In an ideal world, we’d all get to train like pros, but in reality, cycling is often our third priority as we balance the demanding nature of work life and family life. So, can we really have it all?
To make the most of our cycling potential, we need to commit 100% to the training plan, but without first considering how realistic that is, in the face of other life demands, sometimes it feels impossible and leads to feelings of failure. So then, what’s the best approach to truly finding the balance?
As a cycling coach, I pride myself on personalisation, getting amazing results from clients who have many demands in their lives. Success is achieved because we are realistic upfront about their commitment level, taking into consideration their individual needs, and creating a plan accordingly. If you don’t have the opportunity for a coach though, there are some things that you can do.
Perfection is doing the best you can in the context of your life — Chrissie Wellington
The first thing to consider for work/life balance is what exactly are your individual needs? What challenges do you face with work and family life that are personal to you? In most cases, challenges will be around time, health or money, so let’s consider these below.
When there aren’t enough hours in the day
If you’re squeezed for time, first up you’ll need a plan that gets the most out of every hour you have. If you have less time and more money, then this is the instance to invest in a coach. You’ll likely be looking at a plan with less of the longer base miles, and more of getting the most out of every second in the saddle. Secondly, early mornings will be your secret weapon. Willpower is elusive and a bit of a myth — the key to membership to the ‘5am club’ is preparation and then habit.
When health is affected by life stressors
There are many stressors from work life, and family life isn’t always plain sailing either! In the face of stress we often reach for the junk food and stimulants, and stop sleeping well. Take note, this is a negative feedback loop and simply puts more pressure on your already struggling body. If you want to be the best you can be in the saddle, then it is absolutely critical that you take hold of your health in the face of stressors. Eat extra healthfully, go to bed early and if you can, try some meditation or yoga.
When the pennies are tight
If the demands of your life are causing you to be ‘spread a little thin’, it can be scary to be part of such an expensive sport. It can also be a source of unwanted stress to spend money on cycling if cashflow is an issue, but if you’re looking after your health and getting enjoyment from cycling, then it’s important. Interest free schemes are commonplace in bike shops now, making buying a race bike more accessible. There is basic kit out there at decent prices and, finally, never forget that #outsideisfree. At the end of the day, cycling is about, well, cycling. It’s easy to get caught up in expensive races and race kit, but what’s important is the health and happiness you take from it.
I’m a big fan of the quote from Chrissie Wellington, ‘perfection is doing the best in the context of your life.’ She nailed it there, if you aren’t a pro, be realistic as to the level of commitment you can afford. Once you have your goals along with your understanding of what you can commit to within your circumstances, you’ll be on the road to health and success.