It's all about balance

It's all about balance.

Let's start this week's post off with a huge congratulations to teammate Carly Conrad. CONGRATULATIONS, Carly! She raced Ironman New Zealand last weekend, and finished in a blazing time of 10:37:12, coming in sixth in her incredibly competitive age group. We are so proud of all the hard work she put in for an tremendous race day! Learn more about Carly and her training in this post.

Speaking of training, don't miss our Sunday community run this week. The weather is going to be great. The people are always exceptional. And a bonus this week - an informative clinic afterward to help you understand what gear will give you the best bang for your triathlon buck. You'll learn about cassettes, chainrings, crank lengths, wheel options, tire choices and so much more. Oh, and did I mention free breakfast TACOS from the Texas Beef Council. Come for the tacos, and stay for the knowledge!! The run starts at 7 a.m., and the clinic is at 9:30 a.m. Meet us at Bicycle World at 300 N. Lamar.

Don't forget about our weekly workouts, too. The weather is warming up, and race days are approaching. So, come train with us and get the most out of your workouts!

While we're on the topic of workouts, isn't it a bummer when work interferes with your training schedule? Perhaps few people understand that predicament as well as Aaron Shapley, our BW teammate whose job has him on the road 80-110 nights a year, logging more than 120,000 airline miles. I asked Aaron to share some of the tips and strategies that help him to accomplish his training and racing goals while also balancing the needs of a demanding career and loving family.

Q: What are you currently training for?

A: This year, I'd like to do four or five 70.3 distance races. On the calendar so far are Ironman TX 70.3, Ironman Buffalo Springs 70.3 and Ironman Waco 70.3. I'll do as many of the local Austin races as I can, too, starting with the Rookie Tri in May. I’m also heading to Europe this summer and spending a week riding in the mountains of Northern Italy, including climbing Stelvio Pass, the highest paved mountain pass in the Eastern Alps.

Q: Tell us a little about your work.

A: I’ve been in the financial services industry for almost 20 years now. I work for a large investment manager who offers mutual funds for Main Street investors and solutions for organizations such as corporations and pension funds. I manage the relationships with some of our largest financial institution clients, such as insurance companies and other money managers in the U.S.

Q: How often do you have to travel for work?

A: Short answer is a lot, but it depends on the time of year, and what’s going on with clients. Over the course of the year, I typically spend 80-110 nights in hotels and fly 120,000+ miles. This will be my 11th year traveling at that level, and although most of my friends and family can’t comprehend that lifestyle, I usually don’t mind it and enjoy many of the places I get to visit.

Q: How do you make sure you get in all your training sessions when you're away from home?

A: It is a massive challenge, and bottom line is that I don’t. I do as much as I can and hit it hard when I’m at home and on weekends. But, working with a coach has been a game-changer for me. Having a plan and communicating what I can get in has helped me become more focused and avoid garbage sessions. I view the weekly plan as what I need to get in for the week, and often move things around and double up where I have to as my schedule changes. I’ve also tried to stop stressing about missing a session, as sometimes rest / sleep is more valuable. Often, the challenge isn’t time but what equipment I can access. I’d love to take my bike everywhere, but that just isn’t practical. Some hotels are getting better at upgrading their gear, which has been great. If I find one of those, I tend to stick to that hotel. But I definitely have to get creative at times.

Q: Packing for work and working out requires a lot of stuff. Do you have any handy packing secrets?

A: Priorities for me are efficiency and comfort, and I think I have it down to a science, rarely check a bag, or need to buy something I forgot. I bucket each trip into work, training and casual. I hate flying in a suit, so that goes in the suitcase too. I fold anything that can wrinkle in the plastic covers from the dry cleaner. But those plastic covers help segregate clothes when I’m heading home, because if I’ve gotten some good training in during the trip, that stuff needs to be quarantined. I also use the hotel's plastic laundry bags to stow sweaty workout gear. As I’ve learned more about fueling during training, I’ve started to bring some food, too. I’ll bring Gatorade Endurance and EBoost protein mixes with me to stick to my routine and fuel how I would at home. Though sometimes I worry TSA will question me about all the ziplock bags filled with powder in my luggage...

Q: With being gone for work so much and having a busy family, how do you balance training with career and family?

A: Work pays the bills (and supports this expensive hobby), so it has to be a priority. That means flexibility is important. My schedule is never consistent, so I have to take it week by week and adapt. Sometimes that means very early mornings or squeezing an hour in at lunch.

I’m also very, very lucky to have a supportive family. My wife and I both swam competitively through college. We’ve tried to instill an appreciation of healthy, active living in our kids, and we both understand the commitment needed for success. So getting training in is a given in my house, and we all support each other to make sure everyone gets in what they need. There’s definitely a priority system, though, and the kids trump everything. A baseball game or swim meet will always come first, but that doesn’t mean I take a rest day. I just move my training around. Same with my wife. She fully understands it’s hard for me to get key sessions in when I’m on the road, so she’ll take one for the team on weekends when I have to go big. Being on the trainer for four hours attracts some strange looks from my kids' friends who come and go, but it has become the norm for us. At the end of the day, we all just support each other’s goals and enjoy watching each other race, play and perform.

Q: What's your favorite on-the-road workout?

A: I have two favorites. First, interval workouts on the treadmill help me get the intensity level up in a reasonably short period of time, and I usually feel great afterward. The second is longer runs in some of the great spots I get to visit. Places like Central Park in New York or the beach in Santa Monica have the power to take my mind off the pain.

Q: What's your favorite workout when you're in Austin?

A: I love to get after it in the pool. I swam through college and never thought I’d say that. But I feel lucky to have found a group of athletes and coaches who push me to my limits. I was a sprint breaststroker in college, so I’m training for races now that last a little longer than a couple of minutes. I tend to like the distance sets more than most people do.