After reading two pretty great articles on life-balance I thought I'd respond with some thoughts of my own. The articles are here:
The authors give great insights, essentially about obsession with running. Both articles have an "I was obsessed & now I'm no longer" theme to them. Both authors were forced to stop running (unlike me where I still run), Geoff because of some weird sickness that he can't pinpoint, and Stephanie because of injury. They've found the positives of not being obsessed with running. They have time for other activities. And I've found the same thing. As this is my blog and I get to selfishly talk about myself, I want to jot down my thoughts. Although this blog is public, I still get to spitball my thoughts, and I believe it's healthy to write.
I find a pattern in college endurance athletes. The pattern was stated by Jordan Chang: kids go into freshman year and join our triathlon team. They dig the endurance aspect and the competitiveness and training. Then they get into longer events and get more interested in the distance aspect and less interested in the cut-throat triathlon vibe. They do an ironman or an ultra, then stray away or quit triathlon club to do their own thing. They get interested in other activities: sometimes longer events, sometimes different sports, sometimes art and design (my roommate who doesn't train a lick anymore. We trained together every single day freshman year). The VT tri team is great--I spent a great year and a half there. Just an observation that this progression occurs.
Bingo! That progression is true for me, and it was true for a number of other athletes who have inspired me to go longer. I think people become interested in other things after they get obsessed. Obsession can only last so long. Lets call it infatuation. You know how you get infatuated with another person? Then the one-month or one-year slump comes around because you've figured the other person mostly out? I think these endurance sports are the same way. I'm not saying I was a pro at triathlon, or that I know everything about ultrarunning (I certainly do not!), but our sport is so cool that it's easy to become infatuated with it and I'm no longer a newbie. Newbies sign up for loads of races, buy all the gear, read all the books and blogs, etc. At least I did.
I was definitely infatuated with ultrarunning for the past year and a half. No, this is not a retirement speech, far from. But I think I was so obsessed that it took away from my life balance. Sure I would still party with my pals on the weekends, but the whole while I'd be thinking about running. Really, I couldn't unplug. I checked irunfar and my extensive blog list every day (irunfar is a great website okay). I think obsession can be mistaken for passion. I realized my passion was a little too much when I told my parents a few weeks ago that "I literally don't care about anything other than running." What? That's no balance. I need a hobby. Taking 15 credits of recreation classes and being co president of a club that's basically just friends doing the same thing is not a hard life, it's fucking luxury and actually kind of bullshit. Sorry for the expletives. But it's true. Ultrarunning is mega fun, but I think it might be much better when it is a hobby and not an obsession.
Now that I have a "real" 40-hr work week summer job, I feel like running has taken a back seat in my daily thoughts. Of course I look forward to my run when I get off work, and I enjoy planning how many miles I'm going to do which day this week. Granted I'm only just getting back into the swing of running for my Grindstone 100 buildup and I just took a few weeks really really easy. But I'm not checking irunfar at 9,11am,3 and 7pm every day. I only check it once. I get off facebook at 9 and read until 945 when I go to sleep. Mostly. Then I wake up anywhere between 545-7am. Making the most of my time.
I just needed a change to get away from my obsession, and I think my internship has provided this outlet. An outlet away from what's usually an outlet (running). That means something's not right. Now that I feel like a decent ultrarunner and I don't care about my pace when I'm running, I find myself in a whole different mindset than how I used to look at the sport. I'm not trying to lose weight to get into good running shape anymore--I like where I am. I know I can finish any 50k or 50mile race if I want to. I believe I'm tough enough to run 100 miles. I'm not incredibly nervous for a 50k any longer. I want to do some kind of expedition, something so absurd that I can get stoked every single day. I need to get west...
Anyway, as I write this it kind of sounds like a burnout letter, which I don't think it is. I just think I'm beginning to put running in its place. Like Dakota Jones says, "after all, it's just running." Running now will have a special place in my every day activities, and I will revel in the minutes and hours I get to run. It is not occupying all of my thoughts. I'm curious about science again. I added another major, I'm going to take an extra-extra class out of interest this fall. I'm mentoring baby freshman and working during the fall semester. I'm also training for the 'stone. I'm basically going to have no free time. Which is good I think. I haven't actually been busy since what, high school? Pathetic. I'm finding balance in my life and I'm digging it.
One of my favorite sayings is "stop caring. stop worrying. start doing."
So that's what I've done.
Perhaps this post is a coping mechanism because I'm not in the mountains (when my friends are! FOMO.) and I know I'm not getting in the ideal training for this fall. But I'm not worrying about it. Not right now at least.