"Finding Balance With Life And Sports" was written by pro triathlete and Feed athlete, Angela Naeth. Angela has won multiple 70.3s, 2 Ironmans and in 2015, she was under the 9hr benchmark for female athletes in Ironman. She is a physical therapist by trade and has a Masters in Physical Therapy and Bachelors in Health Science. Check out her favorite training products HERE.
All too often as an athlete it’s difficult to maintain a balance in life. In theory, it sounds simple. But in practice, it's tougher than it sounds. Training daily and time commitments for recovery and rest make balance in your life seem impossible. The decisions you make daily affect your training and progression. This holds true for anyone trying to get the most out of their body. A job and life’s everyday demands compete with what you need to recover and/or time needed to train. So, how can you achieve balance while still achieving what’s possible?
Maintaining balance is what contributes to success and happiness. If any component in training is missing (sleep, recovery, nutrition, training, etc). it catches up with you and leads to not only physical but mental health issues. This applies to all areas of life, not just for sport. When you overdo or neglect any area in your life it will come back to bite you later. The solution: moderation. We’ve been told this many a time and it’s a solid word of advice, explained further in the tips below.
1. Give 90%. You’ve probably heard this before: give 90% to achieve 100%. If you were to give 100% all the time you would beat yourself down quickly. It’s a better mental and physical outlook to give 90% and be ready for race day.
2. Get a hobby - have the ability to shut off! Triathlon is one sport that takes up a lot of time. From swimming, biking, running, strength training, and recovery, you don’t have much left in a day. It’s all-consuming. With this said, if you don’t have an outlet, you may find yourself lost when things aren’t going so well. Finding other avenues for creativity can help take your mind off your performance and in turn, allow you to achieve greater success. I love to read, coach others, hang out in nature, and also just hang out with friends. Finding a number of outlets can give you that balance of not thinking about your sport 24/7. As the saying goes, leave work at work. This holds true for sport. Turn the brain off from power and heart rate training. Treat your home as your oasis.
3. Identify and Understand. To keep a balance in life you have to look at your thought process. How do you deal with failure and success? Are you optimistic? Do you beat yourself up after a bad performance or use it for learning? Understanding what your sport means to you provides valuable insight in how to balance life. Your sport can not determine who you are. Reflecting on why you do the sport can help create a sense of balance in life by giving you understanding on what’s the meaning behind it all for you and your life. A good rule of thumb is to prioritize the top three areas in our lives and keep that as a focus.
4. Know yourself. Understanding what you need - how much food, rest & recovery. Not skimping on these essentials will help you in other areas of your life, training, and keep you feeling healthy and balanced.
5. Spontaneity! Having a schedule is definitely needed to get done what needs to be done. But don’t forget to throw in something out of the ordinary and random to keep the fun and excitement. Traveling somewhere new to train or be with others can break the cycle of imbalance that an over-structured daily life can create.
6. Take a time out. Every day create time to just be with you. Unwind. Take a bath, read, listen to music. Sit in your backyard.
7. Choose your partner and friends. Finding someone you connect with on a daily basis that provides you with what you need and you for them can be vital in finding balance in life. Support, love, sharing, connecting… it’s a big balance of being human. Friends, co-workers, training partners, and family- they are all integral parts of your circle to keep you balanced emotionally.
8. Recovery Days. Plan your weeks, and even macro cycles of 3-4 weeks with recovery days. Periodization is key and restoration periods are fundamental to the success of an athlete. Planning days off and fun activities unrelated to training can keep the positive vibes strong and offer a great life-balance perspective.
9. Be a kid! Just the other day a friend and I went and played mini-golf and played arcade games. Don’t be afraid to get silly. Be a kid. It’s liberating and well, it’s fun!
10. Nature… Above all else, take some time to be out in nature. Even some simple time in the back yard under a tree can help you feel refreshed. Hiking can be key for connecting with nature after hard efforts in training.