Can you imagine getting up every morning four hours before you are due at the office to take part in a gruelling training regime, only to spend another three hours in the gym as soon as you finish work?
For some, this is a situation that has become the norm because they have pinned their hopes on competing in the London 2012 Olympic Games.
CMS Cameron McKenna trainee and 800-metre Olympic hopeful Edward Jackson is one. “There’s always time to fit something in if you want it enough,” insists Jackson.
That said, the 25-year-old has just started a corporate seat in Sofia and is finding it hard to fit training into his daily routine as he tries to settle into his new surroundings.
“I’ve been trying to do a bit of base work as you can’t train at a high intensity for too long, but it’s quite hard being in a new seat, let alone a completely new country,” he explains. “I’ve only been in the seat for three weeks so I’m checking out the gyms and looking for running routes, but I’m sure my routine will get back to normal very soon.” Jackson started running during his gap year before he started at the University of Nottingham.
“I’ve always played sport and was good at rugby and enjoyed cricket, but really took up running more seriously before starting university,” he explains. “Since then I’ve competed in many major global competitions and represented Great Britain and England in well over 50 Grand Prix and matches at home and abroad against other nations.”
When he started with Camerons last year, Jackson was managing to fit in doing what he calls “speed sessions” at the gym, as well as track work and doing the morning and evening commute by running to and from work.
“My inspiration is Roger Black, who won two silvers at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics,” enthuses Jackson. “He’s a good family friend who I’ve known since I was young. I think about him and what he’s achieved when things are getting tough.”
Elsewhere, Herbert Smith competition lawyer Ruth Sander is hoping for a spot in the Olympic rowing team in 2012. Starting with the firm as a trainee in August 2005, Sander currently works as a consultant at Herbert Smith because of her gruelling training regime.
“For me the working environment at Herbert Smith has been better than I ever expected in terms of the amount of support I’ve been given to train with the Great Britain lightweight women’s rowing team, as well as my Olympic training,” she says.
Sander admits that balancing training and work can sometimes be a challenge and she has to train six days a week.
“When I was doing my training contract, and even as an associate, I was training on the river at 5.30am in the dark,” she recalls. “I would then have to get the train into the office and then hit the gym in the evening.”
But Herbert Smith recognised that she was starting to train at a high level and Sander explains that she was supported by the firm and allowed to enjoy flexible working.
“I went to the partners and told them what I was doing and they arranged for me to work one day a week from home, but as I started to row at a higher level it became harder to hold down a full-time job so I went part-time,” she explains. “Most recently I’ve taken unpaid leave for a year to give 100 per cent to my training.”
And with the 2012 Olympics still two years away, it could all seem like too much for most people. Sander, however, is spurred on by the challenge.
“Whenever I feel down I just look at the other girls I train with and I’m filled with encouragement because I know they have to contend with the same issues each day,” she says. “We all continue to strive for our sport because we genuinely love what we do and believe we can succeed.”