I was recently reminded of the importance of remaining flexible with our training schedules, in order to balance the many priorities in our lives. The other day, my son asked if I could drive him somewhere early in the morning. My first thought was “Ugh, what about my morning run and 9 a.m. workout at Triplex?” I sighed, thought about it for a few minutes, and then remembered: training is meant to enhance your life, not rule your life. The point of training is to offer a goal, a target and a gauge against which to track progress. Training is about doing a little something each day to improve yourself, both physically and mentally–in running, and in everything.
However, it is also important to keep in mind that the discipline to train every day goes hand-in-hand with the willingness to accept that “life happens” and to be flexible in your response. And you can believe me, it doesn’t matter how detailed and well-planned out your calendar is, life is gonna happen!
It’s been said that disappointment is the result of unmet expectations. Disappointment is focusing on a desired thing, rather than the desired feeling. Disappointment is pouting, “I was planning to get my tempo run and strength training in, but instead I’m stuck driving my son across town. Ugh!” instead of asking, “What feeling am I hoping to achieve through running, and how can I create that same feeling while driving with my son?”
The key: know your priorities. Mine are faith, family, friends, coaching and running. Each one of those things make me light up like a freaking Christmas tree. When I tend to my priority areas, I feel loved, supported, strong, capable and complete. I feel joy. My faith, family, friends, coaching and running all make me who I am. Missing one day of training will never change that.
My family and my running are both important to me, so it was difficult to be put in the position of choosing one over the other. However, when I really thought about it, both make me happy and both make me feel accomplished. I could adjust my schedule, spend time with my son and–really–lose nothing. And that’s just what I did. I flip-flopped my runs for the week, planned for an evening strength training and spent a wonderful morning talking and bonding with my son as we drove. And I don’t regret it for a minute!
It’s Not a Competition
Life isn’t a competition to see who is the most perfect, but rather a test and an opportunity to see who can be the happiest despite life’s imperfections. Yes, it is important to complete your training runs when preparing for a marathon, but also remember that it is totally okay to rearrange, reschedule and occasionally even skip our training. Runners tend to be a little rigid when it comes to a schedule. Sometimes we feel that if we miss a workout, we won’t be able to achieve our goal, or we’ll instantly lose our fitness. Let me tell you, that is crazy-talk!
Workouts Will Be Missed
Over the years, I’ve missed many a workout due to “life” and I’ve still achieved many, many running goals. Consistency and the gradual accumulation of skills are the ingredients for improvement and success. If you miss a key workout, try to make it up another day and, if you can’t, write it off and keep going. However, if you are skipping workouts left and right and can’t stay consistent, you may need to adjust your goals and priorities or revisit your master plan.
I’ve never had a perfect training cycle, but in my pursuit of the perfect Running-Life balance, I’ve learned a few things.
I schedule my runs on Sunday, before the week begins, so I have a plan.
I schedule my runs for the morning, before the day begins, so there is less room for distractions and changed plans.
I have learned that flexible consistency works better than rigid discipline.
Progress toward the end goal is more important than hitting every single stride on the way there.
I am allowed to have more than one priority, and I am allowed to make time for both. You are too.
A lifetime of lessons brought me to these realizations. Being flexible allowed me to adjust my schedule, help out my son and enjoy one on one uninterrupted time talking with him during our drive. Never forget what is really important in life. Goals are an integral part of a fulfilling life, but family is as well. Discover and continually rediscover what is important to YOU, and make balancing all of your goals the number one, top priority.
Keep on Believing,