Rory McIlroy altered the make-up of his day dramatically when British trainer Steve McGregor started working with him in late 2010. McIlroy’s new strengthening routine includes five sessions per week, 90 minutes per session, training indoors, outdoors, with weights, on the treadmill, doing sprints, and swimming when he’s near the beach. To stay fresh and not overuse certain muscles, everything gets changed up every 6-8 weeks.
In April 2005, Paula Radcliffe talked to the Sunday Times about a day in her life, which began around 8-ish with a 12-15 mile run, a big breakfast, 2 hours in the gym, lunch and a 2-hour nap followed by a final 1-hour run for a total of 5-6 hours of training each day. At the time, she was running about 160 miles a week.
Non-athletes have fascinating days as well. Warren Buffet wakes up around 6:45am, reads the newspaper and rarely makes it to the office until after the market opens. He spends 80% of his time reading and 20% of the day talking on the phone (although he believes it’s closer to 90/10). He hates having a schedule or a full calendar. His advice to new investors: allocate even more time to reading than he does!
There’s a trend among these successful people. They are singularly focused. But what are we mere mortals to do when life happens and we’re forced to compromise something? It happens to elite athletes as well, and their success suffers the same as ours. Just look at the stats of McIlroy and Caroline Wozniaki during their courtship.
Nearly 4 hours of my daytime activities are devoted to some sort of training. Some days there are 2 hours of running and an hour of strengthening while 3-4 hours of running dominates other days. If there is a particularly hard training morning, an easy afternoon at home follows. Life has been predictable with little compromise.
Then I went back to school.
School begins at noon on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. The alarm marks the start of the day at 5am. We paddle rafts, canoes or kayaks until 7pm on Wednesday, but are set free at 4pm on Thursday. Tuesday we climb the 50 ft Alpine Tower until 5pm. Rescue squad training begins that night at 7pm and lasts until 10pm, unless we get a call from some poor soul lost on top of the mountain, in which case we don’t go home until that poor soul is safe and sound.
Saturday is a long run day of 15-22 miles while Friday and Sunday are 5-7 mile recovery runs. Monday,Tuesday and Thursday are medium long runs of 8-14 miles at varying speeds, but there is no run at all on Wednesday. In between homework, housework, yard work and writing to this blog, I spend a few hours here and there working at my new MedicForce job. Strength training gets squeezed into the schedule on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. Every day of the week my husband picks up where I leave off with cooking, grocery shopping, paying bills, taking care of the dogs and a host of other things I don’t want to admit.
Last Monday I was doing warm-up laps around the track and noticed my easy pace was a full minute slower than from the week before. My legs were moving but they seemed detached from my body. I was tired.
If I had been measuring my resting heart rate every morning before getting out of bed, this realization would have come several days sooner. Runners are lucky in that our sport includes a warning system for overtraining. It has been my experience to ignore the warning signs of overtraining inevitably leads to injury.
At dinner one night my husband asked how I felt about life being so busy. I asked him the same question in return. We agreed this schedule is not ideal, and it is unfortunate everything is happening all at once. These things are all good things to pursue, however, and it’s only for one year we reasoned.
That same night I re-wrote my training schedule….. this being the time where training must play nice with life.