At work we talk about work life balance, this nirvana state where you have the balance between your work life and personal life that suits you. In that state you will be perfectly productive while at work because your life feels balanced and you know you have the time and energy to do the things in your personal life you enjoy. Of course it’s not that simple but the principle is something I do agree with, I know I work better when I feel I have the right balance and the energy I’m putting into work (and is being asked of me) is in balance. I’ve realised to my cost in January that the principle also applies to running and the balance between running and the rest of your life. That you can’t commit to an intensive training plan with all the energy (mentally and physically) that requires if the rest of your life has significant demands to. It just doesn’t work, something has to break and likely that thing is you.
I started this year with my training ramping up nicely and hitting all my planned sessions, cruising along nicely in my training for this weeks Quadzilla. I had that great feeling of being tired from training but feeling strong and positive. Then I changed jobs at work, which as I’m sure many of you know means trying to ramp into a new job while still doing the old one as they haven’t replaced you. So busy. One of my biggest training weeks coincided with this change and featured 26 hours of meetings. 26 hours! Almost all of which was of course sitting, god I hate sitting. The combination of pushing my body running and then sitting all day was clearly a recipe for disaster and the following week I spent hobbling around with a painful lower back and hips. Not a good place to be 3 weeks before a multi day race.
Thankfully a combination of lots of stretching and being very proactive in getting walking breaks in during the day seem to have done the trick. In particular this exercise which was recommended to me on Twitter by MalvernRunner has made a real difference, so simple but opens up your lower back really well. I’ve also found this yoga work out very effective, I like that it does some strength work as well as stretching.
So what I have I learnt from all this? Firstly that planning my training calendar is just part of the process, I also need to manage my work life as much as I can to fit with the peak weeks. Try not to commit to lots of work when I know I need to put more energy into training and if that’s not possible find a way to adapt my training schedule. Secondly that stretching is for life and not just when injured, do it consistently and that will make a big difference. Thirdly that I really do need to find ways to sit less, I could spend every night stretching but if I then go and sit for 8 hours my hips and legs are going to tighten up quickly.Fourthly and finally make time to recover, not running for 3 days isn’t going to make me instantly unfit.
What do you do to keep a balance between running and life? How do you train for a goal race without breaking down because of an imbalance like I did?