Perfecting the work/life/training balance with John Smit

Image credit: Dominic Barnardt/Cape Epic/SPORTZPICS

Image credit: Dominic Barnardt/Cape Epic/SPORTZPICS

The former Springbok captain just completed his third Absa Cape Epic to join the coveted Amabubesi club, much like any other CEO – he’s the chief executive officer of the Sharks – Smit has scant little free time on a regular week. Training for something like the Epic – a gruelling eight-day mountain bike stage race – requires between 15 and 20 hours of training for about four months. Smit has perfected the work/life balance, here are his top five tips to make time for training in your schedule:

1. Train around holiday time

“I did a lot of training around Hermanus and the Hemel and Aarde Valley in December,” he says, explaining how training during his summer holiday month has allowed him to survive as far as he has on the 2016 epic. “That has been a saving grace for sure, because the first four days were not designed for big okes.”

2. Make time for your family

“It’s definitely a sacrifice,” he says. “I have a big job and three kids when it comes to November, December time the family time gets cut first and that is probably the biggest sacrifice for this race,” he says. According to Smit it might be different if you have a flexible job, but if you don’t, you need to make sure to make time for your wife and kids.

“My alarm goes off at 3:30, then I’m on the road by 4:00 and back by 6:00,” he explains. “For three months you are sleeping on average two or three hours less.” For Smit the first month or two was tough. “By 14:00 you feel kind of flat, so you have to manage that,” he says. “But, your body is phenomenal you know, it adapts and then you start waking up automatically and the afternoons get easier.

“The only time I get to see my wife is between 7:30 when the kids go to bed and sort of 9:30, 10pm,” he says.

3. Do it for the right reasons

The obvious question for someone with a wife and three kids and CEO stress then, is ‘why’? Why did you come back for the third time? “Shane (Chorley, his long-time best friend) has had a lot to do with it,” Smit says. “I’ve known him since we were 10-years-old, this is his sixth and it really is the one time of the year where we get to catch up and go through something pretty special together.”

“When you do one. And you sort of make the mistake of doing two, you can’t stop at two,” he says. “Then you have to get the ‘Amabubesi’ out of the way…” Now that that is ‘out of the way’ Smith says he might take a bit of a break from the race.

According to Smit he’s also learned a lot from this race that helps him in his role as Sharks CEO – in terms of planning and logistics and the like. “Also, the camaraderie is something of a duplication of what we are used to as rugby players – you see a lot guys going through some dark places and they see you going through some tough times. And so you sort of weave through this race together and forge friendships that will last forever,” he says.