I've always known training helps my physical and mental well-being. I've seen myself transform into a more confident and dedicated person over the last few years that I've taken up running. I've seen myself become an athlete when I never thought that word would ever apply to me. But I never realized the impact my training was having on an entirely separate part of my life: my work.
Because the regular structure of my workday has been tossed out the window like it has for so many in recent weeks, having order in any capacity is something I've welcomed. However, just as the boundaries between work and home loosened more and more with each week, I found myself slipping out of a routine. It wasn't until a few weeks ago when I began a fairly intense training program that consisted of running, strength training, and yoga that I found my "order" again.
When the marathon I had been working toward was abruptly postponed, I had to reframe my entire year of training fairly quickly. It's with this reenergized and refocused training schedule that my work life also got a big boost. I started to notice my mood throughout the day was improving, my daily work was feeling more inspired, and the order I felt like I was lacking throughout the day suddenly reappeared. Although the impact my physical fitness routine has had on my daily productivity was something I didn't expect, it's something I'm incredibly grateful for now. Take a peek at the four ways sticking to a daily fitness schedule has helped me become a better worker.
It Lets My Organized Side Shine
Planning for a marathon requires a little more foresight than just showing up on race day. There's planning out months' worth of running, balancing social engagements to allow for cross training, and doing so all while working and living life as normal each day as you can. Starting up my training plan when I hadn't expected to has caused me to reevaluate my life for the next few months and put on my "prioritizing" hat once again. Because I've become accustomed to sticking to schedules and weekly deadlines for training, I've taken that same dedication and motivation and let it trickle into my work mindset. I've found myself thinking months out for projects and setting work goals for myself each week similar to how I would while prepping for a race.
It Energizes Me
Exercising releases endorphins; endorphins make people happy — this isn't a secret or new formula. But because I'm spending a lot of my free time — especially before work — training and releasing endorphins, by the time I'm ready to take my first morning call or dive into my email, I'm fully awake and energized. In fact, I'm eager to get going. The normal Monday morning blues don't quite hit the same when I've already been up for an hour and checked something major off my to-do list. I'm not saying I'm chipper 24/7 because I work out, but knowing that an activity I enjoy just might be what sets up my workday to be a little brighter has gone a long way for me, especially during these times.
It Also Exhausts Me
But just as energized as training makes me in the a.m., it also exhausts me come nighttime. If I'm up bright and early with my run-ready gear like the UA Fly-By 2.0 Shorts ($25), by the end of the day, I'm spent. I'm ready to sign off the computer and relax for the evening. This hasn't always been the case for me. I'm one of those people who stays on the computer after regular work hours and doesn't always allow myself that work-life balance. Especially now that my home is my office, I can fall prey to this bad habit easily. But now that I'm training regularly again, I have a calendar holding me accountable to these boundaries. I either need to put work to rest for the day because I need to go on a run, or I need to sign off so I can prepare a good meal and let my body heal.
It Makes Me More Creative
A lot of my best story ideas come while I'm on a run. It took a while to get here, but training is my time when I let down all my guards. I let my mind fully press pause for a minute — something I rarely do as a New Yorker. But running has become that time for me to process my current emotions or mental state. And with that moment of reflection, I've found that I'm actually able to let my creative juices flow freely. During a run, I take in my surroundings, I observe things from a different view, I play the "what if" game. When my only thought is on keeping my body moving, my mind takes charge and the wheels get to turning. Not only am I able to refocus and help my writer mind get out of any ruts, but I'm also able to have a moment of truly uninterrupted time just to think.