It all started as a gloomy Whatsapp conversation with my best mate at the start of 2017. (You know how it goes – a few emojis/memes down we started getting into the nitty gritty: what does 2017 hold…) We both recognised we’d got into a bit of a work/life balance rut, not really sticking to any kind of exercise plan and just feeling a bit pants. Not into diets or giving up booze, she suggested doing something different. I was all up for a city break with copious wine to ponder this some more but she had a plan up her sleeve: TRIATHLON. Lots of emojis/memes later the deal was done. The only problem was, it answered all my moaning objectives, so there was no way I could say no:
- Something to aim for
- Something you can train for on your own, so you can’t blame anyone else but it’s fun to train together when you can
- Three disciplines you’re particularly bad at, so the only way is up…
There were really no excuses – Blenheim Triathlon, renowned for attracting first-timers was on my doorstep so we decided to go for a shorter, beginner distance so we didn’t put too much pressure on the Brownlee brothers.
So the story began – there’s so much to say here I thought I’d categorise them into the classic ups and downs.
I hadn’t been to a leisure centre since primary school (only swimming in pools on holiday), which meant many a lane swimming fiasco
- Lost my key in the deep end
- Slapped face getting swimming cap on
- General mid-swim panic attacks as I realised in a lake you can’t touch the sides (funny when these thoughts come to you as your front crawl becomes increasingly like a shark attack?!)
Amongst those were saddle sores, doing your first brick training (bike to run) and trying on the most flattering item known to activewear: the Tri-suit.
- Finding the joy in lido swimming! Particular highlights included London Fields and Hyde Park training sessions. I also hit up the infamous Chipping Norton lido.
- How encouraging the triathlon community are, and being inspired by new heroes like Eddie Brocklesby.
Race day came and I was genuinely overwhelmed by how welcoming and encouraging the triathlon community are. They helped us every step of the way – never once making us feel intimidated or out of place, even though the majority of people probably did our distance as a regular training session! The crowd are so supportive, even little kids cheering and fist-pumping as you go past – there’s nothing like it.
There was also the inter-race banter. One of my favourite moments was when we were treading water in the lake at the start, there was a delay to the klaxon and someone shouted ‘Live to tri? Trying to live here!’ (#trijokes #hadtobethere). It massively broke the pre-race nerves – which made up for the fact that I nearly drowned laughing…
I’ve always been an advocate of (trying) to achieve a healthy work life balance and I’m not alone – a recent YouGov survey revealed that one in five (21%) 25-34 year olds are unhappy with their work/life balance, compared to around one in six 18-24 year-olds (15%), 35-44 year-olds (14%) and 45-54 year-olds (17%). The study finds that just one in 10 (11%) over-55s are dissatisfied with their work-life balance. Increasingly we know it’s not necessarily just for the physical benefits but also for managing our mental health – minimising stress and anxiety is just the tip of the iceberg. (Also, a flat refusal from me to give up cake and prosecco = needs must.)
2017 is a key year for mark-making, we’ve got lots going on so wellbeing is fast becoming a focus to keep a happy, healthy team. We’re very lucky that we are always encouraged to have a healthy work/life balance. We already have regular lunchtime runners, swimmers, walkers, along with various members of the team completing marathons, triathlons, ironmans, Tough Mudders, cycle rides but we are conscious that wellbeing doesn’t just need to be about exercise and are keen to build on this.
It can be as simple as having a short meeting whilst going for a walk, adapting our snacks to encourage some healthier options and just generally taking care of each other so we can work to be as productive as possible. We’re also looking at plans to make the space work better for us – a few more showers, table tennis table. Watch this space.
Does anyone have any wellbeing initiatives they have implemented recently? We’d love to hear about them.
Written by Emily Wright