Work, Run, Repeat.
If I had a superpower, it would be the ability to control my energy levels at all times with just one thought. This idea came to me on a zombie-like 6:00 a.m. morning run, when I felt like I was sleepwalking and wondering how I would make it through an entire 9:00-5:00 workday and then muster up the energy for an evening event across town. I thought how convenient it would be to have the power to wake up feeling immediately energized, focused and fully present, then power through the day and when I’m ready and fall fast asleep right when my head hits the pillow.
Working full-time and running is hard (oh, and did I mention family?)--but working full-time and training to run FAST is even harder. The floodgates of good and bad stress are opened and cumulative fatigue is inevitable - I learned this really quickly along with a crash course in time management and self-awareness. To compensate for not having my super power of energy control, I’ve developed a few strategies that help me keep going:
When I make a promise, a plan, or a commitment to myself – I keep it! I do everything in my power to follow through, even when it’s the last thing I want to do. When I consistently show up, little by little I become more empowered, motivated and confident. Keeping it real and keeping it flexible are required in this strategy.
Keeping it real. I’ve learned that honesty is the best policy, especially when making promises to myself. My strategy is to list out all the things I want to get accomplished in the week and choose the top 5-10 that I commit to doing within that week. It can be as big as finishing a marathon or as small as flossing your teeth every day. Regardless, I write them all down, choose a few, commit, and the rest will roll over to the next week when I do it all again.
Keeping it flexible. The promises and commitments I make don’t always play out as anticipated. Remembering that there are many ways to the same end grants me permission to do the best I can with what I have that day. I ask myself, “is it because I just don’t want to, or is it that I shouldn’t?” If you’re honest with yourself, your intuition will tell you which one it is.
Find people to share the experience with
The Raleigh Distance Project has had a deep impact on my life since moving to Chapel Hill. Each and every woman motivates me and holds me accountable to do the work and have fun in the process. Without them and the community they’ve introduced me to, I wouldn’t be able to sustain this constant grind of running and working. When I found other women who were in the same (running--ha) shoes as me, it normalized the process and demonstrated that a work-life/run-life balance is achievable.
Having positive conversations between mind and body
I subconsciously think of my mind and my body as two separate entities. We’ve heard it countless times: ‘You can do it if you set your mind to it!’ but what if your body says ‘nope, not happening!’ then what? I spent a period of time being at odds with my body for not running as fast as my mind knew it could. When I realized this cognitive dissonance, I changed the conversations in my head. When I’m tired on a run, hurting in a race, or struggling in a workout, I have a conversation in my head where my mind tells my legs, “thank you for the feedback,” and kindly asks if they have it in them to work harder and push longer. And my legs often talk back with “hell no!” or “yes, but can we please rest as soon as possible!!” or something in between – I guess this is my way of listening to my body.
Cut yourself some slack!
This one is foundational for all the others. Don’t take yourself too seriously and give yourself grace. By not giving yourself grace you’re allowing stress and anxiety to steal the joy of the moment. Make promises and commit to those promises, but have the courage to say no or to stop. During the conversations in your head, try to think positively but remember that everyone has insecurities and falls victim to negative self-talk, it will happen often and you’re not alone. During the workouts and runs with your friends, it’s okay to slow down the pace knowing a slower pace is what’s best for you. I am hard on myself and strive for greatness and continually fall short. By giving myself permission to be imperfect, I am a better friend, wife, teammate, and overall person because I am not putting my worth in distractions that don’t matter.