In a newfound passion, I bicycled 120 miles last week in three outings. I didn’t have the appropriate gear and I wasn’t in shape, but I loved every minute of it.

If you’ve never tested yourself to see your breaking point, bike 40+ miles with zero calorie intake. With every trip, I was ravenous when I got home, not sure whether I would touch my bike again. One or two days later, I was back to the trail.

Here’s what I’m struggling with: it’s very difficult to be exceptionally fit and be career focused. I want to say they’re mutually exclusive. Maybe they’re not, but they’re close.

Most of my friends work regular 40 hour weeks. Some of them 60. Others of them are going to college and working fulltime. It’s not unheard of for some of them to work all night, hop in bed at 7:00 in the morning, then stroll into a 9:30 class.

College, career … and cycling. Is it realistically possible to pursue all three of these, or is it a crazy idea destined to burn out? Cycling takes more of a commitment time-wise than running. A decent 48-mile ride takes me an entire afternoon. Once the summer semester starts up, I’m afraid I won’t be able to keep it up. I’m taking some heavy courses too — including Calculus and Physics.

Can you be physically fit while going to college and paying the bills?

If I have to pick which once I’m going to thrive at, am I going to be out of shape, or accept bad grades? I love my 3.9+ GPA, but I also love breaking away from the stereotypical mold of a computer scientist who never gets out of his chair and explores the world of cardio. While these two things are important, paying the bills is a must that outweighs these other two. Earning money is an inescapable, biological necessity in Western culture.

Most of my peers don’t even try to be in shape, so they’re not a source of inspiration or guidance for me. Help!

As I see it, here’s the biggest things I love about being in shape:

  • Makes you feel better
  • Makes you look better
  • Helps you solve technical, business-related problems better
  • Helps you perform better in academia, both in memorization and focusing during potentially stressful exams (of which I have many)
  • Relieves stress and makes human relation problems vanish
  • Instills a weird feeling of, “I love this because since it doesn’t make money, I’m not spending every waking moment thinking about the almighty dollar.” It’s the same reason artists paint masterpieces that they know will never sell. They wouldn’t enjoy them nearly as much if they knew they were going to sell. This is a whole other topic, but hopefully you’ve experienced this at some point and know exactly what I’m talking about.

Here are the biggest problems with exercise:

  • Takes a lot of time
  • Doesn’t make money
  • Costs money
  • Keeping good cardio and endurance = high maintenance and goes away quickly

But forget college for a second. What about just juggling a fulltime career and pursuing a semi-serious exercise program? I can see it being certainly possible to mediocrely maintain them, but can you excel at both? I’m the kind of guy who hates doing something if I’m not going to excel at it. Just biking once a week isn’t going to cut it. I need to be out there at least three times a week, or I’m going to drop it completely. I can’t imagine I’m the only one who hates doing things in halves, either. You have to go all out or abort.

I’ll roll the dice, and see what happens.