There was great article in the New York Times yesterday about Bob Kennedy, a one time elite mid-distance runner who had to strike a balance between running and life. Ex-Distance Star is Taking it Slower. He completely stops running and takes 5 years off before coming back as an amateur and rekindles the joy of running.
Author Jere Longman points out that: “Running was a consuming emotional investment. He was intensely competitive, training twice a day, nearly every day, running up to 130 miles a week. He found it to be a life of necessary selfishness, everything focused on his career, which brought great achievement but came with a price.”
I think even though most of us are amateurs ourselves, we can all in someway relate to this statement. We set big goals, we arrange and rearrange schedules to get it done, we eat like it is a sport itself, our good friends know where to find us Friday night and Saturday morning and Sunday morning (in bed, out running and out running).
So the question becomes for how long can we maintain that lifestyle? Does this question first make you think mental not physical? Is it through one training cycle, up to a big event, up to a big goal? Can we stay committed and focused and balance the rest of life?
I think the answer is most assuredly YES! The caveat you ask? Know yourself, trust yourself and don’t forget what makes you happy about running or swimming or biking. Training especially before a big race starts to feel an awful lot like work. Putting in those high mileage weeks means, less time for everything else, a tired body and more burden for your loved ones. But that being said we learn to know our bodies and know ourselves. If you get to where you need to cut a workout short and do something amazing for your significant other because they’ve been out crewing your training rides every weekend for months, then do it! Swap a road run for a day on the trails, sold! Taking care of the jobs to physically achieve a goal is key but taking care of ourselves mentally is the answer. Without balance within your sport and outside of it, you are not training at your best. To go the distance and still love what you are doing, to keep the focus and finish wanting just a little more you have to take care of your whole self.