Just as things were ramping up with my marathon training, winding down with triathlon training, and coming to an end with my academics, things took an interesting turn at my new full time job that totally consumed me.
I have always misunderstood what people meant by not having the time to pursue a hobby or a healthier lifestyle. It is difficult enough to manage your schedule. Something to consider — I learned this from Tony Schwartz, the CEO of The Energy Project — is that what you really have to do is manage your energy levels.
It seems pretty straightforward, right? You can only do as much stuff as your energy allows. Yet, we dictate our lives with arbitrary deadlines, false aspirations, and on a time cycle that is not really calibrated to our natural circadian rhythm. What to do?
I did what most normal people would do. I skipped my training in favor of dealing with some of the immediate stressors that were facing me. Instead of helping, it actually hurt quite a bit. I was not nearly as productive, my attitude was perma-cranky, I was consistently tired and depressed, and I fell behind during one of the most crucial training months.
Each weekday and weekend would go by where I began tabulating how much time I was losing and how far it was setting me back from my goals. A long run missed here, a group session missed there. I began missing 13 milers, 16 milers, and eventually I missed by 20 miler three times. It was demoralizing and worrisome until one day, I gave myself an ultimatum. No matter what I had planned that week or weekend, no matter how stressed I was feeling, I would get my 20 miler in.
That was three days ago, one full week before my first marathon. By the time I was done running errands and procrastinating, it was already 6 oclock. A long run meant braving the dark streets all alone on a rainy and freezing Sunday evening. No matter what, I had to get the twenty miler in, so i had to make a tough decision.
I headed towards the gym. Thats right…I completed my twenty mile long run on a treadmill. It was less than ideal but it would have to do. In an effort not to psych myself out I told myself that I would complete it in five mile stretches with breaks in between. I was armed with my GU gels and nuun tabs. My iPod was charged and my phone was beside me, chirping with motivational messages from my significant other and RunKeeper friends. I took it step by step, mile by mile, and finally caught up to that elusive twenty miler. It felt great!