by Bob Albright, D.O.
The first week of August was pretty remarkable. I spent it hypoxic, exhausted, sore and sleep-deprived.
It was great!
I was lucky enough to live the dream yet again. This year’s version was a Tour of the Rockies. I met great people, saw incredible scenery, pushed into cycling territory I have never dreamed of, and, perhaps most importantly, learned a ton.
It’s probably no surprise to many of you that I am not gifted in math. Nonetheless, I have been pondering the fraction we all try to maximize as athletes. Think of the denominator (the bottom number) as the time you have, and the numerator (the top number) as the way you’d like to fill your t
Now the numerator, that’s where the action is!
We age-groupers need to sleep, eat and occasionally bathe. Many of us have families. Hence, some of the numerator is pretty unalterable as we attempt to carve out time to train.
And of course, there’s WORK!
Here is the main lesson I learned at this year’s camp. As I got to know my fellow athletes, a common theme quickly became apparent. These elite age groupers and young pros (it seemed all/most of them had been to or were going to Kona or were epic camp vets…) had changed their fraction.
They hadn’t figured out a magic time stretcher. Nope. Rather, they changed their livelihoods to match their athletic passion. Or they had the courage to make a change in their working lives to allow maximum commitment to their athletic performance. I heard of sabbaticals, leaves of absence, telecommuting, maximizing times of job transitions and career changes.
These accounts revealed the secret of the pointy leading edge of the field: the numerator. Meshing your athletic passions into your work life, or decreasing the hours spent at work allows much more of the numerator to be focused on training and recovery. This is certainly not news, I realize, and readers of this site have heard this before, but personally, seeing the dramatic success these guys have achieved was a real eye-opener.
“Yeah, right-o Bobbo, but I still gotta’ make a living,” you say.
True, and this being the case, you have a choice to make. The denominator will not change for any of us. So, maybe the ferrous myth of the 0430 wake-up-work-out, nooner-squeeze-in, followed by the after work town-line world championship group ride, while running the work team, raising wonderful children and treating your spouse to the warmth and love they deserve... should just plain die. It is not sustainable, it’s not balanced, it’s probably unhealthy and it – is – a – lie. I suppose what I’m proposing is matching your athletic and personal life (fraction) in order to avoid unrealistic expectations and the dreaded “whole number” where the numerator divided by the denominator is equal to or even greater then 1!
How’s my fraction you ask? Hmmm. Like I said, I’m pretty crummy at math.
Good luck out there.
Bob Albright, D.O., is a Nephrologist and Assistant Professor of Medicine at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. You can contact him at email@example.com.