Finding a Life-Running Balance

Few people who run are unsure how they feel about it. A small percentage of runners absolutely hate it, yet continue putting themselves through it for the sake of health or weight management. The rest of us do it because we love it. We love the way it makes us feeling while running, after running, and sometimes even just by thinking about running. It’s a release from stress, a charging of our batteries, and a fun way to keep our minds and bodies healthy. For this later group of runners, it’s really not too hard to see why it becomes such an important part of our lives, and why it becomes an answer to so many things. However, like all good things, running is best approached with balance.

For those of you with an imbalance between time dedicated to running versus dealing with the daily issues of the rest of your life – or even to those headed in that direction – here are five tips on maintaining a life-running balance.

Limit two-a-day workout to two or fewer days per week. Its great that you’re dedicated enough to be willing to workout out morning and evening every day, but unless you are a professional athlete, a college scholarship running breaking records left and right, an Ironman, or training to live in the woods infested with bears, wildcats, and other fast predators, training that hard will likely do more harm than good. Training twice a day everyday is one of the best ways to break your body down and find out what ‘total burnout’ truly feels like. Your body needs rest to cover – mentally and physically. Twice-a-day workouts also take up a significant amount of time that you should probably either be spending with loved ones, working, or getting some much-needed sleep.

Ask yourself – and answer honestly – if you’re still running for the right reasons. Are you running to maintain a healthy weight? Set a good example for your kids? As a healthy stress-reducer? Or are you running for bragging rights on Facebook? Are you striving for an unhealthy weight? Are you spending more waking hours pounding the pavement than with your family?  If you’re answering yourself honestly, it will be apparent if you’re still running to be a better version of yourself – or if you’re running away from a bigger problem.

Accept that some workouts get missed. People get sick, work runs late, traffic doesn’t care about your schedule, and weather sometimes doesn’t listen to your prayers. A variety of unavoidable particularities of life sometimes get in the way of a planned workout happening. This happens to everyone at some point and is just part of being human. A runner with life-running balance understands this and goes with the flow, accepting that some missed workouts can be made up later in the week, while others are just missed for a really good reason.

Run to live, don’t live to run. Running can certainly be a big part of your life – passions usually are – but it shouldn’t be your only focus. If you’re cutting work to get in extra miles, missing engagements with friends or family because it would interfere with your workout schedule, or denying yourself some of your own birthday cake, you need to take a step back and reassess. Running is a wonderful sport with many benefits, but it should be helping you be a better you, not causing you to loose touch with other important parts of your life.

Never forget that running is fun. Chances are, that if you’re a runner, you’ve unlocked the secret of making running enjoyable. When running is satisfying, you’ll want to be out there; you won’t mind the harder workouts; and you’ll feel better afterward. If running has become a chore and not something you look forward to anymore, it is time for a break. Whether you need a couple of days, a couple of weeks, or its time to find a new passion, you owe it to yourself to keep healthy living fun.

By Audra Rundle