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Your Life and the Marathon: Finding Balance

by Karl Gruber
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When I worked at a running store, I had a co-worker who ran at least 100 miles per week for 52 weeks in a row—now that’s a lot of post workout ice baths. I thought that was crazy, and that’s saying a lot coming from a guy who once ran 52 marathons in 52 weeks.  

However, when I think of how this guy committed his life to running at a high level for such a long period of time, I tip my hat to him. Even more, I admire him for somehow finding the balance in his work, marriage and daily commitments to make it all happen. As with anything in life, your decision to train for a half or full marathon requires times, effort and commitment. It also requires finding a happy balance in your daily life to make it all work.

You don’t have to commit to running 100 miles a week — unless you’re an elite athlete of course — but the fact that you have decided to train for a half or full marathon means that you need to figure out how to make it successfully happen and maintain a good balance that keeps all the pistons of your life firing as smoothly as possible. 

“Long distance running and endurance sports require sacrifice, compromise, support and encouragement, especially when one partner is an avid runner and/or triathlete and the other is more recreational.” Run Ladylike

For example, you’ll want to maintain healthy relations with your spouse or significant other while you’re out there at 5:30 p.m. cranking out another 10 miler. And if your partner is not a runner, remember that he or she may not always understand why you need to do another run and can’t help them prepare dinner or attend an event. “Oh dear, did I mention that the kid’s teacher wants us to meet with her at 6 o’clock tomorrow night?” You may be nodding your head in agreement and wincing because this scenario is a little too familiar, but you must realize that it is essential to find a balance between your running and life responsibilities.

Finding balance between marathon training and your relationship is not the only thing in your life you need to worry about. 

If you are one of the many runners who get their mileage in before your day starts, one of the biggest issues can be your energy level. Lay down a hard 8 miler prior to starting work or attending classes later in the day can be harder than you might think. While you may feel energized and ready to take on the world after your morning run, you may find yourself stifling a few yawns and your energy lagging come 2:00 p.m. While many turn to copious amounts of coffee or amped-up energy drinks, the smarter strategy is plenty of hydration, intelligent eating throughout the day and quick cat nap if possible — like conking out in your car during your lunch break — to maintain your energy level. 

Also, you will want to get enough rest at night. Of course that sounds great, but you may be thinking, “Yeah right! Not happening in my life!” The bottom line is this: you simply have to do the best you can. Even though these recommendations may not seem possible, it’s worth the effort to try to integrate them into your daily routines as much as possible. 

I know a former elite marathon runner who qualified for and competed in two U.S. Olympic Trials. During training, he somehow successfully ran over 100 miles a week while working full-time to sell cars and being married! This proves that finding balance may not always seem practical, but it is possible.

Many non-runners already have ridiculous amounts of stress and chaos in their lives, but as I’ve discussed in my previous blogs, running is a huge factor in creating a healthier, happier balance in your life physically, and even more importantly, mentally and emotionally. Go for a long training run, and as you meet those, you may find you are much more prepared to adequately handle the daily pressures of relationships, family, and work or school because of the calming, stress-reducing effects of running.

“When you run, you tend to not only be but also feel healthier. As the saying has it, ‘you’re only as healthy as you feel.’ So, when you meet your goals and destinations, you get a sense of fulfillment and productivity, and all of this will also boost your confidence.” – Blerina Klemendi, “Running: The Physical & Mental Benefits Running Provides” 

If you can create a nice, workable balance between running and your life, it will ultimately  help you to more calmly, objectively and joyfully deal with the daily pressures and responsibilities of life.

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