Finding time to train for marathons as a regional pilot is challenging at best. The schedule is hectic and unpredictable with flight delays a common occurrence due to unpredictable maintenance issues, weather conditions, and staffing snafus. Pilots have the ability to request work trips, commonly known as ‘bidding’, that suit individual lifestyle needs. However, mix in the previous uncontrollable factors and the assigned trips look much better on a printed schedule than when they are actually flown.
As I look at my schedule for the remainder of March and April, there are many days I have to commute into work from from Cleveland, Ohio or Managua, Nicaragua to Newark, New Jersey. Newark airport is where I start and finish my work trips. Crew members are allowed to live anywhere in the world with one catch – they must find their own ride to get to their assigned domicile.
Typical work days for a regional pilots average 14 hours based on a FAA algorithm set forth to ensure pilots get required sleep. That usually leaves 10 hours to hustle through the airport to the hotel shuttle, check in, eat, sleep, and hurry back to the airport to start another 14 hour work day. This does not leave much time to for recreational activities. For me that down time would include training for my Awareness Runs.
How do I find the time? The honest answer is – sometimes I don’t and a run will have to be substituted for a yoga session, run the hotel stairwell, or jump rope. My training calendar is amended on a weekly basis. Not all hotels have a wonderful trail nearby, are located in safe neighborhoods, or have pedestrian friendly streets. What about the treadmill? I rarely use the treadmill because of numerous calf injuries incurred previously while running long distances on them. I prefer running outside regardless of rain, snow, gusty winds, cold, and heat.
The one common denominator with runners – novice, recreational, professional – is the mental muscle we must build in order to overcome obstacles in our training regime. Nearly every training day is a struggle with environmental and physical limitations but mentally as well. Being a fairly new runner with high demand training is teaching me not only have to train my body but how to train my mind as well.