Balance. It isn't anything new. So many of us seek it and it is never something we end up having for too long before we lose it and start seeking it out again. There are so many roles we lead in life. Mother, wife, friend, athlete, teacher...the list goes on. So many parts to us that need nurturing in order to be our best self. Our whole self. And this is true as an athlete too.
As I finish up here with my Monday strength training, a new routine to get my soon-to-be Boston Marathon training off to a great start, my head is full of dreams and possibilities. I'm thinking of the treadmill I'm going to get, lofty goals of getting up to 80 miles a week and how I'm going to fit it all in. My mind is spinning with what training plan I should choose, how to plug it all in a chart, and what books I should read. I'm thinking of threshold pace, tempo runs, base pace, VDOT (whatever that means), and so many other terms that I am trying to wrap my head around in hopes of being on track for running the best marathon of my life.
With every push-up and lunge in my living room this morning, I was hyper aware of all the thoughts spinning around in my head and I realized just how easy it is to get off balance with the rest of our life. As athletes we are so used to focusing on our goals that we sometimes lose sight of all the non-running/athletic aspects of our life that are equally important in living a a balanced life and nurturing the WHOLE us and essentially...
The WHOLE ATHLETE.
Having big running and athletic goals requires consistent and focused physical training. Dedication. Mileage, speed work, long runs and injury prevention. So much. But just as with anything in our life, we are best at what we do when we are giving to other areas of our life, our brain, and our being. We thrive when we are BALANCED. As cliche as it is, that Mind-Body-Spirit connection isn't anything to stop seeking. I'm convinced that it is what will be KEY to reaching my running goals.
So, how do I find balance? What areas of my life will I have to be ultra-conscious of taking time for when I get immersed in the depths of marathon training? In addition to fitting in mileage and workouts, here's a list of some of the things I will be working into my marathon training plan to make sure that I am nurturing my whole self...all of my brain, spirit, and mind, in addition to my body.
* Added later in response to a couple of comments. I'd like to clarify that these things are only things that I will be drawing from. Think of it like having a bucket that I might draw from...my BALANCE Bucket! I find that when I am immersed in marathon training, I am too tired to reflect and be super aware of all of the other things I'm letting go. Because of this, important things like family, relationships and nurturing my spirit tend to go to the wayside and this ISN'T okay with me. Yes, I want to do it all...wouldn't that be nice but most of all I want to make sure that I don't get in a one track mindset and become obsessed with this one marathon goal. I know myself enough to know how obsessive I can be. These are all things that I will put in my balance bucket to draw from here and there as I train. Certainly, I won't be filling all of these things every day or week but they will be reminders of things I don't want to forget! Maybe I will even put them on paper and place them in a basket or bucket so that I can occasionally draw them out and read them...something tangible! So, I hope these don't overwhelm you...they are only meant to be reminders and not things that I will be doing ALL THE TIME! I'm not superhuman nor do I want to be.
- Focused Time With My Kids--intentional one-on-one time with my kids when I try to shut off my running brain and NOT think/obsess over my goals. This will be important for me to make an active goal because it is so easy to let opportunities pass me by when I am focused on a big goal.
- Nutrition--I'm going to HAVE to plan better meals that will feed and fuel my marathon training self. The good thing is that my husband will be training for a marathon as well so we will can help each other with this. Our kids will benefit from from this too! Bring on the quinoa, protein shakes, brown rice, kale, etc. We are pretty healthy already but I'm not the best at making sure I'm getting all my nutrients when I'm not training.
- Spiritual Time--This is different for everyone. For me this will come from reflecting, praying, and really thinking about my life and my world from an outside perspective. Being Still with myself.
- Using my gifts to GIVE to others--It is always rewarding and energizing when we are sharing our gifts with others and making a difference. I'd like to find a way to take time to volunteer, be part of a group, or find a leadership role where I can make a difference. This might mean just accepting the job of doing the once a month mommy-and-me story hour. I can certainly put on my teacher hat and read some stories and get a group of preschoolers movin' and groovin'. Perhaps I'll finally get that women's running/writing/journal group going!
- Time for Learning--Learning about things other than just Running!
- Relationships--It will be important for me to be conscious of making time for my girlfriends, husband, mom, etc. So easy to just be all about me, me, me but I can't just let my relationships fall to the wayside for the next 24 weeks. BALANCE Amanda!
- Relaxation--Imagine that, relaxation is good for us?! I will make time to just sit on the couch and watch a movie or read a mindless magazine! This is hard for me since I rarely slow down.
- Creative Expression. I've said it many times before and I'll say it again and again, I strongly believe that despite our insistence that we don't have a creative bone in our body, we all have some way that we can tap into the creative parts of our brain. It is different for everyone. And it doesn't have to be conventional. I think this is just one way to nurture our whole brain since we are doing so much of the analytical stuff when we are processing paces, numbers, charts, and time goals. I might choose to do this by doing art with my kids, writing, journal collages, maybe even cooking. Definitely spending time in my FORT!
- Yoga--We see it all the time. Runners who are super motivated and excited to train train train only to hit the wall with injury or overtraining. One of the ways I want to make sure to fit in body, mind, spirit balance and keeping my body stretched and relaxed.
- Personal Journal Dates--As you all know, I connect with myself the most deeply through reflection and time in my journal. This is where I really dig deep with Amanda! I spend time listing gratitude, setting goals, reevaluating, and processing. I HAVE to make time for this at least once a week if not every morning. My blog time sometimes gets in the way of that but it is important for me to not let that go. I have many journals...marriage journals, kid journals, running journals but my personal journal is essential for making sure this WHOLE Self nurturing really happens!
There are so many other things I could add to this list. Balance isn't easy. Otherwise, there wouldn't be so many of us trying to attain it. What do you want to make more time for in order to nurture your WHOLE Self or WHOLE Athlete?