MOST lawyers would agree that keeping a hobby or activity is one of the best ways to maintain a healthy work-life balance.

Senior Associate Sian Reece (pictured) of Minter Ellison, however, redefines this idea on the next level.

Where some might pick up a guitar, join a soccer team or paint a canvas, Reece devotes the other half of her life to training at a world-class level, gearing up to compete in Ironman championships around the globe each year.

This October Reece will be taking her first shot at the World Ironman Championships in Hawaii, currently holding the Australian Champion title within her age group for both the full and half Ironman distances.

For Reece, a typical morning will start at 4:30am as she beats the sunrise to her first swim training session of the day.

The night ends well after 7pm with a 20km run back home and between it all she finds the time for a full day at the office, working within Minter Ellison's projects team.

Reece sat down with Brisbane Legal to share how she maintains such a gruelling day-to-day schedule and offers her best tips for getting the most out of each day.



What does a world class Ironman championship really involve, at a training and competition level?

An Ironman event is essentially a triathlon, it's just a very long triathlon. There's hundreds of thousands of people around the world who do this crazy sport, and most of them have the goal of trying to get to the World Championships in Hawaii one day.

The competition is firstly a 3.8km swim in open water, followed by an unassisted bike ride of 180km. Then you top it off with a full 42.2km marathon, so it's a very long day to say the least. For me personally, I hope it will be something around the 10-hour mark.


You have such a demanding job, and an extremely high performance sporting life how do you balance both?

I won't deny, it does involve a lot of organisation and it can be a struggle at times. I liken it a little bit to the challenges people face with children, in that you have to be extremely organised and be ready to give full commitment to whatever you do at any given time.

That idea has been a big part of my life, particularly in the last 12 months as I've stepped up into high level competition. I try to be extremely focused when I'm training, and also when I'm working. It's all about bringing 100% of my attention and energy to what I'm doing at any one time. In order to juggle two very demanding aspects of your life I think it's essential.


What inspired you to choose the law over the sport?

I haven't always been what you would call an extremely sporty person. I played most sports in school and I was involved in athletics, but I certainly wasn't the star sports pupil by any means.

I always did well at school, and then went on to do law at university and I really enjoyed it from day one. I've been practicing as a lawyer for eight years now, and I've had enough time to decide that this is really what I enjoy doing and what I want to do with my professional life.

My sporting career has then grown in tandem with that.


What would your best piece of advice be to a person who Is looking to balance their career with a strong outside interest?

Our careers are very long, and increasingly getting longer. We're working until we're 60 or 70, even later in some cases. So you have to enjoy what you're doing in order for longevity, and having something outside of work which really lights your fire is one way to do that.

If you have an outside interest, I would say go for it but I would also say to recognise that it can be a challenge. You need the right support team in order to make it happen, and one of the things I've been extremely lucky with is that I've got a really good support network in both my professional and personal life.

It's really important to surround yourself with the right people who will recognise what you are about to achieve, and the fact that you are juggling several different balls at once.


Do you have any special plans this year in the lead up to or following Hawaii in October?

I'm doing two World Championships this year, the one in October and then another half-Ironman championship in September which is held on the Sunshine Coast. I guess that will be my warm up; one hell of a warm up! At the end of the year I'm also getting married.

I'm very happy to share my story, particularly with younger lawyers who often tend to think they will have to make a lot of really hard choices, where it's either their career or their interests at stake.
Yes, you will have to make hard choices from time to time, but it doesn't mean that you can't do many different things with your life. You can have it all, you just can't necessarily have it all at once.

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