With Jason training for Epicman (a triple Ironman) and me training for a 420 mile bike ride across Florida, life has changed a bit. We spend our weekends training, preparing to train, traveling to train, or recovering from training. As the weeks drag on to months I have began to feel like I am living, eating, and breathing training and my life doesn't feel very balanced.
The struggle to find balance in life is something that almost everyone I know struggles with. People ask me all the time how I fit in all my training. Personally, I think that I have it a lot easier than most. I don't make half the sacrifices that some of my friends make. One friend I know runs from 4:00-7:00 am before her husband goes to work. She once told me "I want my training to impact my family as little as possible". That is one of the most selfless comments that I have ever heard when it comes to training for an endurance event!
I consider myself quite fortunate that I am in a relationship with someone who will never complain about my training. He will also never complain about me being tired from training (mostly because that rarely happens!). But his support is great, and at the same time a challenge because he can handle volumes of training that would put most people into the ground within days. So he is naturally pretty unsympathetic about having to train for long periods of time.
So what exactly is it about my life that's not balanced? Well, I've never been one to require a lot of social interaction, so the isolation of large volume training weekends doesn't bother me much. It's the leaving the house in the dark, riding all day, and coming home after dark that I have struggled with. There is very little balance when your day consists of doing NOTHING other than riding a bike and eating. It's not the volume of training that has gotten me frustrated. My body has adapted quite well. I am training about 8-10 hours more per week than I would for an Ironman, but feel way more energetic. Less intensity definitely makes the training easier on my body. The flip side is that this training is BORING. I figured it was going to be and I was right! Last week I rode 8 hours solo in the Gaps (north Ga mountains). The extended period of isolation wasn't the issue (I barely saw anyone else) it was the total and complete lack of speed or effort that was driving me nuts. If you know me, you know that I like to ride fast. 8 hour rides call for little or no intensity, especially when you are going to do 5+ hours the following day. It never occurred to me how much I enjoy intensity until it was taken away. Training for ultras is mostly psychological in nature in my opinion. Any fool can ride a bike at a really low heartrate. But can you do it from sunup to sundown? When the wind is howling at you and knocks you over? What about when your feet are frozen and you're hungry? That type of training requires something that a high VO2 max and lactate threshold cannot help you with.
I've thought a lot the past several days about my "imbalanced" life. I've thought about my need to spend more quality time with Jason, play with my dogs more, try and actually relax instead of constantly ripping and running from one place to the next. Then I came across this quote that I really like: "The word happiness would lose it's meaning if not balanced by sadness." -Carl Jung. This could also be interpreted as "how would I know what a balanced life felt like if I didn't occasionally let it get off kilter?" Training like this won't last forever. Our races will come and go and we will regain what very little bit of normalcy that we had in our lives. Nothing worth having is easy, and sacrifices made now are part of achieving huge goals later!
In the meantime I only put in two hours of training yesterday. Why? It was date- night OB/Dani style: post gym, still in workout clothes, eating really healthy. It was quality time that was very much needed in our hectic lives.
I want to leave you with one of my favorite authors of ALL TIME! Dr. Seuss. This is from the book :"Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are?"
When you think things are bad,
when you feel sour and blue,
when you start to get mad....
you should do what I do!
Just tell yourself, Duckie,
you're really quite lucky!
Some people are much more...
oh, ever so much more...
oh, muchly much-much more
unlucky than you!
Dr. Seuss is right. I AM lucky! I've got a mind and body that are able to withstand some really crazy stuff and I need to appreciate how many people out there could not do what I am doing. So I am going to be unbalanced, and just hope that I stay upright for the next 4 months!