I am going to enter some bicycle races this year.
I’m learning, however, that training to race can require a massive, life-altering level of commitment. Specifically, it requires huge amounts of time, time that a person like me might not realistically ever have. Is it possible for a business owner/entrepreneur to also be a competitive athlete?
This training schedule (below) comes from The Cyclist’s Training Bible by Joe Friel, a very popular training guide for serious cyclists. I’ve highlighted the book’s suggested weekday “One Workout Daily” schedule (the “Two Workouts Daily” schedules are too preposterous to even consider):
When I saw this, my heart sank. This is a schedule for someone who (a) works exactly 9-5, (b) doesn’t have any commute at all, (c) goes to bed at 9:00pm, and (c) scarfs down dinner. And let’s not even get into the NAP in the middle of the day!
I don’t know anyone who works 9-5 in New York City or in the Web industry. Not a soul. Most work 9-6 or 10-7, and most have at least a 30-minute commute to deal with as well. Plus, as a business owner, I generally have to be at work early and stay late. Sometimes, when we are on a strict deadline, I work extremely late.
And when I get home, I like to spend as much time as possible with my wife: watching movies, making dinner, talking. I also like to spend time working on personal projects and reading. Being something of an insomniac, staying up late is almost unavoidable.
So here’s what a realistic schedule would look like for me, both for days on which I can ride on my indoor trainer and for days on which I am able to bike to work (I can’t bike to work if the weather is bad, if I have a lot of stuff to carry, or if I have an important meeting for which I need to be well-dressed and fresh-smelling!):
Going to bed at 1:00am isn’t that abnormal for me — sometimes I stay up far later. And during crunch periods at work, days with early morning meetings, and days on which I have personal conflicts, I can’t use this schedule at all. If I want to race, I need to face up to the fact that I am getting something like 1/3 of the sleep that the other racers are getting. When I get dusted by the Cat-5 peloton, I suppose that I will at least have that as consolation.
What do other business owners and entrepreneurs do to stay fit, assuming that they work a little bit longer and put a little bit more energy into their work than most employees do? Perhaps they don’t train for competition, choosing instead for “maintenance” level training? I’d like to learn more about this.
Ultimately, though, I am confident. There is something very positive that I have discovered over the last year of cycling somewhat seriously: That incorporating exercise into an already jam-packed daily schedule tends to have a energizing effect, making me stronger and fitter, and giving me a kind of mental focus during the normal work day. Perhaps as I get fitter and more committed to cycling, my workday will become so ruthlessly efficient that maybe I can approach something resembling the “normal” schedule. I look forward to seeing how this works out.