Thursday, June 9, 2011

Work/Run/Life Balance

Shirt by me (available here). Photo by Rick Gaston.

The memory of my crazy racing schedule this spring is starting to fade. The fatigue is gone, the legs rested and I am back to running. My next "A" race is not until September, so while I am doing some very hard specific work (like Wednesday tempo or hill workouts with the fast boys), I am also taking the opportunity to spend a significant amount of time on the trails, go on adventures and pace friends and family as they pursue their race goals. Sure I have a training schedule, yes I am working quite hard but something is different. Back when I was training for Houston and LA, I went to a place in my training I had never been before, pushed in a way I wasn't sure I was capable of and achieved a hard fought for goal. It was an amazing experience. But I realized one thing about myself:

I cannot exist on a day to day basis that way. I cannot be single minded about a running goal. Moreover, I will not. That is just not how I roll. 

What I mean is, during that time period I spent a lot of time contemplating whether or not I wanted to really make a go at being the best marathoner I can be. I definitely made the move in the right direction and look forward to continuing to make strides and get faster. I fully plan on showing up at the trials ready to rock. But I am not all in, not right now. To be that person, that runner, I would have to give up too much. Or at least more than I am willing to.

I have come full circle on my thought process about the runner I want to be. When I decided to run my first ultra back in 2006, it was because I did not want to center my running and life around the pursuit of an (ultimately) arbitrary goal of a specific marathon time. In the grand scheme of life, it doesn't matter at all. Not even a little bit. I didn't want to make something like that my focus. So I started ultrarunning and connected to a deeper, more essential part of my running. Sure, I have goals for ultras. Yes, I like to be the best that I can be. But ultimately in ultrarunning, there is no single quantitative measure of things like there is in road marathoning.

Photo by Pedro Martinez

Ultrarunning, with the occasional road marathon splashed in there for a challenge, is ONE part of my life, it is not the only part. When I look at elite level marathoners, I see a single-mindedness that is a central theme. By necessity, their lives are centered around their running. I have entertained the thought many a time of having this kind of life but when it comes right down to it: it is not for me. That is not who I want to be.

Who I want to be is a healthy, happy, well rounded individual. I want to be a rockstar business owner that makes peoples lives better through healthy food. I want to be a good girlfriend, sister, daughter, friend, cousin, and mentor.  I want to be an adventurer, a speed demon, a downhill bomber, a ninja, a unflappable pacer and CR breaker. I want to get lost in the woods and test myself with crazy track repeats. I want to laugh with friends over an amazing meals and grow, learn and be balanced. Balanced. That is who I want to be. I have always balked at defining myself or labeling myself, but this is one label I would happily take on. As I get older, I realize that self-definition for me is no longer a way to seek out who I am like it was when I was younger, it is a way to express who I am.

Balanced. Life is too short and to precious to be anything but.


  1. I enjoyed this post. I too was striving for a definable marathon goal (olympic trials qualifier) and put so much effort and sacrifice into it. Things didn't work out in the end and finally my wife put a stop to my obsessiveness...but that running passion doesn't leave. I've transfered to ultras as a way to continue running, continue pushing incredibly hard, continue suffering, but doing so in a way that allows for more margin of error, more leeway in training and more overall excitement and spontaneity. Being able to continue running hard and yet feeling so much less stress has been quite a surprise in this transition. It's good to hear you verbalize the same. Keep keepin on.

  2. Is there a "Will run from Brussels sprouts" shirt? It's one of only three foods I won't eat (liver and durian are the others).

  3. I appreciated this post, Devon.

    During the spring I ran the R2R2R and Miwok within three weeks of each other, took a week off, and have been training hard for the TRT 100 since. I've definitely had a few moments lately when running seems to have taken over a bit, I start to love it less, and then even to question why I'd willingly submit to running 100 miles in the Sierra. Your post is a good reminder that there's a "middle way" where ultrarunning (however much we love it) is all the more valuable when it's part of a bigger and more balanced picture -- so, thanks for that.

    BTW, I will run for kale juice.


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