The past week was a bear and my running has suffered, as a result. Working 14-hours days between two jobs has many drawbacks, and the hit my running schedule takes is only one of them, of course.
The running, though, continues to be such an accurate barometer for the rest of my life in so many ways. I managed to squeeze in a quick 4-miler last Monday between jobs and then didn’t have time for another run until Friday.
The plan that night was a 5-miler, but I had to add 45 seconds to my mile pace, barely made it through the first three miles anyway, and then, finally, gave up after just four. I was so exhausted when I stepped off the treadmill that I was a little light-headed. I totally skipped the weights work and the short swim I had planned and went home instead. I walked in my front door before 9pm, but half an hour later I could barely keep my eyes open.
Unresponsive workouts like that are typically a sign of over-training. Well, I’m under-training with my running right now (in a big way), but I’m definitely overtraining on LIFE. I’m badly fatigued – just as much as I would be after a 60 or 70-mile week. I’m not as young as used to be. Burning the candle at both ends turns into burning myself out a lot quicker that it used to.
The reality I’ve been facing, though, is I’m only doing this to myself. I don’t work 2 jobs because I need the money. The income from my day-job supports me just fine. The second job I pursue because I have a passion for it, even though it cannot support me on its own. (If it could, my life would be a little simpler.) But I’m fast reaching an age when I must seriously question if the return value I get from that pursuit can still outweigh the cost it extracts from my quality of life.
There are other things in my life that are very important to me now. Running is certainly one of those things. If one pursuit begins to override and erode all the other things that are valuable to me in my life, is it still worth it? Finding the balance is always a struggle and there are only certain things I can control. But whenever the balance slips so much that even the running time I can squeeze in is such low quality, it forces me to confront these difficult questions all over again.
Luckily, after this week, my schedule will start to re-balance again. The first big race of my season will be the Chicago Lakefront 50K near the end of March. I don’t have much time to build my mileage back up to where it needs to be. I expect my first road marathon will be in Kenosha again, at the beginning of May. I’ve been doing a lot of quick 4-milers over the last month, and though my overall mileage has been low, I’ve been encouraged by the quick paces I’ve been able to run at in those shorter sessions.
If I can just win the struggle to find training time, I remain optimistic about 2011.