Finding the Balance

By Alex Russeau | April 17, 2013, 12 a.m. (ET)

alexMany of the greatest athletes understand the importance of maintaining an effective balance in their lives. Every great athletic achievement is the derivative of countless hours of hard work, sacrifices, and of course, the all too forgotten… fun! In addition, the ones who understand and sustain a healthy balance remain engaged and focused longer than their counterparts. However, finding that equation never comes easy and requires a few trial and errors.

Determining my equation in the sport of triathlon began sometime in college where I learned of the Collegiate Recruitment Program (CRP). The CRP is designed to transition single sport athletes who have exhausted their collegiate eligibility into multisport athletes. One of the biggest challenges encountered is for one to learn how to equally train for each discipline. Led by program director and Olympian Barb Lindquist, she provides some of her personal experiences to help recruits find a footing in a very different world.

As a former collegiate runner, I learned how to negotiate a heavy class load with homework and Division I athletics. However, incorporating two additional sports to my weekly training required patience and dedication. My swimming background consisted of just two years of high school swimming where I learned a bit about the struggle bus while trying not to drown. Additionally, I had to transform from a Tour de France TV viewer to an actual rider.

To add another variable, graduating from college opens the door to the job market where I was fortunate enough to start a career as a Civil Engineer. I’m sure there is some statistic out there but I know I am just one of the 90+ percent who have to find time to train while maintaining a full-time job. Over the past year, I have learned to embrace the workweek and it has become some of my best training days! Due to the consistent nature of a full time job, I can formulate a training schedule that allows me to focus on the task at hand and not worry about when I will need to squeeze in a workout.

Here are some tips I have learned that may help:

  • Swim early: by swimming before work, your body is quickly awakened by the chilly water. As a result, I tend to feel more alert and active during the morning hours of work.
  • Use the lunch hour: Many workplaces have an hour for lunch that could be utilized for a midday workout. By running during lunch, I can shut my mind off of work for a while and really get after some quality workouts.
  • Trainer rides while enjoying your favorite prime time television makes for some effective multi-tasking!

alexTraining is only one component of being a successful triathlete. Races in themselves become a prime example of how having solid balance can lead to a successful race. 2012 was my first shot at being only a triathlete and not having a team to travel and compete with. I learned that creating your own support team is vital for success. My best races were ones that I traveled with friends or family to keep me occupied and take my mind off the upcoming race. 

For example, my best race last year comprised of an on the whim offer to my fiancé and half of my future wedding party to go on a road trip and camp out at the race site. I had so much fun in preparation for the race my mind was completely clear by race time. As a result, I was able to completely focus on the race and truly enjoy the sport we love.

Finding your balance takes time and lots of iterations to get it right. It’s important to utilize the workweek to your advantage and surround yourself with a support team at home and in travels. It’s my hope that by having a year under my belt of learning my proper balance of being a full time triathlete and worker, I will see far greater success. The final part of the equation is to have fun and enjoy the ride!