Words by Reese Ruland
The key is in not spending time, but in investing it.
Stephen R. Covey
Life is often defined by various ages. At 18 you’re somehow an adult. At 21 you can legally drink, 25 you can rent a car. After that, it’s kind of a blur. There are various milestones that people generally make along the way to retirement, such as marriage, kids, promotion, having a midlife crisis. But personally, I think life can be broken down to periods of different priorities and how one allots their time to those things they deem important. As one ages, and presumably gets wiser, has more experience, figures out “who they are” etc, these priorities shift and sometimes change entirely.
In middle school, I only cared about horseback riding and running. If I had my way, all my time would have been consumed by those two things. In college, it was skiing, running, exploring, socializing and graduating. After college, the pie chart of time allocation changes so quickly that it’s difficult to remember what was important. But eventually, I came to realize what things were vital to my happiness. The biggest ones being having healthy friendships/relationships and spending time outside cycling and running. As I got further and further away from college and more into the world of gainful employment I had to come to terms with mandatory responsibilities that I had spent my time on, mainly working so that I’m able to survive in the world, as skipping class was no longer a viable option.
Each day, week, month, year, we, as adults, are allotted a specific amount of time to carry out the extracurricular activities that we deem are important. Our pie chart of priority expenses if you will. For most of us, myself included, a majority of that pie is gobbled up by work. Followed by the activities you enjoy like spending time with loved ones, going to your kid’s soccer games, vacations, etc you get the point. And we are left with, sometimes, a handful of hours that are a blank canvas. These are yours to do as you please. You could spend them on Instagram seeing other people “live” their lives. Or you could watch Netflix for 10 hours a week. Or you could go outside and move around if that’s your thing.
How does this relate to training? As an athlete with a full-time job, I am frequently faced with “this or that” type dilemmas when it comes to how I’m spending my free time. Finding a good balance between my priorities and obligations can be difficult, as it’s generally done through trial and error. And the error can be painful. Socializing, having people over for dinner and drinks, going out with friends is a huge part of my life, as I’m sure it is for many. However, I learned fairly quickly that staying out till midnight and trying to ride for five hours the next day, just wasn’t conducive to feeling good, though I’m sure some people can pull that off. Now that I’m an old fart, I still have fun with friends, but I go to bed at 8:30 because if I don’t I’ll feel horrible for two days. Like those before us knew all along, sometimes the old saying about “everything in moderation,” is accurate.
The same is true with training. If you once had a job that allowed for flexible hours and now it doesn’t or if you become a new parent, your schedule and priorities obviously change quickly. Maybe you can’t do a run in the morning or that six-hour ride on the weekend now. The important things to realize are, fighting against your fix responsibilities will only cause friction and likely burnout, and the key to creating balance is being creative, flexible and understanding when it comes to dealing with shifts in schedules or free time.
As we get older, we all begin to play with the delicate balance of time management so we can meet our goals and ultimately settle into a happy routine that makes us feel fulfilled. I know myself well enough that now I need to have two to three structured cycling workouts a week and also allow for three to four days of running. Any more structure than that and I feel confined. And less and I’ll be apt to just ride zone two for 1-5 hours a day. My goals, mainly doing well at a few key races and having the fitness to enjoy big adventure rides and runs, are pervasive throughout my daily routine and in the decisions I make.
Reese is an avid trail runner and cyclist. When she isn’t out riding gravel roads or running up a mountain near her home in Colorado, she’s drinking hot tea and staring at her French Bulldog, Loaf.
Check out @reeseruland for proof.