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.
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.
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!!
(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!
Kristen Chang is Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN), Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics (CSSD) and endurance athlete residing in southwest Virginia alongside her husband and dog. Through this blog she aims to share favorite fueling recipes, general wellness and sport nutrition tips and stories from her athletic endeavors.
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