.
Go For It!
I usually block out half days. If I watch a webinar and read some articles, that’s a half day. If I attend a session, that’s usually a half day with commuting (and lunch, don’t forget lunch.) And have fun! This should be like going to day camp, not cramming for a university final. Good luck!