The key to fitness? Schedule it in
(CNN) -- My head is still spinning from excitement and disbelief at being chosen for what I know is going to be a life-changing adventure.
Just five weeks ago, I found myself in Atlanta for the Fit Nation Triathlon Challenge kickoff weekend. As the weekend progressed, I tried to remember every piece of advice we received from the trainers and everyone at CNN.
Thankfully, the opportunity to spend some time with Fit Nation alumni was part of the plan. They shared with us the wisdom of their own experiences.
One bit of advice that I have clung to daily is, "Schedule, schedule, schedule!"
I have always overextended myself. There are a lot of things that I like to do, and even more that I want to do. I also have a hard time saying "no."
After decades of raising three kids and taking care of other family members, my husband and I have found ourselves in a place we have never been before: one with free weekends.
We are now able to go fishing, boating and camping, attend concerts, visit kids and grandkids, go to movies, go shopping, walk the dogs. Maybe because it is still a novelty we try to fit all that into just a couple days a week.
There are a couple of obvious downsides to living this way. The first is that my plate generally isn't just full -- it's spilling over. Secondly, when I spread myself too thin, the end result is never the quality it would have been if I'd devoted my full time and energy.
Now, in addition to everything else that I am committed to, I have to fit training for a triathlon into my life. The only way I will be successful is if I take seriously the advice to schedule.
The late and great Dr. Steven Covey once said, "To become a master of your time, you need to first be aware of your priorities in the larger context of your life."
Scheduling is not a novel idea or rocket science, but sometimes I just need to hear the right message at the right time in order for it to click in a meaningful way.
Once I looked at the big picture from this perspective, life got a lot less complicated. From the very moment I found out I had this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, I committed to taking full advantage of it, giving it my all.
Thankfully for me our coach, April Burkey, is giving us a huge head start. Each week, she puts our daily workouts on a calendar on the TrainingPeaks website. The time of day we do them is up to us, and we can even rearrange the days if need be. At the beginning of every week, I compare my work schedule with my training schedule.
On a day that I need to go to the correctional facility where I work for the 5:45 a.m. roll call, an evening strength training workout makes the most sense. On a normal 8-to-5 day, I can easily fit in a 5:15 a.m. spinning class or a morning run.
The pool I swim in does not open until 6 a.m. and is not available in the evenings or weekends. So far this has been the biggest scheduling challenge. But I haven't missed a workout yet, thanks to Presidents' Day and a bit of flexibility in my schedule.
Once I see the workout on my calendar, it is not something I should do, or even have to do. I can honestly say that I look at it as something that is a priority for me so that I can accomplish my long-term goal of finishing the Nautica Malibu Triathlon on September 8!
That doesn't mean that I bounce out of bed at 4 a.m. on the days that I go to the local YMCA for the spinning class, that I haven't wanted to stay in bed on a cold, snowy morning instead of heading across town to do swim drills.
What it does mean is that these types of thoughts are fleeting, and that picturing myself crossing the finish line has helped me to get up, get ready and get started.
Last weekend I did something I still can't believe: I actually ran a 5K. And I owe it all to scheduling! I also owe it to the encouragement and support of my co-warden, Angel Medina, and the support of my running partner for the day -- my youngest daughter, Lacee.
When I shared my news about being on the Fit Nation team with Angel, he immediately told me about a local 5K. I didn't say it out loud, but my inside voice was telling me that I would not be ready to run 3.2 miles by March 5.
To be perfectly honest, I was counting on Coach April to agree with me when I told her about the race. Yet a couple of weeks later, that 5K was my scheduled training for the day.
Like I said earlier, once it's on my calendar...
I set two goals for the race. The first was to finish, and the second was to run for the entire distance. The reason I knew these goals were both attainable is that I had already accomplished them in my scheduled training runs in the weeks before.
All I can say is, "Wow!" I can't wait to see what I can accomplish during the next six months of prioritizing and scheduling!
Follow Rae on Twitter @TriHardRae