Every athlete I have ever worked with (in any sport) is a type A to some degree.
Even if it isnt the dominant aspect of their personality, when you start thinking about an event that requires multiple hours of racing over multiple disciplines, it tends to bring out the A, even the dormant ones.
Add into that a busy life and things can get a little out of control.
I like control. Ok, honestly, I love control. I like the perception of empowerment that effectively controlling the things in my life provides me. Not to sound conceited but it does provide a very strong sense of worth when everything works in your favour.
But control isn’t about controlling everything. That isn’t balanced for one, but it also creates a mindset that you must control absolutely everything that happens in your life, work and training/ racing. This is simply not realistic, no matter how much we want it to be different; life is going to throw stuff at you that you are not prepared for.
Bad control freaks are fantastic at controlling things but terrible at it when they cannot. Being a good control-freak should be about understanding that not everything needs to be controlled.
Part of what our job is as coaches (and something that separates us from a lot of other coaching entities) is that athletes find balance within their lives. This is part of the TriSpecific philosophy.
Without balance, you have excess stress and with excess stress you have a complicated life and an inability to handle training loads, remain healthy and perform optimally.
Simple as that.
Some people can tolerate more stress than others (or think they can). But really, no-one is immune to it. It is how you manage your stress, how you learn to control it, that really matters.
How you handle stress – regardless of whether you are preparing for a race or just dealing with life – is super important.
Stress is cumulative, which means it doesnt really just go away. Which means it cannot be ignored. Stress is something that you will sometimes have control over and other times not; it just happens and you have to be able to roll with those punches. It is better to control the things you can and forget the rest.
But you can choose how you respond to stress.
Everyone is time poor. Everyone has their own set of commitments, responsibilities and personal wants and desires. I dont think it is about something having to give way to allow the others things in your life more space, I simply think it is about learning to manage things in an effective manner.
You have the same amount of time as every one else each day so it is up to you how you use it. Some people tend to just waste their time chasing their tails, others somewhere in the middle and some (a smaller percentage) choose to manage their days, hours, minutes with supreme efficiency. It is an absolute skill and takes some time to refine but has to start with the clear intention of becoming an exceptional time-manager.
This is not an impossibility.
I am not trying to sound as though I am not cognisant of peoples daily commitments or personal stressors. I truly am aware of how busy your days are. For me as a coach this just simply means maximising training as best as possible; getting the most from your body and allowing time to recover and do the things you need to do each day. That is what we do.
This doesn’t mean at times you will not get stressed.
Stress is sometimes par for the course – endurance training creates fatigue, life creates fatigue, lack of sleep creates fatigue, stress creates fatigue. How you manage those is really important. You have to have a strategy. But that doesnt mean tired and cranky should be a permanent state. That is not what we teach and it is certainly not how we live.
Certainly as you get closer to a big race, training does tend to move closer into the spotlight – it doesnt have to take over everything – consuming your entire life. There still has to be balance.
You need to devise, find, create, a strategy that works for you and your family. For the most part where I see athletes make errors here is in the failure to communicate the structure and scheduling of training effectively. The more informed and involved you can make your family in the process, the better understanding they will have.
Communication underpins everything. This is true for relationships, business and training.
Sometimes you need to stop and breathe. Yeah it is probably the last thing you want to do right now, but that is almost always the first thing you need to do. If you dont have clarity, you are just jumping in and out of chaos.
Wanting to succeed is great. Anything that moves you away from mediocrity is great. More people should aspire to be the best version of themselves that they can be. But when you let the pressures of life take over, and cant work to find true balance, then you dont actually move far away from mediocrity at all. You just shuffle the board around a little but the outcome remains the same: you are stressed and tired and time-poor.
To really control things in your life you have to accept that some things are just not worth your time. This is time-management 101. What really matters in your world? Focus on that. And if it clashes with something else that you love, then find a way to balance the two.
There really isnt one singular right way to do this. But there is certainly is a wrong way.
You could start by prioritising everything each week. Rank the tasks that absolutely HAVE to be done (for the greater good of balance). List them in order of importance.
Then break each day into the same format: ranking your daily responsibilities and wants in order of what is most important to you.
Being a true control freak is ok. By that I mean someone who likes to control everything that they possibly can, and letting go of the things that are beyond control. Because to me if you like controlling things, why waste time on trying to control things that you simply cannot?
Trust me, because I am an über control freak, but I understand that somethings are simply not worth controlling. Find out what is important to you and your family and work on controlling that. Forget the rest.