I can't stress enough the concept of how crucial it is for an aviator to be fit. I really can't!
Today’s idea is to give some tips for all of us aviators working high in the sky and those of you student pilots under the most stressful part of your training: the "Fabulous 14" and you feel like you’re missing out on exercising. That was my case last year and I felt happy with the results. An active body helped with a clear mind.
I am very passionate about this, so this will be a treat for you guys. I learned how to love how I feel when I train, especially before working.
My case was special last summer. Hopefully it will help you.
My flight training was roaring with a ground school commitment of 700 hours of attendance in class during 9 months for the ATPL Theoretical Exams plus the time building flying hours (-sweet!); my Company wanted me to grip on the holiday season flying 80 hours a month as a cabin crew and...
...well, I couldn't help not to exercise outdoors being this vital part of my stress relief auto-therapy.
Lucky as I am living in Costa Brava, in the northern part of Spain and Catalunya, I took advantage of the fair weather and decided to prepare an Olympic Triathlon. Why that? Because it is the most enjoyable and complete outdoor cardio training I could imagine. It's a race against time in which you have to swim (1,5 km), bike (36 km) and run (10km). But this pertains to my personal taste and can be any other challenge you decide to take.
---SPOILER: I made it.---
Guess what? You can make it too.
If you want to get something out of this experience of mine, this is how in 3 key words:
The main concept is to be very committed in measuring your progress and stick on the plan. I find it surprisingly easier when I have a tight schedule so I don't get drifted out in distractions from the goal as time available is just enough. My free time was reduced, I knew it, but it was a fair shake.
1 - COMMIT (this is the word of the day)
To me it meant practically registering for the race as soon as possible.
In March, I chose the Skoda Olympic Triathlon, GAVA Edition 2016 held in Gava, close to Barcelona, at the end of summer. I paid for it. Now, that's for good because now you’re tied to that particular goal: you don't want to waste money, do you? I don't, and that's a plus in terms of motivation. This way you have a deadline to look forward to, which relates to the second key word.
2 - PLAN
Make sure you are off that day (obviously) and the day after possibly, as you need to rest. To get there, provide yourself a training plan and roster that allows you to make an agenda of training knowing well in advance when you will be working. For me it was a struggle. Flight school classes and rigid working schedules were reluctant to cooperate in my intent. But eventually I could fit my training sessions in, mainly before working or before class.
3 - MEASURE
For this you need technology and some gadgets. At first I used the Runtastic App with the Premium account. It was the first time I paid for an App and I enjoyed it a lot. I could accurately measure my progression. It was the case of a specific plan that you can buy for 9 euros that guided me straight to my pursuit of half marathon in 1h40m. This was more than I needed, however, in case of skipping training days I wanted to allow a safety margin.
Before my flight or my class I went for a run, guided by my phone. I was happy because I had a guide to hold pace and time intervals. As well as this, I bought a second hand Garmin Fenix 2 Watch, and that was another breakthrough as I started to measure my swimming and my bike sessions the same way. You know what? After a while, say 3 months, I could start to feel proud of the kilometres I was summing up and the body fat I was shredding. I went down to 9.7%. I started with 16%. I ran 832 km in 10 months.
Eventually comes the day and it goes well, as my plan worked properly. It was great to experience the sensation of building something from the foundation up.
That was great. You will see: it's so nice to go to work or to class after a good satisfying training session -each day leading you a step forward to your race. In the airplane you are focused and toned, less tired or stressed, more vigilant and healthily hungry. I can't figure a healthier way to go to fly.