Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Biggest Challenge So Far

What a year it has been so far! I'm really proud of all I am acheiving and glad to be in a really good running groove. But it is not all perfect by any means. It is challenging! And I'm not talking about the workouts, or the races, or even the nutrition factor...
My biggest challenge so far has been finding a balance.
You see, in addition to being a runner,  I'm a mother of 3, a military spouse, a student, and I also serve on my church's worship team and volunteer at my child's school. My life is a whirlwind most of the time.I know many of you can relate!
We live on the North Coast of Oregon, and our plans are dictated much of the time by the weather. When it is nice out, we know how to drop everything, hitch on the travel trailer and hit a local campground somewhere to enjoy it! When it is beautiful, this is one of the nicest places to live...unfortunately the beautiful days are few and far between until summer comes (around July).
My kids keep me busier than I can honestly handle, but I stay afloat the best that I can. Between homework, chores and general parenting plus sports, piano, school activities and doctors appointments, at least one of them has something they are involved in every single afternoon. Gone are the stay-at-home-mom days where we rarely got out of the house! They are three boys, so the noise level is elevated at just about all hours of the day that we are home and just keeping enough food in the house to satisfy them is a challenge! 
I am also a Coast Guard spouse, so my life is also largely dictated by my husband's work schedule and I have to figure out how to get everything done without his help most of the time. He also serves in the community as an assistant varsity baseball coach for the high school, which I am glad to support him in. 
Then there is my education. I'm a pre-nursing student on the brink of possibly beginning nursing school (application is submitted, I am just waiting to hear). I am in a constant state of being just a little bit behind in my anatomy class, which is the only class I am taking by the way so you would think it is the easiest thing in the world, but it is not! Studying and absorbing the material takes hours and hours of listening to lectures, reading my textbook, drawing out diagrams and completing practice tests. I love what I am learning, at least that is a bonus.
Ok why did I say all of that? Somewhere in the last few weeks I feel like I have lost my balance and I need to shift my focus. You see, I started this blog/challenge because I thought it would be really fun and a great way to motivate myself to run regularly. While it is fun and challenging, I feel like too many other things in my life suffer for the sake of my running routine. I have been stressing out every time I miss a scheduled run, or don't meet my mileage goals.  When I'm not running, I'm thinking about/stressing about my next run/how I will sneak more miles into my week. It's an exhausting state of mind...all motivated by my goal to reach 1,000 miles by the end of the year. I don't want other areas of my life to suffer for the sake of my running fitness goals. That would not be cool. And it would kind of suck the joy out of it at the same time!
I should be able to take a day off to get some good study time in or to escape for a spontaneous camping trip with my family and not feel guilty about it. I want to sit and watch my sons' activities without worrying about if I have clean clothes for my next morning's run. It's ok if I go hiking with my husband on a Saturday instead of running (even though hiking doesn't 'count' toward my 1,000 miles goal). I am sick of heading to school on Monday feeling guilty that I did not meet my last week's mileage goals. (Yes, I have been obsessing at that level) I might be in nursing school soon with even less time to devote to outside activities than I have now. If I don't find balance now, I'm going to go crazy then. Coming to terms with your limitations is an extremely humbling yet valuable thing. We really pressure ourselves to find inner motivation and we say, "If it is important to you, you will find time..." but honestly, I need to sleep at some point. My kids need their mom, my husband needs his wife. School is important, and I can't get by with Cs. So while it is easy to say that you make time for exercise if it is important, one factor you cannot change is that there are only 24 hours in a day! 

Exercise/running should be a priority, do not get me wrong. I am usually the first person to lend an encouraging word to a friend who needs motivation. I myself am a much happier/healthier person when I have gotten a great run in. So I'm not quitting by any means. But it's time to take a step back.  I'm done paying so much attention to my mileage goals, it throws me into obsessive thinking. I will still track my mileage while sticking to a half marathon training plan for May's race. But I'm not going to analyze it so much. My original goal was to see how far I could run this year, but NOT at the expense of everything else in my life. Running is a great side dish to my life, it is not the main course. If I don't run all the way to 1,000 miles, it will be because I chose to invest my time in other areas of my life besides running. I will just have to keep track until I reach the 1,000 mile goal, even if it takes 16 months or something. No matter how long it takes, it will be an accomplishment worth celebrating.
Lastly, I need to give myself permission to celebrate milestones and build on them rather than skipping on to my next to-do. I'm doing awesome! I have lost 5 pounds and turned my diet around. I'm running 9 miles comfortably and if I had to, I could head out and run a half marathon tomorrow with relative ease. {Right now} I am injury free. I need to be able to enjoy today, where I am right now, even if my schedule falls off course. Life as they say is in the journey, not just the destination.

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