Tuesday, June 10, 2014

TriTalk Tuesday: Training / Life Balance

This week's TriTalk Tuesday link-up topic is hysterical.  Training / Life balance.  Not because it's not serious, but because all three of us (Me, Courtney and Cynthia) are all struggling to write about it.  Why?  Because our jobs, our training, our families, and our LIVES are all getting in the way of blogging time!!  I actually told the girls I was going to opt out of this week entirely, but then decided the irony in doing so was just too much.

So let's talk about it.  The balance.  The struggle.  The guilt.  The commitments.  I usually call this Life Tetris, because that's what it feels like - trying to get all the blocks to fit together when they just keep coming faster and faster.  I could give you a hit list of my favorite multi-tasking life "hacks" and how to get it all done, giving the impression that I am Superwoman and never miss a deadline, have last night's dishes in my sink or cut a workout short.  However I think there's enough of that disingenuous drivel out in cyberworld to make all of us feel unnecessarily crummy enough about ourselves already.  Instead I want to talk about how to put this game of tetris in context.

First off, the notion of Anything/Life balance is misleading, because it implies that the "thing" is somehow separate from the rest of your life.  "Work/Life Balance" implies that your job is your job and should be turned off like a switch outside working hours.  No coming home exhausted and cranky after a nine hour board meeting.  No sir.  The phrase "Training/ Life Balance" has similar implications.  In other words, that we should be able to consistently awake at o' dark thirty, do a three hour workout and then continue with our day with no ripple effects.  Dum dee dum dee dum.  No fatigue or consequences here.  Riiiiiight........

There is no "Whatever/Life Balance".  There is just Life.  You get to pick how to live it, and how to feel about it.

So listen.  I love nothing better in the world than to beat myself up.  I work full time, and have at any moment between one and four part-time jobs on top of that (right now that number is three, for those keeping track).  I have two getting-less-small-every-second children, whose extra-curricular activities alone would keep a small army of parents busy.  Doubly so if those parents tried to worry about feeding them all natural meals, instilling perfect manners and moral compasses, and volunteering at all school functions.  

Tonight I attended the end-of-the-year pizza party for my daughter's scout troop.  When the thank-you awards time came around, I was quite literally the only mother in the room not thanked for helping.  Because I didn't.  Not a meeting, not a field trip - not a thing.  Could I feel bad about this?  You betcha.  There's always something to feel bad about....

I also like to make lists.  And schedules.  I love Training Peaks, and my coach has had to remind me on several occasions that my TP schedule is editable, that the little boxes can move and be modified and deleted, and should not be used as a bludgeon, flail, or other implement of torture.

Because that is what guilt is.  Imposed self-torture.  Mommy guilt.  Bad employee guilt.  Bad triathlete guilt.  Bad blogger guilt?  (Now that's a ridiculous category).  Lists and schedules and training plans are great, but life happens, and you must be able to allow it to happen or you will drive yourself crazy.

My coach wrote this to me in an email last week (during one of my life/injury/training plan freakouts).  I thought it was a really powerful statement, and has kind of become a mantra since.  Can you have a mantra after only a week?  

"Outside factors ebb and flow.  Sometimes they interfere but sometimes they let you train nicely.  Right now you are being interfered with.  So don't sweat [your training]"

Yes, that is my coach telling me to chill out three weeks before my first Oly distance race.  (You can totally tell he was an English major in college.  "Ebb and flow!"  Love it.)  When I have to work late, I am being interfered with.  When my son is wrapped around my leg imploring me to not leave for the ride I planned with my training partner, I am being interfered with.  That is ok - because there will also be moments when I'm not.  Like this weekend, when I did manage to seize opportunities to put in three really strong workouts toward my Oly.  Remaining calm, open minded, and flexible is key.  (I can actually hear my coach, my mom, and several friends rolling their eyes as they read that last sentence, since I'm rarely any of those things.  Hey - I'm trying to learn here!!!)

Unless you are a professional, triathlon is supposed to be fun.  It's supposed to enhance your life, not stress you out more.  If it's not fun, chances are you're not doing it right.  I'm not saying that every minute will be fun. Some workouts don't feel good, getting up early is just painful, and you are going to have bad days.  But overall it should be a plus, not a detriment.  Hmm... I think those are actually my coach's words too.... 

See what I did there?  

Contrary to Yoda and every inspirational saying ever pinned on Pinterest, triathlon and life aren't black and white.  There's no such thing as do or don't do.  You don't have control over everything.  There's no such thing as a ten minute ab workout that will give you a washboard stomach in six weeks.  No one actually makes all those natural organic perfect recipes for their angelic gourmand children seven nights a week.  And a week where you actually hit all your workouts in any training plan is a rarity (if you're at all like me).  Embrace it.  The more you can be flexible and loving towards yourself, to seek out activities you truly enjoy, and be grateful and joyful in your training, the less you'll think about "Training/Life Balance".  

It'll just be called "Life".

My life this weekend?  

  • Friday - Work.  Brick workout with the kids in the trail-a-bikes.  15 mile ride, 1 mile run.  Graduation cake for customer
  • Saturday  - one-mile open water swim in 45 minutes.  Teeball game.  Giant rocket ship cake for my son's party.
  • Sunday - 30 mile bike ride with Gypsy.  Just over 2 hours.  Party prep.  Rocketship party for one very happy little dude.  Balance that!!!

Next week's topic, in honor of Courtney's IMCuze 70.3, will be Tapering.


Anthony said...

Wow didn't realize I was that eloquent! Excellently written, glad you didn't skip this one. Looks like you are learning alot more about triathlon life than swim, bike and run.

Maryalicia V. said...

greatw rite up. One day I will do a Tri. right now I have no motivation though, due to not being a strong swimmer. One day!

Cynthia @ You Signed Up For WHAT?! said...

Great points - and you are right, it is supposed to be FUN!!! And wow on your weekend, you rocked it with the rocketship.

Pace of Balance said...

Miranda - I loved this post! So true. Every word. Mommy guilt runs rampant in my head. The best advice is to just stay flexible and accept nothing is going to be perfect, including training.

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