To get a job or not?
So, youíve ski raced through high school, you've graduated from college/university with all your knowledge (and important papers) in hand and enter the work world. You automatically think - "Boy, am I ever going to train lots, now that I donít have any homework to do in the evenings". Well, think again. Iím going to advise you about some of the obstacles that can interfere with your sport ambitions when you enter the work world. Get ready, the list can actually end up being quite long.
The way I see it, there are three situations in this dilemma. The first and most ambitious, is that youíre good enough to justify making a go at the 'dream' (full time ski racer!) and youíve got a hint of a support system to help you get there. (Itís Canada, folks) The second situation is the one where you lack the results to make the next big step, but youíve got a great job opportunity. This normally means you choose the work world and say good bye to skiing competitively. The third situation is what I call the fence-sitter, where you might possess sports ability and work world skills, and choose to pursue them both. I chose the work world, but wouldnít let go of my desire to see how well I could do. The focus of this article is about how to best manage being a fence-sitter.
I am continuing to realize that my goals have shifted. My anticipated peak has now moved somewhat lower. Iíd say that I am not a 24-hour athlete anymore. Rather, Iíd say that Iím now reduced to being a 16-hour athlete. Here are some of the things that get in the way:
Your jobís demands
If youíre planning on being a skier to the best of your ability, consider the type of work youíre planning on doing. When I say this, I donít just mean things like getting your weekends off and how many hours a week you work. Consider the amount of stress and responsibility youíll have. Laugh all you want, but an of abundance stress can interfere with those dreams of crushing BjŲrnís 10km classic time. Telling yourself that youíre tough will only go so far. The biggest lesson I learned from my ďPsychophysiology of StressĒ course at U of T, was that stress inhibits the proper function of lypotytic enzymes. In real English, that means that stress ends up burning more muscle glycogen, so that at the end of a stressful day, you come home feeling like youíve done a 30km classic on really dry snow. Donít ignore how stress will affect your ability to train. I find my volume or intensity will have to be reduced in a stressful week, otherwise Iíll get a cold. So remember kids, when it comes to job responsibility, just say no!
Smart people that I know have always advised me to either live close to work, or close to the playground. My addition to this is: If you want to ski fast, live close to work and play. There isnít enough time out there in a heavy training week to waste in traffic. Training camps are often valuable at pointing this out. When you donít have to drive anywhere, look at how much training can be accomplished. If you could live in a convenient location, you might actually use that saved time to get a real life back! Ideally if youíre a 24-hour athlete, your life should be a training camp.
Living arrangements Ė roommates, food, eating, etc.
Iíd love to start telling you about a roommate I lived with once who told everybody that he was a vegetarian. He never actually ate vegetables, only Kraft Dinner. Seriously though, in addition to getting along with roommates, it certainly helps if they are athletes of some type. Theyíll generally accept the fact that Sunday morning youíre waking at 6am to go and test klister in the rain (Yaaaay!) and let you get some sleep when you need it. Is it better live by yourself? Recently I thought that this would be better. For one thing, I thought I would be able to sleep more. Well maybe it isnít as good as it sounds. Sharing the meals saves everybody time, especially if your job entails finding a cure for cancer or something like that. Itís probably worth getting 30 min less sleep once in a while. Trying to make quality nutrition (that is tasty) in a decent amount of time is sometimes difficult. It is even more challenging to do this five days in succession. Living with another skier or athlete definitely improves this situation. The give-and-take that goes with meal preparation goes a long way. Besides, I believe that living with someone else teaches one to become more tolerable, something I know I need.
Outside hobbies or activities
You know that volleyball league starting at work? What about that night course in building your own sauna? Forget about it! You know that thing called TV? Serious time waster (Even though everything on the Simpsons is so very true). Skiing is a very time consuming passion. I canít think of another sport that can have such extensive demands - training, commuting, waxing, etc. If you want to ski fast you donít have to necessarily say good bye to these things, just put them on hold until your low volume training cycle comes around in April or May!
Pushing yourself to your limits in skiing, while maintaining a full time job requires a careful eye on the obstacles to success. It is easy to fall into the habits of losing time and losing good habits (especially when youíre making money!). Being able to recognize them is the first step in making a change. Sometimes it takes a step backwards to see all of this. My friends and previous coaches were often helpful in pointing out these easily preventable pitfalls. Although we are in an individual sport, a team effort can produce higher results for everyone in the long run.