Sunday, 29 September 2013

Finding balance in the busy-ness

Trying to balance running and cycling... and family, and work, and M.Ed, and .........
September has nearly come to a close. It started with a Meet Your Maker experience, that was very, very enjoyable and disappointing all in one, and ends with a decision to can the cyclocross season altogether. Along the way included 45 hours of physical activity, nearly 370kms of running on the month, the start of the SFU HEAL Masters in Education, along with September start up at school.

Finding Balance--the test of ones life:

Needless to say, it has been a busy month. Trying to find balance between late night studies, early morning runs, weekend long runs, classes for me at SFU Surrey and my own delivery of classes, and impromptu appointments like one the other evening ("Oh, by the way--it is meet the teacher night at the kids school. See you there!) have me reeling with energy and fatigue, trying to process the fast paced mad action that a jammed full schedule dictates. Our time is not our own--it is for those that expect of us. Kids, students, classmates, spouses, family, we give ourselves over to those who we are responsible to.

I do try to steal a few minutes of my own away at the bookends of the day. However, burning the candle at both ends means that it will burn out quicker. Finding that balance is something that I am trying to find. The early setting sun, more darkness in our day--I trust that we are in for a dank autumn--one that dishes out tenfold what summer managed to hold off. Rain rain, here we go. Get ready for SADs. But again, my secret weapon of choice will always be a positive attitude, and to run. And run. And run. And run....

Leaping from lily pad to lily pad-- weekends, family birthdays, thanksgiving, pro-d days--oh look it is Remembrance Day--cross country races (for me, the racer, and for my student athletes), HEAL classes, late night readings, cross country coaching sessions, massage sessions, Christmas, etc, etc, may prove to be the perfect excuse for a vacation. Away. To the sunnier climes. Unfortunately, that is not in the foreseeable future.

What I have left to get me through it all are my next  few runs, my positive attitude, my ability to deal with winter in Canada as I have for the last 37 years, and staying productive will all help to keep me off the mundane treadmill of life, and keep me on living with engagement. I look at the schedule and see the excitement of responsibility, rather than the dread of work. The last thing I desire is to punch a clock with my time sheet.

September Summary:

But back to the monthly recap, forgive me for including the dooshbrag part of this post: This September has marked a milestone for me. I have managed to run further this month than any month in my running life(style). I use lifestyle, and not career, because:

1. I do not make any money from running. I wish I did, but I don't, and never will. Unless I get into shoes in some way, shape, or form. Or unless I get really, really fast. Unlikely.

2. My life is about moving--running is a huge part of that life. It has become my outlet, my lifestyle. My closet tells the tale of that lifestyle. It may be time to cull some of the running shirts I have acquired, and downsize a little.

The total distance is 367 which averages to 12.75 kilometres a day.

Some notable points on the month:

--4 long runs of 37, 30, 26, and 32 kms in prep for the Victoria Marathon. Although those are short of the 42.2km distance, I am certain that once a person runs to about 32 for marathon preparation, running more makes them more prone to injury. Volume yes, but not too much volume. It is a balancing act.

--A second place finish at the South Fraser Bear Creek Park 8k XC on September 28th --first overall in my age category,  in a time of 30:44. I now need to complete 4 more races with good results to capture to 30-39 overall series title.

--4 Wednesday mornings of Yasso 800m track intervals. That has definitely upped my speed.

But that is not the whole tale of the tape. The best part of this is that I have more or less run injury free. No Achilles tendinitis, no IT band issues, no other nagging pains that become part of the life of a runner. Often in the past when I had those little pains crop up, I would run through them, ride through them, and not let my body rest up enough to let itself heal. With a big race coming up, or the need to train because of the thought that one day off  just might be the end of my personal goal attainment, I would push on and punch through, weakening my body and tiring myself out.

Back to the milestone of September. By mid month, I was on pace for 400kms of running this month. As of tonight, I still need about 30kms to reach that goal, one that I have giving up on due to the fact that after school on Monday the 30th, a 33 km run is out of the question. What good would it do?

Mind and Body: Just what is that connection? 

In trying to be health, sometimes we engage in detrimental behaviors that affect our health; unhealthy choices as a means to an end. For instance, one beer tastes good, 3 more won't hurt right? Alcohol consumption is just the example. I know that we are talking about exercise, so I will keep it at that. Over training--the act of thinking you need to go harder than you body will allow at that moment. That is when one needs to listen to their body, rather than their head, as your body often times knows what it needs. Yet we will override those sensations and take control. A typical over-training conversation between body and mind might go like this:

Mind: Go running. Now. If you miss a day, you will get lazy. You need to run. You need to exercise.

Body: But mind, I am sooo tired. I need just a day of rest.

Mind: You are weak. You suck. You are not any good. 

Body: I am injured. I need to rest.

Mind: I can't believe you.....You disappoint me. Go out and run and run fast. It should be joyless and monotonous.

Body: .....Oh......Alright.....You win.....I will drag this tired, injured butt out the door and into the cold so that I can try to stay focused on my goal, yet continue to sink further in injury rather than take the necessary time off to heal up and approach these workouts with vitality.

Mine: Good boy. Shut up and go run yer junk miles.

This back and forth is probably the opposite of the norm of moderately active people's inner monologue. I would suggest that simply getting out the door is sometimes difficult for many people. For the athlete trying to be healthy or training in high performance, many do not do enough to take care of themselves to exist in optimal condition. Athletes will train hard, train hard, train hard, fall into a deficit, then try to taper and rest just a little before their event. While existing in that deficit, they can get discouraged and down on themselves if the results don't come, or if the training sessions are not fruitful. It has happened to me, plenty of times.

I met up Tom Craik, a  fellow trail racer/ friend/ competitor.  Today at the Vanier Cyclocross race, we had a short conversation about running and cycling, and results driven performance. We spoke briefly of ultra running and the apparent rise of performance enhancing drugs on the ultra scene, a sport that is virtually untouched from doping controls due to its grassroots nature, small purses, and lack of a governing body to control athletes, much like BC Athletics or Cycling BC, or on a larger scale, Athletics Canada and Canadian Cycling Association. The main idea was that athletes are addicted to results--top results in order to perhaps feel validated, to allow them to reach the next level, the next contract, the endorsement deals, etc. unhealthy choices for as a means to an end.

The ever burning question that we all ask ourselves as runners of "why do we run" came into my mind, yet again. Do I run for fun? For results? For competition? For a future goal? To run away from something?
I suppose the answer is yes to all of those, at different times and places. But right now that is for another post....

For now, I am curious:

How have you dealt with maintaining balance in your life? 

When things get busy, and there is little time for anything but what you are doing right now, what do you do? 

The idea that something has got to give, usually does. If so, what is it? Personal health? Time with the kids? Your professional responsibilities? Time to exercise?