Saturday, January 22, 2011

The German model to Work-Life Balance

I had my three-month “review” this week. I think it went company wants to keep me employed, which is an exciting feeling. My official title can be struggling Jr. Engineer turned less-struggling Jr. Engineer with benefits! Just awesome, every little bit helps. I was surviving the last three months grasping the reality of no more student perks and tag team along those super expensive real-world prices. What a roller coaster ride from only four months back.

Now that my work life is a little more secured, I can focus on my new work-life balance philosophy. I will blog on it. About training with a new approach.

I just read Eddy’s blog and appreciate that we share many of the same real-world experiences in regards to training (and he’s only been working a few weeks into an intern job!). ;)

I’ve also noticed a shift from my previous training. Not only are my numbers in training significantly down during this time of the year, but my pace times are slower and my heart rates are in the low 190s whereas the same time last year was more in the 170s. I can blame the constant supplies of ice cream and doughnuts in the office it seems...

Okay, enough with the excuses. I did came across this interesting article from The Globe and Mail that was published in early November last year as part of a week series on work-life balance, titled “Part 4 Harder worker? No life? Just act more like the Germans.” I sit here reading it on a late Friday evening, at both curious and open to new ideas.


Anyway, here are some key findings:

On the work-life balance dilemma:

“Work matters, Prof. Hurka says, much more than its life-loving critics care to acknowledge. “If you ask what are the things that make life worthwhile, one of them is pleasure, satisfaction, feeling good. But another one is achievement. If you have work that is challenging and calls on your abilities, and then you succeed at it, that’s worthwhile in itself. So it’s a mistake to talk about work versus your life – work is a valuable element in your life.””

The article covers itself by limiting this statement true for only the good kind of work that requires you to challenge yourself:

“... Bad work is more problematic for the way it degrades life, and no one should have to submit to cruel bosses, unhealthy conditions or the assembly-line mindlessness critiqued by Charlie Chaplin in Modern Times.”

One approach to rectifying the problem during a long day:

“It’s not our employer’s job to find work-life balance for us, it’s our job – we have to carve out moments of self-nourishment in an incredibly busy day. These can be tiny things: Instead of sitting at a desk, glued to the computer, eating yogurt, force yourself to get out, go for a walk or to a gallery, if only for 45 minutes.”

Shall defenitely try to make it a priority to not miss my workouts after work.

On the German model:

“...Notoriously productive and efficient, Germans nonetheless spend many fewer hours in the workplace than do North Americans...”

“...[Germans] accept the collective understanding that the workplace is designed for actual work. They don’t share our compulsion to drag out the day with the distractions many Canadians consider the redeeming side of office servitude: chattering with cubicle mates, surfing the Web, moaning about how late we get home to the kids after a hard day’s labour.”

I concur with the German model approach. I guess the model starts with investing less with more. I can champion the task at hand and work harder to get it done efficiently. Similarly every workout and every week should have a meaningful gradual progress to peak for that key race, whether a build/speed/tapering week or intervals/recovery/tempo workout, all should be taken into consideration.

Bottom line, it’s efficiency on both accounts:

“In life, as on the job, hard work can be a pleasure – if only we’d start admitting it.”

Now when I train, just gotta put the German model to work. =)

Monday, January 10, 2011

Moving can be a moving experience.

 Happy new year!

It sure has been hectic these couple of weeks and what a relief to finally settle into our new place to ring in the New Year. Engineering our way for 100+ boxes of stuff and more ridiculous amounts of furniture to reasonably mingle together into a tight space was no trivial feat by any means; it was amusing to witness (one of us even cleverly Google Sketchup the arrangement).

I wasn't kidding, it totally did freaked out our new landlords!  

Another tight squeeze was along the beltline and you could definitely call me a FATTY now, since I have managed to gain up to 10 extra pounds over the Christmas break. Blame it on daily Chinese restaurant holiday family dinners as the culprit...or oh right... must be because of the extra heavy lifting and bulking up of course. Somehow Costco cheesecakes were even smuggled into the mix as desserts for a couple of those occasions! On the record, I had six during one of those sittings; it was utter devastation!

Since I’ve been keeping a training log for the past few years, this December has been the coldest of cold turkey month of training. Wait for it, wait for it...a whopping 5.5 hours of combined swim, bike, and run time!

Yep, indisputably that’s no ironman training, 2011 will definitely have to pick up the slack. But yes, 2010 will always be forever remembered as a special year to me: graduated from school for realz this time, volunteered for the Olympics in my own backyard, achieved many milestones trainingwise, found a job and moved to cap it all off. It’s time to move on and I am ready for new goals!! 2011 should be an exciting year!

Some key 2011 Training Goals:

  • Sub 38 min 10K 
  • Sub 4 hr 50 min Half-iron
  • Sub 10 hr 30 min Ironman!
  • Register for BOSTON!!!

Bummer now I can't disappoint, since it’s all on public record. =)