So a quick intro about me – my name’s Catherine and I spent 7 years in DCU. I did MInT as my undergrad, then I did a Masters in Marketing/Digital Marketing for 2 years while also working in the Business Schools Alumni office. Then, after my Masters I stayed on for another year to be the Marketing Group Teaching Assistant where I spent the vast majority of time emailing students saying things like ‘it’s in the course outline on Loop’ and ‘you can have as many references as you want!’ – and drinking tea, lots of tea!!
After this, I went on to work in Ryanair for a year and a half where I worked on the all things related to the website and app, and got a tonne of experience in the fast moving e-commerce world. Now for the past 10 months, I have been working on the SMB team in Facebook in Dublin City Centre as a Marketing Associate and spend my time supporting events across Europe. So in terms of my career, that’s basically where I am at the moment.
Running parallel to ALLL of this, it’s worth mentioning that I also train for athletics (track and field) six days a week and have been competing at an international level since my college days. During my time in DCU, I was also balancing representing Ireland at the European U23s, European Team Championships x 2, World Relay Championships and European Championships x 2.
So needless to say from all of this, you can probably get an idea of the type of personality I have – I go all out on most things that I commit myself to, so there were a lot of early mornings and a lot of late nights (not the cool kind) during my time in college.
ANYWAYS, back to where I am now – so I’ve just come back from Minsk in Belarus where I spent ten days in the Team Ireland Olympic village competing at the European Games in the ‘Dynamic New Athletics’ (DNA) event. This was the first time Ireland, have ever had a DNA team, so it was nice to be a little part of Irish history. I competed in the Mixed 4x400m event where I was a member of Ireland’s very first Mixed 4×4 team (another bit of history!) and then in the Quarter Finals, I competed the mixed medley relay on the penultimate 200m leg (as you can see from the pic it came right down to the line!).
Brandon Arrey who is also a DCU Business School grad was also on both relay teams and was the Captain of the athletics team too. I’m not saying that going to DCU Business School increases your chance of getting on an International relay team….but by looking at the data it looks to be the case – can’t argue with the data!!
Team Ireland finished roughly where we expected on the ranking tables and we had an amazing experience. What wasn’t so amazing was the journey home which involved buses, 3 planes and 5 hour layovers. We arrived in after midnight after just over 13 hours travelling which was fairly rough – especially as many of us had another competition the very next morning on Sunday!
Then, on Monday – back to the commute and back to reality in work for 8am! My work pals were really nice and got me congratulations desk balloons to come back to which was really cute. Needless to say, I was pretty tired during that week but I had to suck it up and get back into the swing of training as I was heading off to Munich again on Friday to Sunday for another competition, then the following Tuesday, I was heading to London with work for the rest of the week.
So yeah, I suppose you could say I’m pretty tired right now! However my summer athletics season is nearly over with only a few weeks left, so I’m looking forward to taking some time away from the track to just chill for a while….before starting it all over again in September!!
I often get asked how I manage my time and fit everything in. It doesn’t feel excessive to me because I’ve been doing it all for so long but I can understand how it sounds a bit mad to others. Firstly, it helps to have a great support system – my dad’s my coach, my mam runs the athletics club, my sister also competes, my friends and boyfriend have been around me for so long they understand and are used to my odd schedule and habits – not to mention the support I get from members of my club, training groups and work, it all adds up.
In addition, I guess I have a lot of routines – I go to work at the same time, eat at the same times, get home at roughly the same each day, then like clockwork I head straight to training for 2 hours, come home, eat and got to bed – then repeat exactly that for roughly 300 days of the year. Simples!!
I do acknowledge however that there is one part of my running life that I neglect by replacing it with work and that’s recovery – I could really use another 5 hours in a day to get more sleep or to fit that last minute physio session in. But it’s the choice I have made when I decided to pursue both a running career and a professional career at the same time and I wouldn’t change it – both streams of my life have given me amazing opportunities and led me to meet some great people and I’m proud that I have been able to maintain the level I am at in sport for now alongside having full time jobs.
Now don’t get me wrong, for sure I have moments where I think ‘wow should I just go full time in athletics and really give it socks for a year’ but I have learned over the years with my personality and the way I work I NEED something else in my life to keep me busy for the other 12 hours of the day.
The balancing act is not easy, but it’s not impossible. If you are currently wondering how you are going to balance it all (what ever your own balancing act consists of) here are a few work-life tips that I have garnered over the years which might come in handy:
- When looking for a job, ask about the flexible working policies, some companies are much more open to this than others so make sure to enquire about it during the interview stages.
- Just looking for a some experience for a year? Consider a Contractor role. I had never heard about these before, you usually get them through a recruitment agency and are a good way to get a flavour of a company on a temporary contract (i.e up to 12 months) and can be a little more flexible than permanent positions.
- Whatever job or side gig you take on when you are trying to balance sport or otherwise, try to steer away from high pressure workplace environments. This isn’t to say that you can’t handle it, it’s just that it can be very draining if you are using up a lot of your resilience during the day in work, then in the evening expect yourself to be able to be just as resilient at training. Usually when job descriptions say things like ‘fast paced’ ‘high pressure’ and ‘ability to stay calm’ – these kind of roles might to take a bit more out of you than others. Then again, some company’s interpretations of ‘high pressure’ are very different to others, so make sure to do your research online and ask plenty of questions at interviews to get a good idea of the vibe.
- Be open with your manager about your commitments outside of work. You can’t expect your manager to support you in balancing it all if they don’t know about it, so it is up to you to tell them. As long as it does not impact your day to day work duties, most managers are delighted that you have different things going on in your life that will inevitably also benefit your professional career and sometimes will even benefit the reputation of the team/company also.
- Location of your job will have a big impact on the additional hours in your day that you will spend commuting and will take more energy out of you. It doesn’t take a genius to know that 10 mins on the train is easier on you than 1.5 hours traffic on the M50. Really think about the location of the job you are going for and weigh up the pros and cons and consider if it will make it easier or harder for you to balance everything that’s on your plate. If you were to look at my job history, you would probably notice one thing they all have in common – they all were no more than 10 minutes away from a gym or a running track as these were key deciding factors for me.
- Some people will try to tell you that you can’t ‘do both’, it’s usually people who are not balancing close to the amount of things you are and usually those who don’t understand your lifestyle as is. I personally found it easier to balance work and training than to balance college and training – only you know what suits your lifestyle best, so don’t get too bogged down by other’s opinions.
- Talk to people! If you are looking for advice or insight into a company, career path or lifestyle, reach out to someone who is already doing it. Most people are more than happy to offer advice from their own experience to someone else looking to follow a similar path.
So, if you want to follow what I’m up to running wise you can follow me on Twitter, if you want to see a lot of sports photos and videos of my cats you can catch me on Instagram and if you want to chat business – find me on LinkedIn.
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