Saturday, August 17, 2013

Run-Life Balance

The timing of this post is pretty impeccable, because after 4 weeks of working hard, travel on top of training, this girl is tired!! No doubt I need a break, so I'm heading to the beach to be with family, sitting my bum in the sand, enjoying good food and drink and minimal training. I am more than ready to relax and recharge before taking on a BUSY fall of racing!

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While a huge advocate of moderation, I'm often a person of excessive enthusiasm that LOVES to do everything. It's true! Doing what you love is important, but the saying "too much of a good thing" is also very real. I've been running since the age of 10 and it's essentially everything I know. Though it's an important aspect of my life, I'm learning it's not everything and how to not take it too seriously. Why? Because I love running enough that I want it to continue to be a sustainable source of joy for a VERY long time.
Can I pleeeeease go back to being a kid??
That's me, age 10, Youth Cross County Nationals.

A friend of mine shared this quote on his awesome blog and I'm borrowing it!
Running, in the purest definition of the word, is freedom.  Freedom from relationships, bills, and obligations; running is freedom from the tedium of life.  Running is where stress goes to die and when the imagination has recess.  Running is solitude, reflection, friendship, and camaraderie.  Running is man in his most primitive form.  Many consider it to be the most basic progression of human development - some call it evolutionary.  For me, running is cheap therapy and time well invested in my physical and mental health.  It has been my sanctuary, foundation, passion, and at times my obsession. --Brett Sherfy
Beautifully written Brett! Competition, PR's and being fit are definite motivators to run, but they're definitely not the primary reasons why I do it. I run because I love it, my dad, husband and many close friends run, it keeps me sane, it provides me with a great sense of freedom from our ever-chaotic world... and it's a huge source of balance in my life.

Freeeeeeeedom
Anyways, any ambitious athlete understands that working hard and pushing limits is also like walking a tightrope. There can be a fine line between optimal stress for improvement and overtraining or burnout, and it's SO easy to let your goals take over your life! That's where run-life balance comes into play... So humor me as I apply the Action Plan from last week to running/training/etc from my perspective:

(1) Determine what REALLY matters! What are your priorities?
Remember where your athletic endeavors fall in terms of priorities and don't let your ambitions highjack your life. A little perspective can go a long ways. I hate when life gets in the way with training (don't we all?), but I'm rolling with it a little better and learning that one missed workout (or two or three at that) isn't the end of the world. Likewise, investment in other priorities can help keep workout motivation fresh!

(2) Identify "time wasters" and drop unnecessary activities.
This applies in finding time to train but also in not over-doing it. If life obligations are getting in the way of doing what you love, delegate or drop unnecessary activities (where possible). Note: That doesn't mean pushing off responsibilities on unwilling loved ones or ignoring job duties! As for running itself, make each run purposeful and don't just do it for the sake of putting in miles.

(3) Protect your private time. Set limits.
I TRY to set limits in life activities to make sure I have time to run because it helps me to be a happier, healthier and more effective wife/employee/friend/etc. However, I'm also learning to setting limits in knowing when to not workout. Ask yourself, "Is this extra workout going to make or break my training?"We all hate skipping workouts, but if it's stressing you out or wearing you down more than it should or impeding on family time, then don't be afraid to take a day off.

(4) Accept and provide help: find motivation from others!
Having a strong support system will help you to achieve your goals and it's also much more fun! Recruit a workout buddy to get you through hard workouts, team-up with a friend in the pursuit of a goal or hire a coach :) Similarly, give back to the sport by volunteering for a race, at a local kids training group or by supporting a friend's athletic endeavors. Encouraging and supporting others in their goals is hugely rewarding and motivating!!
Family track workouts are the BEST. 
(5) Plan fun & relaxation. 
I'm learning the art of NOT taking training too seriously (my husband is certainly glad for that!). Push yourself when it matters and other times let go, relax, remember why you do what you do. Remind yourself of that every day! Sing and dance while running, splash in the mud, run in the rain, include your friends/spouse/dog, explore a new route, get lost, etc. Probably my biggest philosophy: Work hard, but find joy in the process!

On a different note, don't let go of your hobbies or interests outside the sport that keep your life balanced. Mine include photography, crafts, blogging, cooking, walking the dog and my favorite, feeding/pestering/embarrassing my husband :)

(6) Be present. Unplug!
Technology can be useful and fun, but some days it's better to leave it all at home! I love running with my IPOD mini, but somedays music is an unnecessary distraction, as can be anxiety, stress and needless thoughts that we sometimes carry during workouts. Let it go and just focus on being present in the moment! Same goes with balance and GPS devices: don't let those pesky numbers steal your joy.

(7) My addition (and favorite): Progress is not just measured in numbers.
We live in a results driven world and race/workout times are often used to quantify progress. However, there are many ways to measure success that don't involve numbers!! For example: tackling a hill you previously avoided, stepping outside your comfort zone in a variety of ways, learning to pace yourself more consistently or hey, establishing greater balance. Health and wellness: it's a life long process, so give yourself credit for these little victories and let them be stepping stones to something greater!
Love this!!

Train hard and have fun! Don't forget to find joy in the process.

8 comments:

  1. Your back looks awesome in the trail pic! haha I always think that "I wish I were still a kid!"

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    1. Doesn't mean we can't act like kids :) especially if you have little ones!!

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  2. Amazing post!!! I had to learn the hard way about finding balance with my training schedule due to two injuries :\ Only made me a stronger runner in the end though (mentally and physically haha)

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  3. Yea, Kailey, I have definitely learned the hard way too!

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  4. Ah, I loved this post and had been looking forward to it since you mentioned it last week!

    I'm not sure which is cooler... that you ran in the Youth Cross County Nationals competition, or that you have such a great picture to remember it by!

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    1. Funny, I remember that race very vividly! It was in Columbus, OH. I had not a clue what I was doing but it really didn't matter.

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  5. The picture of you as a kid is so adorable!!! I can relate to "loving to do anything." But load up with too much and then none of it is fun anymore. I'm still learning that. In fact, I just made the decision NOT to run Boston again this year to really focus on my priorities next year (Nationals, Worlds). Great post, you have a lot of wisdom at a young age!

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    1. Just found the pic recently. Now it stays on the fridge! I have such happy memories of running as a kid :)

      Definitely hard to prioritize the athletic goals...sounds like you made the best decision for you! Gosh, at this point I'm worried about even getting into Boston. We'll see I guess.

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