Work gets in the way of workouts for me. A lot.I can have the best of intentions, a gym bag packed with everything I need, and time blocked off in my calendar for a workout. And yet, there I am, sitting at my desk working. I close the calendar reminder and tell myself I'll break away in five more minutes, when I reach a stopping point. But the fact is, I'm working on five projects and reaching a stopping point in just one may not provide a good opportunity to stand up and head out the door.
More frequently, I actually have time to hit the trail or the road or the pool, but I check my inbox one more time as I stand up to leave, and some "crisis" presents itself. There's no convincing myself that I would not have been able to deal with it for an hour if I had walked out 30 seconds before the email arrived. It just doesn't matter, because I've seen the problem and now I need to solve it. And pleasing the client is just MORE IMPORTANT than running five miles.Right?Over the weekend I was chatting with a friend and she was telling me about someone she knows who is encouraged to exercise and go to personal training sessions during work hours. She is paid for a few hours per week of fitness time. As someone who has employees, I can see the wisdom in encouraging fitness and wellness among staff. It just makes sense.As soon as I had that thought, it occurred to me that I don't value fitness in the same way for myself. Instead of recognizing that my fitness level is saving me money on health insurance, life insurance and out-of-pocket medical expenses, I feel that I'm being selfish to abandon business and go gallivanting around on a long run in the middle of a weekday.This is ridiculous. When I'm fit, I am more effective and a less costly employee. When I've exercised, I'm less apt to be crabby or impatient with clients. And long-term, I'll be able to continue building and tending to my business for decades with a strong heart and body.So I'm giving serious thought to paying myself to work out, as a method of forcing myself to see the financial and practical value of making time for exercise and triathlon training. Just as people "pay themselves first" and designate funds for savings before paying the bills, I am considering keeping myself on the clock for workouts. Since I run the company, there is no financial advantage or disadvantage ... I'll end up taking home whatever money the company manages to make, long swim or no long swim. But psychologically, I think there may be something worthwhile in this idea.If you work for someone else, you can still adopt the mindset, and even transfer your usual hourly wage from your checking account into a special fund, or pay yourself a different wage as if you were running your own business on the side, and imagine the point of your startup company is to ensure you complete your workouts.
So if you are the type who can't seem to avoid checking your email before heading out for that early morning workout, and then decide not to go to the gym after all, remember you're missing out on a paycheck when you do it. It might be a real paycheck if you can engineer it. Or it might be a mental paycheck -- one you'll cash in when you are older but still spry and healthy.Either way, consider that triathlon is not a self-centered pursuit in the category of "Me-Time," but an investment in your life, your livelihood and your future health care dollars. Besides, paying yourself to work out is still cheaper than disability insurance. Just be careful riding in traffic.
Editor at Beginner Triathlete, web marketing consultant at SiteInSight, writer, entrepreneur, advocate for unstructured nature play for kids.