I was part of a really interesting conversation the other day.
As you may know, every Wednesday I jump on a video chat with a couple of great running coaches (Laura Norris and Nora Bird) and we talk shop about our business and try to help each other be more successful.
This week’s discussion centered around something I’d never really thought of before but makes total sense.
The fall being the metaphorical perfect storm of running, life, and everything in between.
A Perfect Storm
As I’ve been known to say on occasion, life is always going to life.
What I mean, of course, is that there are always going to be things that we have to deal with in our lives.
Work. Family. Friends. Social calendar. Training.
If you’re anything like me, you are almost constantly juggling all of these aspects of life (and at least a half dozen others) in order to make things work on a daily basis.
When one area of life throws you a little curveball and requires a bit more attention, you adjust the others in order to make it all work.
But what happens when several areas of life are conspiring to create chaos in your life?
How the Fall Creates Chaos
So how can the fall create a perfect storm?
Let’s break down a few possibilities, shall we?
So Much for the Routine
School getting back in session may be one of, if not the, biggest routine disruptors that exist.
Even if you don’t have kids, the start of the new school year can still disrupt your routine just from how the traffic patterns change related to school being back in session.
But for those of us with kids, our routines are completely blown up and a new normal must be created.
Even if your kids are going to the same school they went to last year, there may be new start times, different extra curriculars, and who knows what else that may change up your routine.
If your kids have moved on to a new school. from elementary to middle school for instance, things are even more different.
And if you now have one kid in elementary school and another in middle school?
If you’re training for a fall marathon in October or early November, the month of September is usually going to see a pretty stead increase to your training volume.
Your long runs are getting longer as you build toward your goal race, and some of your mid-week runs may get a little longer as well.
With an increase in mileage and nailing some key workouts, taking care of your body becomes paramount.
Because when it comes to running injuries…
In order to stay healthy, you know what you need to do.
Get to bed on time. Do the necessary recovery work. Eat well.
Basically, address all the little things to help you stay healthy as race day approaches.
No matter how much of an introvert you are, we all have a variety of relationships in our lives.
Spouses/partners. Parent/kids. Extended family. Work. Social.
Every relationship that we have requires a certain amount of time and effort to maintain.
Some relationships are easier to maintain than others, and some relationships are more important to us than others, but all relationships require time and energy to maintain.
No matter how much I claim to be an introverts introvert and would prefer to be alone instead of around people, the fact of the matter is we are social creatures.
And social creatures require relationships to be maintained.
The Formation of the Perfect Storm
When a confluence of factors come together, a perfect storm can form.
A change in the daily routine requires you to adjust when you are able to train. As your mileage increases, you have to spend more time training and taking care of your body which reduces the amount of time and energy you can invest in relationship maintenance. And if your relationships start to fail…
Surviving the Perfect Storm
If you see a perfect storm forming on the horizon, or find yourself in the eye of the storm, how do you survive? How do you make it through to the other side in one piece?
As per usual, there aren’t any silver bullets that will solve everything. But if you have a trick or two up your sleeve, you can turn a perfect storm into one that isn’t too hard to navigate at all.
Schedule Like a Fiend
It’s hard enough to find time in the day for all the things when the water is flat and the sailing is smooth. But when there’s a storm rolling in?
You have to schedule the things that matter most to you, or something is almost assuredly going to fall through the cracks.
Work stuff. Family stuff. Running stuff.
Try to leave some gaps in the schedule to allow you to adjust on the fly as needed, but make sure the important things are on the schedule.
Yes, that includes your training schedule. But it also includes time to help your kids with the homework and quality time with you partner.
Schedule your priorities and then stick to the schedule.
This is one of my favorite games to play with myself.
Obviously, we only have 24 hours in each day and there is no way to add another hour here and there.
But for most of us, there are things we can do to cut down on the time we waste every day, a few minutes at a time.
And while a few minutes may not seem like much, a few minutes a handful of times per day every day adds up over time.
Here are some easy ways to invent time.
While your kid is at soccer practice or dance class, instead of shooting the shit with the other parents or mindlessly scrolling on social media, why not get some miles in?
Or maybe you can use social media strategically during this time. Instead of scrolling mindlessly, why not be intentional to reach out to friends/family to help maintain your relationships?
Is there any chance you could meet your partner at a nearby restaurant for a glass of wine and some adult conversation with no kids around?
All of those options, and dozens of other possibilities, would be examples of creating time instead of killing it while you wait.
Focus on What Really Matters
When the perfect storm is approaching, or it’s already on you, you realize that certain things don’t matter as much as you thought they did.
And running may be one of those things that, at least in the short term, doesn’t matter as much.
If that’s the case, it’s ok.
You’re not less of a runner because you deprioritize running while you’re riding out the storm.
Ideally, you can schedule your life and invent enough time in your day to stay on track with your training and nail the race that is coming up.
But if you can’t?
Eventually, the perfect storm will pass and it’ll be easier to keep all the plates spinning at once.
But if push comes to shove, it’s better to take a couple of less important plates out the equation instead of running the very risk that you’ll drop all of them at once.
When Your in the Midst of a Perfect Storm, How Do You Stay Afloat?
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