Whether you’re aiming for a 40 mile training week, or simply getting in 2 solid power walks per week, maintaining fitness requires balancing your workouts with the rest of your life. Over the years I’ve found the following tips to be helpful in maintaining a flexible balance between training commitments and the many other valuable pieces of life.
*Prioritize: Before you take any other measure to effectively fit your training into your life, consider how important it is toyou. A good starting point here is to identify the people and activities in your typical day/week that are non-negotiable priorities for you, and then start to schedule in your training sessions around them. Next you can identify activities in your typical day/week that aren’t as important as your training time, so you can cut back on or eliminate them, so that you’re working from a realistic start point. Remember with this step to keep yourself as a top priority as well…Every minute that you devote to your training or workouts will increase your overall health, confidence, and vitality…All of which ripples out to many life domains, including making you a better spouse, parent, and/or employee.
*Make a Schedule: With your priorities in order, you can now plan your training week on Sunday nights and commit to being both flexible and creative with its implementation. It really is easy for example to run interval laps around the soccer field while you’re kids are at practice. Just remember to take one complete day off from training every week so that you have the option to spend that day with the people/events/activities that are valuable to you, along with building in some quiet self-reflection time.
*Create an Understanding with your Family: Time spent training can be a major conflict issue with family members. As with most potential sources of conflict, communication and compromise often help to minimize resentment or misunderstanding. Discussing your training plans/racing schedule pre-season with family members gives everyone a chance to air their concerns and for all to come up with creative solutions where everyone will benefit. Planning out family vacations around a ‘Destination Race’ that appeals to all for example, or starting a tradition of Sunday breakfast out together after a weekend training session can often create some positive family traditions and support.
*Take a Life Stage or a Seasonal Approach: We all have different priorities at different stages of our lives, so it can be helpful to look at the big picture and plan your athletic goals accordingly. Marathon training for example may have to wait a bit until your kids/spouse/parents/siblings don’t depend upon you as much. Do a reality check every month or so by revisiting your goals and asking how they’re working with the current stage of your life. Correct and redirect as needed.
*Stay Flexible with Vacations and Travel: With proper planning, discipline, and a flexible attitude, it’s possible to enjoy vacations or deal with business travel without losing your training momentum. Think of travel as a running/walking opportunity gained, not lost by looking at it as a chance to explore your new environment. You can contact the hotel desk for safe routes, or if it’s difficult or unsafe to run outside, hit the Fitness Center with cardio or cross-training sessions that will simulate your planned workouts. Again, early communication with family members is key if vacationing, so everyone can plan their day and meet up together at a designated time.
*Consider the Triangle of Life: To keep your training in perspective, think about this triangle: The physical side of your life (body), the intellectual and career side (mind), and the spiritual and emotional side (heart and soul). Any time that you put too much emphasis on any one side of the triangle, the other sides are negatively affected. I like to think of balance not as a static, measured, perfect point, but rather as a variable that constantly shifts with our lives and is a state of constant flux…Balance becomes more about being able to align the changing pieces of our triangle in a way that we and the important people in our lives can feel strong, healthy and cared for at any given time.
Balance then, is an essential characteristic of effective training as well as of a healthy lifestyle. (A perfect set up for alignment!)….Whenever you’re struggling to keep the two going in sync, give some thought to these wise words…
“Living a balanced life can mean learning some and thinking some,
And drawing and painting some,
And singing and dancing and playing and working some every day.”
~ Robert Fulghum, Author ~
Dedicated CT RACE IN THE PARK Coach