It's Not All About the Dollars Three Different Approaches to Incorporating Wellness Into Your Daily Life, 1119 SCBJ, SC Lawyer, November 2019, #54

AuthorBy Jeff Ross, Shanna Stephens and Erin Dean
PositionVol. 31 Issue 3 Pg. 54

It's Not All About the Dollars Three Different Approaches to Incorporating Wellness Into Your Daily Life

Vol. 31 Issue 3 Pg. 54

South Carolina BAR Journal

November, 2019

By Jeff Ross, Shanna Stephens and Erin Dean

"What are you up to this weekend?"

"I'm going to a spin class and an early morning turtle patrol." "I'm going to run a marathon." "I'm going to sit on the floor and think about nothing."

This conversation was the impetus for this article. After reading it, we are confident you can identify who said what as you explore our different approaches to achieving a life-work balance in the challenging "lawyering" world we live in!

Lawyers, according to them, are some of the busiest people in the world. I know, I am one. Like my co-authors, I practice primarily in insurance defense and have been doing so for 15 years. Over that time, our rules have changed such that we are now required to mediate everything before we can go to trial. There is a saying about mediations. They are like an inert gas: they will expand to fill the time that you allot them. Curiously, practicing law is the same way. As lawyers, we all know that sometimes taking time to spend with family or friends or other leisurely activities can be very difficult, even though, in theory, these are things we like to do. How then do we make time to exercise when oftentimes it can be viewed as a chore or something that we don't necessarily like to do? I will not go into the benefits of physical exercise here. We all know the benefits of it both physically and mentally. There are thousands and likely millions of articles written about this subject and moving forward I'm going to assume you know the benefits. The issue for many people seems to be that their career and their family has expanded to fill all the time in the day and there's no time left for exercise. If viewed as a chore, it will always get pushed to the bottom of the stack. There will never be time for it. Therefore, we have to reevaluate our position on exercise if we realistically expect to routinely make it part of our daily schedule.

I tried gym, work, sleep repeat, but couldn't make that work. Likewise, I tried run, work, sleep, repeat, or sleep, work, run, repeat or any combination of the above, but doing the same thing every day didn't work for me. It felt like I was just going through the motions and couldn't find a target to shoot for that kept me interested. I kept switching and trying new things until I found something that worked. A few years back I started doing triathlons. A triathlon is a race that starts with an open water swim, followed immediately by a bike ride, and then a run. It is one event that consists of three sports. The timer starts when you enter the water and stops when you cross the finish line after the run.

There are some slight variations of this general theme, but there are basically four different types of triathlons and the difference between them boils down to the length of the race in miles. The shortest triathlon is called a sprint triathlon followed next by an Olympic triathlon, a half iron distance triathlon, and finally the longest being a full iron distance triathlon. The latter two are often commonly referred to as a half Ironman, or Ironman 70.3 and a Full Ironman[1] or Ironman 140.6. The numbers reflect the distance of the race in miles. Roughly speaking, each of the four types of races is twice the length of the one before it. So, roughly speaking, a sprint triathlon is a 600-700-meter swim, a 12-mile bike ride, followed by a 5k run. A full Ironman™ is a 2.4-mile ocean swim, a 112-mile bike ride, followed by a full marathon-a 26.2-mile run.

Yikes! First, let's clear the air. The people that participate in the triathlons, even the full iron distance races are not all super athletes. In fact, only a very small percentage of participants are professionals. By way of illustration, there was a Half Ironman™ on May 11, 2019, in Panama City. There were 1,908 athletes, but only 37 were pros. Of the 37 pros that entered the race, 13 did not finish[2]. Likewise, about six months earlier, on October 14, 2018 there was a Full Ironman 140.6 in Louisville, Kentucky with 3,090 participants. There were only 51 pros. Only 23 of them finished[3]. The rest of the athletes are just people, male and female, ages 18-80 plus, and they come in all shapes and sizes. The races are held all over the world, and because of this, I am using them as excuses or justifications to travel.

The first triathlon I ever did was a sprint triathlon held at the James Island County Park in Charleston, South Carolina. I knew that I could do any of the events on their own but putting them all together back-to-back seemed interesting. Honestly, I didn't have a lot of doubt about finishing, but my lack of attention to my fitness level for a number of years was a bit eye opening as I slowly finished the run. After a couple of more sprints, it was time to tackle an Olympic, which I did and after that I decided to try a half Ironman™. For the first time, I had some doubts about being able to complete the race. Haines City, Florida is the race I chose. Frankly, it was not a good choice for a first half iron distance race. It was brutally hot, and unbeknownst to me, the run course was exceptionally hilly. Yes, Florida and hilly. A couple of the hills were steep enough that I didn't have the strength to run them. While I didn't have the will to run them either, the decision to walk them was the right one, because I struggled to complete that course and using any additional energy to run those hills likely would not have left enough to finish the race. I did a couple more half iron distance races that year, which became progressively easier, setting the stage for my first full Ironman™ 140.6 in Cambridge, Maryland.

I came out of the water from the 2.4-mile ocean swim in the time I expected, changed clothes and got on the bike for 112 miles, the whole time hoping that I didn't have an equipment malfunction -flat tire, broken chain, etc. I finished the bike grinning ear-to-ear because I knew I had enough time that if I had to, I could walk the marathon and finish the race. The run course was arranged such that you passed the finish line six times before you were able to run down the shoot to the finish line. My initial reaction to the multi-looped run was negative, but on race day, I loved it. Each time you ran by the finish line you could hear the race official announcing the finishers. The motivational factor of hearing each racer's name as he or she crossed the finish line was unbelievable, "John Smith, you ARE an Ironman!", "Jane Doe, you ARE an Ironman!" Several hours later, "Jeff Ross, you ARE an Ironman!" The sense of accomplishment crossing the finish line is like nothing in the world. No words can describe it.

Starting at the Haines City 70.3, the satisfaction of finishing the race became a real motivator to make time to work out. Finishing an Ironman is a real, tangible, sense of accomplishment that can only be realized if you prepare for it. The beauty of preparing for a three-sport race, is if one day, you don't feel like running, you can...

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT