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Surviving as Setting an Example
By:  Arthur Ayers   (2014/10/21)

Members of XC Ottawa and like-minded people are at various phases of young and not-so-young adulthood and all obviously love to train and race. I personally can’t seem to function properly without it… sound like an addict? 

One wonders. I am a lawyer in solo private practice in a difficult market. No billable hours*, just bills. I have to market myself, solicit all my clients, bill them, meet the Bar’s accounting and record keeping requirements, learn the field by myself and then actually do the work. I network beyond the field of law to open up other possibilities, which is more fun than those awkward “business circles”**, but means I’m on three volunteer boards of directors and teach two law courses - those are paid, but barely. I also have two young children and am part of two ski teams: XC Ottawa as an athlete and XC Chelsea Masters as a part-time coach. Daily incoming emails: about 85. 

Indeed, sometimes I really do feel like I’m drowning. But for various reasons I do all these things to survive – as in, pay the bills – so what holds it all together is mindset: when I mention the training, people often ask, “where do you find the time?” The answer is, as with anything I do: I take the time. 

If there is anything current, former or “surviving” elite athletes should demonstrate and set an example by doing, it is keeping an active lifestyle, no matter how busy life gets. This is especially true at the thirty-something-just-had-kids-bought-a-house-finally-started-a-real-job-oh-my-god-I’m-in-debt age. The pressure to get that one more task done and just skip the exercise is real. Most people succumb. 

But you shut the computer off, let your voicemail fill up and head out for a burn. Maybe it’s just the commute to and from a meeting, but in some cases, it can add up to two hours of distance training. Running late? Time to do some high-intensity training! Missed your resistance training? Carry a few extra files. Need to touch base with a client? Use your fancy earphones that have a hands-free microphone command to let you make and take phone calls while commuting and training – my kind of multi-tasking. Once in a while of course, you treat yourself to an exercise-only session. 

The result – you show people it is possible. You can get an hour or two of exercise per day while working 60+hours/week. When you multi-task and commute on your own power, you also save money (no gas or parking), save the environment and contribute to the demand for more bike paths and lanes and more sports infrastructure. I dare to dream of a day when most average office buildings have heated, indoor bike/gear racks with cleaning facilities, showers and change rooms. Utopic to be sure – only an abysmal 4% of people commute by bicycle, despite the impression the proportion is higher – but we are living evidence it’s a better way and the trend is in our favour. 

Therefore, because we understand the benefits of exercise personally and because we fortunately have the easier task of keeping the habit rather than forming it, we should lead the charge. … and not just to grown-ups: 


* Billable hours refers to time spent on a client matter you can charge for, but more importantly, it’s a minimum number of hours you need to bill, failing which you lose your job the following year. The average yearly target in Eastern Canada is 1600 hours, which works about to 33.3 hours per week (times 48 weeks). Doesn’t sound too bad until you consider the non-billable time you need to spend to be able to bill that much. 

** Groups composed of different professionals, generally only one representative for each field (ex. One business person, one lawyer, one doctor, one accountant, etc.), who meet periodically to talk about generating business for each other – kind of like a dating show.
Interesting Reading. . .
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