Life has been throwing me a lot of curveballs lately as I attempt to take on some pretty significant fitness goals. Lots of international travel amongst other significantly schedule impacting events have made finding time to complete long runs and other training pretty much impossible as of late. Big goals have faded to the background as my most salient goal these days is to get enough sleep to make it through the next day. Things have just been a tiny bit crazy. And I have to face the facts that I’m dealing with a few limitations these days when it comes to capacity for training.
Unfortunately, dealing with limitations has recently equated into a lot of excuse making on my part. I don’t know how it happened to this girl who used to barely be able to skip a workout day without feeling antsy. One day I’m just a little too tired to get up. Another day the lure of happy hour keeps me from the gym, just this one time. And then another. Jet lag keeps me in bed for a few extra hours. The junk food flows and it’s free. And the dangerous cycle begins – one skipped workout becomes several. Good nutrition is neglected. And I’m definitely not feeling any better!
It came to a head this last weekend when I went to a trail race and ended up cutting my distance by a significant margin for no particularly significant reason – driven more by excuses (I’m tired. I fell and sprained my ankle and cut my palm but know I’m fine. I’m bored. These hills are hard!). Recognizing this and turning back anyways was a hard moment for me. I realized that yes, I wasn’t in the best place to complete a 25K trail run up a mountain – I had just returned from an international trip featuring hard work, little sleep, poor nutrition, and a hellish >24 hour journey home – I was in no place to wake up early, after a fitful night of sleep, and rock a 25K trail run. There ARE limitations. But that does NOT make it okay to make excuses.
Life realities mean that this might not be the best time to run 80 miles a week, wake up at 5AM every day to train even when overseas, or be get into the most amazing, strongest, fastest shape of my whole life. And that’s okay – there are different seasons in life. I need to respect myself and not beat myself up about not having four hours a day to train.
With that being said – it’s time to put an end to making excuses. I cannot do everything, but I can still do something. I may not be able to spend eight hours on the trails every weekend, but I CAN get in some short runs in Golden Gate Park before work. I may not be able to set a new personal distance record any time soon, but I CAN work on less time-intensive goals like speedwork and shaving a minute off my 5K time. I may not be able to be the best rested person in the world, but I CAN be more efficient with my time and stop wasting it watching TV or worrying about my to-do list without actually accomplishing anything on it. I may not be able to bike everywhere and swim in the bay – yet – but I CAN join a gym with a pool and spin class to get a jump on tri training (check!). I may not be setting PRs this spring, but I CAN push myself in other ways.
We all have days, weeks, or months that sticking to a plan and working towards a goal is harder than normal – even seemingly impossible. And that’s okay – it’s called being human. It’s important to figure out what motivates you, to pick smart goals, and to surround yourself with friends and other athletes to support you and encourage you – even when it’s tough. I’ll be resolving to take my own advice – to carve out time to train, to utilize my friends and support system in achieving my goals, and remembering that so often, the first step really is the hardest.