Balance It Out: What it takes to be an Athlete in a Timeless World

by Vanessa Soulavy - Endurance Athlete
Vanessa Soulavy Arteasan 2

As a high performance athlete, having enough time for both work and training doesn’t have to be a problem, but it does take practice and planning. Balancing a demanding work schedule with rigorous training, race schedules and personal goals can sometimes be a bit overwhelming, but if you are driven and dedicated to an active, healthy lifestyle, and organize your time adequately, there is nothing you can’t achieve.

The key is exactly that- a combination of time management and a solid commitment to making the extra effort. With this you will be able to go the extra mile and celebrate the results. Planning will get you started and practice will keep you hooked and results will keep you motivated.

What’s your motivation?: The first thing to do is ask yourself whether you are looking to sports as part of a healthy lifestyle or if your goal is to excel and be competitive at your chosen sport? If you are someone who is new to an active lifestyle, be patient with your body. Take it slow and work your way towards your final objective. If you are looking to participate competitive sports demand an extra effort and certain sacrifices we must endure. Once you have established your mindset and goal, commit! Be proud of yourself. Focus on your own pace and don’t try to compare yourself to others or worry about what anyone says. Who knows? You may even become an example and inspiration to others!

There is always time if you make It: The phrase “there is not enough time” is a mantra of the lazy… time is there for us and if you are truly dedicated, you can minimize wasted time and make the most of your day with a little bit of planning. If you have a crazy schedule, you basically have 3 chances to work out during the day: early in the morning, during lunch break or at night.

  • Creating a MORNING Habit: In my experience getting the workout done in the morning is the most efficient way to make sure your day starts of with the right foot. Endorphins from a morning exercise session will leave you feeling alert and motivated to take up any challenge at the office.  Of course not all mornings are the same, and a bad night sleep will probably have you snoozing your way out of your training. This is perfectly normal; we are not machines and our bodies tell us exactly when it’s time to take a break. Once you create a habit (typically after 21 days), your body will be the one demanding that you get yourself out of bed because you crave the feeling of wellbeing you get from starting the day with a workout.
  • Creating a LUNCHTIME Habit: Having an ample lunch break can also give some people the opportunity of hitting the gym or the swimming pool for 45 minutes instead of sitting down for a lunch. This is not always the case, but if you have enough lunch break to squeeze in a bit of cardio or strength training, believe me you will feel so much better that having that pizza with extra time for a brownie and a cappuccino. And if you are competitively training for some event or goal, these small extra workouts can be key to giving you that extra strength you will need on competition day.
  • Creating an EVENING Habit: The after office training is always an option, if you are not a morning person (even though I strongly believe you can become one!) or your morning responsibilities don’t allow you to hit the gym early before work, you can always train at night. It’s not my favorite option for one reason: at the end of the day things come up! There are always a million excuses: heading to the bar with some friends, being too tired from a stressful day and just craving home or having a last minute meeting at the office or new work deadline.  If you manage to escape all this because, once again, you are committed, then swimming, running, biking, walking or hitting the gym after work is a great stress reliever. For some athletes, this is the only way of getting 2 workouts in a day (if you are preparing for a big race or are at a competitive level they you might need 2 daily workouts, but not every day).

Quality over Quantity: As you can see, I have mentioned a lot of 45 minute and 1 hour workouts, which is not something crazy to invest in. You can even start with a 30 minute routine to get your body engaged in the idea of becoming an active, healthy person, or even an athlete.  These short training sessions are more than enough. “The more, the merrier” does not always apply; in some cases, more actually means more chances for you to get injured, more neglecting work or family on the side, more obsessed with your sport (taking the fun out of it!). A 45 minute workout is more than enough to keep yourself healthy, strong and improving and in my case- competitive. It got me to my recent Ironman 70.3 World Championship qualification focusing on all the “quality” I could get out of my training and not wasting any time.  

Over time, you will find your own balance and learn what suits you personally. You can always consult a coach, an athlete or a friend that is already invested in a sport or an active lifestyle so you can take it slowly and enjoy exercise as part of a healthy, balanced life!


About the Author:

Vanessa Soulavy is an endurance athlete and 3x Ironman World Championship 70.3 Qualifier with 10 years of triathlon experience and 25 career podiums. After years as a marathoner she took the leap to triathlons and quickly became one of the top competitors in her home country, Venezuela. She has represented her country in multiple world races, and after relocating to Florida, has quickly become a growing name in the Miami triathlon community where she is both a competitor and a coach.

Instagram & Twitter: @vsoulavy

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