Life can be a balancing act, whether it be work, family commitments, the dentist etc. let alone trying to tick off consistent, strong training. However, like with all balances it only takes one extra apple to upset the apple cart, especially when it comes to juggling long working hours with quality training. Luckily, certain steps can be taken to minimise the impacts of stress, whether it be physical, mental or emotional, to ensure you stay healthy whilst working on getting closer to your sporting goals:
1) Do not be a slave to your alarm
Of course when it comes to fitting in time to train, look after the children, maintaining a reasonable social life and getting to work on time, training early in the morning or late at night becomes a necessity to ensure the “perfect” balance can be created. However, an alarm day-in-day-out can take its toll on ensuring you hit the minimum (8 hours) of shut eye a night. The accumulated reduced sleep time not only impedes recovery but also can result in a depleted immune system making you more susceptible to illness, which will only hinder your performance. If you have early alarms in the week, then allow yourself a much deserved and needed lie in at the weekend to help compensate and ensure you can reset.
2) Fuel it
Whether you are training, working or rushing around doing the groceries this all requires energy. With a busy work schedule, let alone trying to train on top of this, fuelling is even more important. Inadequate energy consumption, especially from carbohydrates, can not only weaken your immune system but also increase cortisol levels in your body. Long term effects of raised cortisol can lead to weight gain, reduced bone health and muscle weakness, in turn affecting performance. During stressful periods of training and work, fasted sessions should be kept to a minimum to help regulate cortisol levels and ensure your body’s stressors are limited.
3) Time management
When time is precious, planning and ensuring to not overcommit is essential. Planning out the next week’s training, life commitments and social occasions, not only is a great practical exercise to ensure you are getting some “me” time but also ensures your load can be balanced throughout the week and adjusted as needed.
4) Be realistic
When juggling training with work and life, there will be times that training takes a hit, whether this be because you have a fast approaching deadline or your body needs that extra rest from one too many early mornings. And this is OK! Pushing through at these times, could in fact cause more harm than good as your body will already be working overtime to maintain balance and keep you healthy as your daily stressors have increased. A few days of reduced training will do far less harm than recovering from injury or having to take a full week off due to illness that has come about due to lack of recovery and heightened stress.
5) Stay healthy
Early mornings, long training hours, cold days and crowded commutes create the perfect storm for illnesses. However, there are supplements and considerations that can be taken to reduce the risk of falling ill and therefore directly affecting your performance. Twinned with a sufficient and balanced fuelling strategy, enough sleep and recovery between sessions, taking a daily dose of Vitamin D, C and Zinc can help support a healthy immune system. When it comes to maintaining health, the little things really do help!