Doing Enough

I cannot find enough hours in the day lately to do…well, anything. I’ve been busy in my professional and personal lives–though who isn’t?–and while I’m usually able to strike a good balance between the two, lately that’s been more challenging. I’ve had so much going on that I can’t remember the last time I got a full night of sleep, making it even more difficult to find the energy to do the things I want to do outside of work.

While I could talk about how this impacts my life in a bunch of different ways, the biggest source of frustration for me lately has been with working out, or, more specifically, training appropriately for my athletic (i.e.: running) goals. I think part of the problem stems from my current 10K training plan. I haven’t thoroughly analyzed all of my non-height-of-marathon-season weekday runs over the past few years, but from taking  a brief glance at my training log, I’d guess that when it’s not August, my weekday runs average around 30-40 minutes. My 10K training plan, however, has called for runs that take much longer than that (because as you may recall, this training plan goes by time, not distance) – one 60-minute weekday easy run and one 45-minute weekday speedwork run just about every week, plus a 30-minute run, plus a long run that ranged in length depending on where I was in the program. On top of that, I’m also supposed to do two days of 30-45 minutes of strength training.

Honestly, that doesn’t sound like too demanding of a training plan, which is why I chose that one in the first place. I’m deeply unsatisfied with my usual level of strength training and very much want to incorporate more of it into my workout plans, but even with it written into my training plan, I still can’t make it happen. I’ve had such a hard time trying to figure out how to balance running with dance and rock climbing (I haven’t been climbing in nearly a month, which I think goes to show how much I’ve struggled to incorporate all the things I want to do fitness-wise into my routine), and as I’m staring down marathon season, I’m getting more and more stressed out by how on earth I’m ever going to make everything work.

Maybe I spend too much time on the Internet reading about how other people work out, but it seems to me like everything’s telling me if I want to get faster, I need to strength train more to get stronger, and run more to become a better runner. I desperately want to get faster–a lot faster, ideally–and while I know my current, ahem, penchant for chocolate chips and the ramifications such a penchant has on my body isn’t doing me any favors in the getting faster department, I also never feel like I’m putting in enough work to help me reach my goals. But I don’t know if that’s actually the case, or if I’m getting too caught up in the comparison game online to see anything clearly.

I want to do more strength training, but I don’t know how to do that without compromising my running. I want to do more running, but I don’t know how to do that without getting hurt. I need to do my PT exercises, but I cannot for the life of me get into the habit of doing them. I want to do more yoga and more rock climbing, but I don’t know how to fit those into my schedule on top of everything else without routinely doing two-a-days, and I don’t feel like I’m at an athletic level–or that I even aspire to be at an athletic level–where two-a-days are necessary. I’m looking to (minimally) take seven minutes off my marathon time, not win the Olympics. I also have a job, and a commute, and friends, and chores, and other non-workout things that take up my free time, and don’t particularly want to dedicate all of my spare time to exercise.

I also don’t know if I’m being completely ridiculous. All of my recent race times have blown my expectations (based on my training) out of the water. I haven’t felt like I’ve done sufficient training since marathon season ended last October, but I’ve consistently had good races, so maybe I’m making mountains out of molehills…or just running in ideal weather, which certainly hasn’t hurt. And maybe it doesn’t really matter if I don’t feel like my training is good enough if my results says otherwise, but it sure would be nice to be able to reflect on a week of training and be happy with what I’ve done instead of constantly beating myself up over what I haven’t done.

I don’t really know how to make this better without quitting my job and starting to train full time (which OBVIOUSLY is not going to happen, not now, or ever), and quite honestly, I don’t know if that would change anything, either. I clearly have a lot of self-doubt in terms of my training and abilities, and I’m not all that confident that more training is the cure. But I also don’t know what is the cure to that self-doubt. I don’t know how to convince myself that what I’m doing is fine, because it doesn’t feel fine at all. I don’t know how to feel okay not doing it all, because I feel like everything’s telling me that I DO have to do it all, and it is (quite clearly) wearing on me.

Usually, I try to wrap these self-indulgent woe-is-me sort of posts up with a nice bow to conclude things, but I don’t have a conclusion this time. All I have is a lot of frustration – frustration I hope works itself out sooner rather than later.

Has anyone else ever felt this way?

12 thoughts on “Doing Enough

  1. Have you tried yoga sculpt at corepower or orange theory fitness? Both of those classes while an hour long would be great cross training, orange theory will have some running, but also row and strength. In the past I did the New Rules of Lifting for Women book, and that was good, although a little too weight focused for my liking, I’d rather do a strength fitness class.

    • I haven’t done either of those, no, mostly because I don’t want to spend all the extra $$$ to take the classes. My gym has a running/strength class once a week, but the timing is pretty tough for me to get to work on time (like nearly impossible tough). But maybe I’ll see how marathon season shapes up, and try to pop into the class once or twice and see what happens.

  2. I relate to this past 1,000,000%. Sometimes I’m reluctant to post my training plans because then friends leave comments suggesting I add more cross-training, strengthwork, speedwork, yoga, miles, you name it. I know they mean well, but there’s only so many hours in the day. Heck, they don’t even have to suggest all these things – I already know my own training limitations. Like you, I also work, commute, and have other commitments outside of training. But at the same time, I try to tell myself I’m lucky that I am able to train even as much as I do. I’ve got friends who have kids and are in disbelief that I’ve got enough time to do double-digit training runs on the weekend, et al., since they are always playing mom-taxi, etc. I guess it’s all about perspective, right?

    I’m learning that I really need to pick one major fitness goal to focus on at a time, because there just isn’t enough time to focus on multiple big goals. So now I’m trying to be comfortable with rotating goals every few months to keep things well-rounded. It’s a super difficult balance, though, I know. Seeing the flying rainbows everyone else always seems to have with their training achievements definitely makes it darned-near impossible to avoid the comparison game, too. So in short – I totally get where you are coming from!!!

    • Thanks so much for this comment. Sometimes it’s just nice to know you’re not the only one who feels a certain way! I like your idea of rotating goals and just focusing on one thing at a time. It’s so, so, so easy to get caught up in this mentality of being the best athlete ever, or being in “the best shape of your life” (that’s one that really kicks me in the gut when I see other people talking about that, because I haven’t been in the best shape of my life since I was like…12. Haha.), and honestly, that’s just not feasible when you have a life outside of training! And I think I WANT to have a life outside of training! I think I’d become very resentful about training if it was the only thing I did with my spare time. But that doesn’t make it easier to let go of that wish to be the best athlete, etc.

  3. I think this is fairly common for us runners who have a less flexible schedule. When you only have so much free time, it can be hard to fit in a variety of exercise along with other responsibilities and social time. Since I moved and am no longer paying for a gym membership, I’ve been using RunnersConnect with great results, in fact, I PRed at a 5k last weekend after years of feeling like my running was stagnant. I also elect for them to add running-specific strength training into my plan (hip exercises, agility, general strength, core, etc) which I find I prefer over lifting at the gym which can add bulk and detract from speed/efficiency if you are not in a cutting phase. It’s actually a super friendly community and the coaches are great about switching around your schedule for life events and unforeseen circumstances. It might be worth looking into and they offer a two week free trial!

  4. You know I’m all about corepower, but even with that, I’ve had a hard time fitting in everything I want to do. Running, while I’m cleared, has taken the back burner. I just think it’s really hard to balance everything as an adult. I’d love to get faster, but I also love sugar too much to really make that a priority… Balance is so much harder when you have a job, responsibilities, finances, social life, etc.

    • Yes, yes, yes (and the sugar thing – you’re the best. You get me, and I love that 🙂 ). You only have so many free hours in a day, you know? And it’s really tough to figure out how to prioritize those few hours so you’re able to do everything you want to do (or feel like you “need” to do to be able to do what you want to do well – like strength training, or whatever). Only one thing can be #1, as redundant as that sounds, but it’s totally true – you can’t pour 100% of yourself into multiple kinds of training, or multiple ways of spending your free time, or whatever. Something has to give. But it’s really hard to accept that, since it’s very counterintuitive to the whole “you can have it all” mentality that I think is really common.

  5. Yes, yes, and yes. Unfortunately. I would really love to get all my training in and you know do well at my job, have a clean house, have meals to eat and fresh food around and have time to spend with my husband, but I just don’t think all of those things are possible. Maybe if I didn’t need to sleep 8 hours a day or commute 1+ hour each day it would be easier, but that is just not realistic.
    It is hard not to play the comparison game especially when each week is a struggle to get x, y, and z done and friend B is rocking all her workouts. If you figure out the cure for self-doubt please let me know. I am really good at self-sabotage and setting myself up for failure mostly because I think I need an excuse when things don’t go my way.
    Can you modify your training plan? Maybe drop down to only 2 or 3 runs a week. I think that if you want to make time for climbing because you LIKE it then you should! For me, doing other things that I enjoy usually leads to less burnout on running. Also I am lucky if I do like one strength training workout a month. I just don’t make it a priority. If I do 10 minutes worth of PT exercise in a week, I call that good.

  6. Maybe the answer is not to do more, but to just keep training consistently at the level you are currently at. A base of two years of consistent running is much better than a base of just a year.

  7. I felt that way when we were getting ready to sell our townhome and then when we moved to our new home, and still, now – there is so much house stuff to do that I don’t get to work out as much as I want to.

    But seriously, don’t compare to other people! Everyone is doing their own thing, and something is always better than nothing! And training is different for everyone – only you will be able to figure out how to get faster, through experimentation! I hope you find a way you can fit the things in you want to do for fun, and that you feel you need to do to perform at the level you want.

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