Welsh international Kris Jones tried out the full time athlete lifestyle at altitude in Albuquerque and it got him thinking. Is the grass always greener on the full time side?

I’m sure I’m not the only runner who occasionally dreams of being a full time athlete; when my alarm goes off in the morning, when I’m sat in a traffic ridden commute, or when I scroll past another Instagram photo of a runner in an exotic destination.

So when the opportunity arose to go to Albuquerque for a training camp supported by Welsh Athletics, I jumped at the chance. Three weeks of thin air, like minded company and the opportunity to focus 100% of my energies on training. Would I even want to come home?

Just the right time

I’d have loved to have started the camp in really great fitness, use the time to try to push my fitness to another level, but that wasn’t quite where I was at. Whilst I was still managing my Achilles, the camp arrived at just the right time; I’d built up both my mileage and faster running to a level which, whilst not quite where I wanted to be, gave me confidence that I’d be able to make the most of the trip.

Time was mainly spent training and relaxing after training; a nice life if you can manage it. Running felt hard at first, the altitude making even easy runs difficult, but after a few days, and one monster run up a mountain, everything started to feel more normal. My heart rate remained higher than I’d have expected the whole time I was out there so I can see how it helps you build fitness but I’m also sure that the focus gained from building your day around your training was huge.

I not only gained fitness over the three weeks but I came home relaxed and with a bucket load of motivation.

I’ll probably still have the same dreams of being a full time athlete, who wouldn’t love to spend their life doing something they love doing? But, I don’t think I’m missing out too much.

Photo: Kris Jones

Living the dream?

Sure, it was nice to sleep until I wanted, to spend spare hours relaxing and recovering and, more generally, to be able to fit my life around my training, instead of the other way around. Would these things make a difference in the long term? Maybe.

Maybe that extra time would see me take better care of myself and reduce the likelihood of a niggle developing into something more serious. Maybe the extra recovery would see me add that extra session I never have time for, or the stretching and strengthening I too often neglect. However, I also believe that consistently doing the basics gets you most of the way there.

If something is worth doing, it is worth finding the time for so, rather than dream of greener grass, it’s probably better to consider how I can introduce the full time outlook into my day to day.

Instead of an extra training session, can I make better use of the training time I already have? Instead of a lie in or an afternoon nap, can I go to bed a bit earlier? Instead of collapsing on the sofa at the end of the day, can I find a spare twenty minutes to do that stretching and rehab? Being honest with myself, time is rarely the limiting factor.

Photo: Kris Jones

Happy with life as it is

Fitting training around a full time job requires sacrifice but I’m happy with that. Whatever your circumstances, training requires sacrifice. A three week training camp gave me a glimpse of what it might be to be full time but provided me little experiences of the sacrifices required to make it a long term option.

At the end of the camp I was happy enough to return to the security and routine of the nine-to-five routine; armed with a bit of extra fitness and experience.

Kris Jones features in the ‘Fast 10: class of 2019’ and over the course of the year will share his running journey. You can follow Kris on Instagram and Twitter, while further information about the ‘class of 2019’ can be found here.

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