The WEF Marathon: How to Balance Academics, Fitness, and Riding
One of the most frequently asked questions I have received lately is how I balance academics, fitness, riding and social life while competing weekly at the WEF (the Winter Equestrian Festival). To put it bluntly, it’s not always sunshine and rainbows. Balancing this type of schedule is hard and there is a lot of giving and taking with the time and quality I can dedicate to each part of my life. But one thing is for sure, I always try to get things done by prioritizing what is necessary to dedicate time and quality energy to and pushing aside what can be done later or dedicating less focused time to it. During WEF this can be especially difficult because of the back-to-back show weeks. It is especially difficult this year since I am flying back and forth from New Jersey to Florida in order to keep up with classes and maintain the classroom environment. I admit, there are many times that I would rather be watching Netflix than studying for a test on the evening flights headed home. Planning out when to dedicate time to academics is crucial because it does allow for those flights when I’m so tired I just need watch a movie or the ideal situation of actually being able to fall asleep.
Competing at WEF this year (as my second year ever) really gave me perspective on the necessity of organization and dedication to working because traveling back and forth weekly is far more difficult than staying down in Florida and doing academic work with a tutoring program. However, I have found my motivation to get work done and doing it well is heightened by my weekly competition aspirations. My school has been very accommodating with my ever-changing schedule. They have allowed me to bring the exams with me to Florida and take them with a person proctoring each exam. That way when I do attend school, (Monday through Wednesday/Thursday) I am able to mostly focus on attending classes and catching up on missed material if I was not able to front-load the work. In preparation of exams in any subject, I like to create a study guide of my compiled notes 3-5 days before the exam to use as my central source of information. Writing down the notes and creating diagrams and color-coding are all really key study styles that work well for me. I avoid making flashcards for anything except vocabulary terms because I find memorizing the information doesn’t help me understand the concepts in depth.
In terms of fitness, it has been a little more difficult to maintain my regular fitness regimen because of time I can dedicate to it and the energy deficit I experience from travel. The usual weekly fitness regimen goes like this for me:
Mondays, after school I have a weekly (or every two weeks) Chiropractic appointment and a light to medium fitness workout at my home-gym or at my local gym depending on how tired I feel from the weekend of competing. My workouts are overall full-body and I work extra on core workouts because I find they are so important for my riding. The TFE Core Strength Program has proved so beneficial for me! As for the rest of the week I usually alternate between medium to hard workouts which include varying cardio from running and the elliptical and various body workouts from machines, free weights, and simple (but deceivingly difficult) mat workouts! I love the TFE Programs because they all vary between mat workouts and machine workouts so I can really utilize my gym at home and my local gym far more than I ever imagined! I think cardio workouts are also vital to keep up the stamina required for riding. Each cardio workout for me varies usually between 30-60 minutes. In the summer when I am in full running shape I sometimes go on long runs that can last over an hour, but since I lightened my running load a little more in late fall/early winter I am still getting back into my full running shape.
I also find that although cardio is important, I try not to use it as my central type of workout because balance and strength are critical to maintain a correct position and have effective techniques. I like to do a lot of pilates type workouts with my mat or if I am able to, I love the reformer and TRX training. The most important thing to keep in mind during any workout program is listening to your body!! I used to be hard on myself for skipping a workout day, but now I don’t because I know that every decision I make considers the needs of my body. Usually taking a day off helps me come back the next day even stronger! Always consider the reasons you are actually working out. Are you doing it to benefit yourself?
One of the most difficult things to balance, for me at least, was learning how to eat intuitively. What do I mean by that? I mean I don’t restrict myself on specific diets, but I do focus on the foods that benefit my body most. I also think about how much I eat, but avoid calorie counting. Check out my most recent article for my healthy eating habit tips and fun recipes I like to make at home that are simple, easy and healthy HERE!
There is no simple key to balancing everything, everyone’s lives are filled with a variety of factors. However, three things that hold true to any lifestyle is 1) organize and plan out each day 2) prioritize what needs to get done immediately 3) listen to your body.
I hope you have enjoyed reading this TFE Ambassador Blog! Make sure to check out more of my blogs at marthawyattluth.weebly.com.
Junior jumper and equitation rider from New Jersey