The oil and vinegar of athletes….mixing employment and rigorous training

Have you ever passed a kidney stone?  How about delivered a baby with no epidural or anesthesia?  Either of those events can be described with words, but until you go through one of these life changers, you don’t get what the experience is all about.

Training for the ITU World Championship has a lot in common with those events.  I have this unique yet variable regimen that I have tried to write out a couple of times over the last two weeks.  Each effort falls far short of summarizing what I am trying to say.  So, I am going to use some mind maps to get my story out.

See the chart below.  I can put most everything in three boxes.

This mind map shows the 3 boxes that Jeff Gaura tries to put everything in.
Mind Map of a day

There are daily roles and responsibilities that I do that everyone experiences….no reason to dwell on that.  The other two items represent disconnected activities that I have to mix together.  This burden is new to me, at this level.

The day starts anywhere from 3:30 am to 5:30 am.  I don’t have an alarm clock.  The time after I wake up represents my most productive and insightful time of the day.  I go outside right away, regardless of weather, and talk to God…sometimes, I even listen to Him.  The listening days are better than the talking days.

Next comes Quiet Time, with a capital Q and a capital T.  I pray, read, write and organize my day.  I can’t do this the night before, nor can I just tuck it into the day at a later point.  While preparing for this event, my company is growing at a crazy rate, and all that has to be managed, as if it was the only thing in the world to worry about.  Skip the quiet time, and I am a mess.

Somewhere in the 7:00 window, I wake my son up and cook his breakfast.  He always gets a hot meal before school that is loaded with protein and good fats.  He walks out the door with a full stomach.  This accomplishment is often overlooked in modern culture.  Yes, accomplishment is the right word.

Let’s expand the mind map.  Over the next ten hours, any of the following events can and do happen as I try to be president and athlete.

As president of a technology company and world class athlete, Jeff Gaura breaks down what he has to mix
Incomplete list of items that I must mix together.

At some point during many if not most days, I turn to the other folks in the “office” and tell them that I going to do my “other job” now.  I either go for a paced/structured run or jump on my bike for a tempo ride in the community.  I come back and usually am covered in sweat.  I normally sit down at my computer right away to check messaging and sort out how I will use the remainder of my day once I cool down and shower.  More than one critical post-workout business phone call has ended with, “I need to get out of these bike shorts and clean up.  Then, I will look at the yadayada.  Will that work?”

What choice does the other party really have?  Could they say, “No, keep those nasty clothes on and review the terms and conditions right now!  There is a lot of money on the line?”  Sure, they could take that approach, but most folks are courteous enough to wait till I am 100% back in my day job role before engaging me.

Insert some caffeine in there before I start reading again.  No caffeine = no leader.  Wish it wasn’t true.

Our family usually succeeds in preparing and eating the evening meal together, and that is followed by regular people things as well as 25 minutes of physical therapy/stretching/strength and conditioning via stretch bands and balancing disks.

There are anecdotal stories about nearly everything on both sides of the mind map that are belly laughs waiting to be told.  Hopping around the house doing monster walks while my wife and son are trying to watch TV or do homework has led to comments like, “that looks weird,” to “do you have to do that right now?” snippets.

Sure, the training for the competition is great and unique, but the most valuable thing that comes from the effort is the embrace that the supporting activities are just as important, if not more so, than the final event.  The supporting cast at my company makes all this possible.  If it wasn’t for their skills at managing the day to day activities, there would be no way that I could possibly consider it possible to prepare for this event, in earnest, without fear of professional consequence.  Without my wife’s support, eating healthy food, consistently, would be another part time job to insert into the world, above.

I hypothesize that in retrospect, when I am old and on a rocking chair, I will consider this period of time one of the most evolutionary periods of my family’s life.  My wife and I are both already better off for making the changes necessary for me to compete at this level, and our long term health outlooks are more than promising.

This week, I celebrate my one year anniversary for starting Yoga.  Who would have ever guessed?

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