We all have lives. We all work (sometimes on a fixed scheduled, sometimes on shift rotations). Some of us have children: newborns, toddlers, kids, teens, fur babies. We all have “stuff” to do.

I get it. I really do. The “struggle” is real. However, let me ask you this:

Where is your “me” time amongst all the time spent on and for others?

Our health is even more important these days, especially you folks who have a family to take care of. We already know that eating healthy takes care of the engine; physical training takes care of the body; and we can’t ignore the psychological either, which takes care of the systems and computer.

Heaping Dose of Reality:

My uncle was a MVP basketball player in a professional league in another country. Pretty cool, huh? Once he retired from the sport, he picked up some bad habits. He started smoking heavily, and he ate a lot of unhealthy stuff, and he only played basketball with friends – occasionally. That shit caught up to him and he had a quadruple bypass a year ago. He was only 46. That scared his family and his only son who is just finishing college. He’s still recovering from the surgery and still struggling to do physical activities and eating well and has had to take extended time off from work. I can only imagine what it would be like to be his son losing his father. His mother abandoned them a very long time ago.

I’m sure a lot of us think that training for a triathlon or any event (or just plain training) requires a huge time expenditure. I mean, three disciplines to be relatively proficient in all at once just to participate in a triathlon event? Pretty tall order.

Ain’t nobody got time for that!

Hear Me Out:

If finish time isn’t your focus, but rather, crossing the finish line is, then even one hour a week will get you there.

Furthermore consider this, training even for one hour a week is surprisingly more than what a great portion of the population does. This report shows that only a quarter of all Canadians are considered moderately active. That was done in 2005. I don’t think that number has changed much in 11 years. I know for a fact there hasn’t been a population explosion of athletes in my area.

If a quadruple bypass doesn’t scare you or if the numbers aren’t enough to get you active – I know I’m not motivated by numbers all that much – then consider the ones I came up with as a few good reasons to try:

1. Boredom

Boredom is a killer.

There’s nothing on TV or they’re all reruns, plus everybody’s got PVR and Netflix, so all your shows ain’t going nowhere.

There’s only so many chores in a day you can do until boredom sinks in.

Lousy weather is making you stay in, but you can only stay cooped up for only so long before you begin getting restless.

The blogs you follow don’t have new posts and you don’t feel like reading a book.

The mall can get boring really fast.

Playing your MMO will leave you with nothing to do in the evening.

You’re bored… There’s nothing to do… Sigh/Cry…

What about swimming? Running? Biking? What about joining a club or Master’s club? Take your family to the pool and have fun! Go for a run or bike ride if it’s nice out or use your stationary bike and treadmill if it’s not. Hit the gym if that’s what you want to do. Go skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, or cross country skiing (great aerobic exercise, second to swimming by the way).

Any activity is better than boredom. Unless of course you’re just being lazy, in which case you need to Shut Up & Tri!

2. Get Away from the Kids, but also do it for the Kids

I know people who still go on dates even after being married with kids. They even call them that – date night. I think it’s awesome and it works great for these people. They do it to keep the relationship open. They do it to keep things vibrant. But I think they do it to get away from the kids.

I know one guy in my Master’s Swim Club who uses that one hour, three times a week for himself. He gets away from his kid and wife to focus on his health and be around likeminded people. It’s what’s his. You know what’s his wife’s thing? She enjoys walking their 15 year old Jack Russell for an hour each day.

My brother in law commits to Crossfit 3-4 times a week to focus on himself, but it also gets him away from his hyper, headache inducing kids for an hour each day. It also helps him defeat boredom since he’s the type that can and will play video games all day if allowed to do so (he played COD for 8 hours/day for almost a week!). Being a business owner isn’t always being busy, I guess. And there’s not much going on when the kids are in school, either.

All these people do it to get away from their kids, but they do it for their kids as well. Parents still dating is a sign that they are working together to maintain a relationship and the kids see that effort. Swimming with a club is a positive role model for their children and the father can teach/coach his kids outside of club time so they can learn an invaluable lesson/skill and spend quality time together. A father doing Crossfit is making sure he stays healthy and fit so that he can ensure he’ll be around to watch his two sons growing up and also so he can have the energy to keep up with them!

3. Scratch that Competitive Itch

Being human and being naturally competitive, even if we say we aren’t, is healthy. Constantly setting goals, improving ourselves, and watching our progress can be quite uplifting to our self esteem. However, there aren’t a lot of outlets for us to scratch that itch.

Corporate settings will often pit us against our own friends and coworkers, which is, in my opinion, pretty disgusting. We all want that one position, that one promotion, but we need to be a “team player” and yet we must compete with our own teammates. Politics and emotions can run wild. I know, I’ve seen it. Those who were once good friends are no longer due to something work related, like trying to go for the same job.

Those yearly performance reviews all point out flaws and weaknesses that upper management wants you to work on and they want to see you work harder, but they never see your personal progress or strengths. I wonder why?

Jealousy, sadness, anger, frustration, feelings of inadequacy, and lack of having control is commonly felt, but seldom shown. These are all not very good and quite unhealthy. Bottled up emotions can be one emotion away from popping off!

Training for an event, or even better, training against yourself can relieve that itch. Imagine you ran a 30 minute 5km. You can compete with yourself by creating a goal, planning, and training and doing “events” to try and beat your previous times (you can map out a course and use that as your time trial). You’re now in control and responsible for your own results. You are accountable to yourself. Kinda sounds like being an entrepreneur, doesn’t it?

Trying to be better than your “yesterday’s ” self is your competition. Everything else work related is baggage left at the door. Training can be what you look forward to after a rough day at work. It is very hard to focus on your training while thinking about what happened at work, and vice versa.

Forbes magazine did an article about triathletes in the corporate world and found that these people developed skills that would make them successful or would make great CEOs. Something to think about.

4. Stress Relief 

Unless you’ve been living under a rock or off-grid, it is a well known fact that moderate exercise can reduce stress. I don’t need to link research articles from the Mayo Clinic or Harvard Medical to prove that moderate exercise can reduce stress (see what I did there?)

We live in a time where people are facing high levels of stress. There is no more such thing as job security – STRESS. The economy keeps tanking – STRESS. Mortgages and amortizations are getting higher and longer – STRESS. Education is getting more costly – STRESS. Children and teens are behaving much worse than previous generations – ANGER, DISAPPOINTMENT, STRESS. And more… STRESS!

Focusing on your own thing can be a huge stress reducer. Focusing on three disciplines allows for flexibility and versatility in your training schedule, for example. You choose what you want to do – you are in control. Alternatively, you can relinquish control over to an instructor/coach/personal trainer/sensei and be free of one less thing while they do their work on you.

Training will reduce cortisol levels (stress hormone), increase cardiopulmonary efficiency, decrease your resting heart rate, and pump up endorphins (“feel good” neurological chemical) to name a few. If you do boxing or martial arts, you can even let off some steam by working the heavy bag or pads or take things out on your sparring partner (go easy on them though, they’re not really your enemy… Or are they?).

There is another form of stress that is often overlooked that can be reduced by training and that is stress on the joints and skeletal system. Endurance and strength training can fortify bones and make us leaner, which takes off excess stresses on our knees, back, shoulders, etc. Stronger muscles can improve stability and our posture.

5. You Don’t Have to Actually Do an Event

You don’t.

I trained for years running. I trained on the bike casually for a couple of years. And I’ve only started taking my swimming seriously just this year, but I was swimming off and on for maybe two years.

I did a handful of running events, but nothing serious. I then got injured (I ruptured a ligament in my right foot) and it took a very long time to recover and then when I finally got healthy I did a sprint triathlon.

The only reason I did the triathlon in the first place was because my buddy said, “we should do a triathlon.” He didn’t do one – yet. But I did.

Although, I never would have done a triathlon had he not said anything. I would have continued to run. I would have seldomly biked, since biking isn’t much my sport. And I would have swam maybe once or twice a month to change things up. All the training I was doing was because I enjoyed doing them, I needed to keep my body healthy so my mind could focus on its self (depression is a real bitch), not because I signed up for an event.

I’m a runner. I love running. I love being outdoors and beating my previous times and running faster, further. This is the one sport where I love to push myself and see progress.

I’m not a cyclist. I’m really slow. But I do love exploring new areas in my neighbourhood or conquering massive, steep hills. However, I don’t love the stupid drivers on the road: Me on a 25 pound bike versus a 3000 pound car, no thank you!

I’m a terrible swimmer. I’m self-taught and it shows. But there’s something about being in the water that’s refreshing. It’s also fun to face the challenge of being in a completely unnatural environment (for humans) and learning to swim fast, efficiently, and effortlessly. This is one sport where there is always something to work on, to improve, and progress is often seen.

Nothing in my training had triathlon as the end goal. I just happen to do the three sports, that’s all. Triathlon was merely a byproduct.

Each sport has a low barrier of entry, except for swimming, perhaps. But anyone with ambition can sign up for lessons and coaching and within a few months be swimming laps in the pool (once you sign up for lessons and coaching you are committed unless you decide not to show up). If you have a bike and a helmet, you can hit the road or trails and start biking. And virtually anyone can get proper fitting running shoes and start off with a walk/run program. And if you want to do an event, that’s your choice. But know this: If you sign up for an event your motivation to prepare for it will skyrocket!