Seeking balance

Posted on April 22, 2013


albert,einsten,balance,bicycle,life,quotes-a4fcba3800b86b899224543d3d30937d_hI recently put digit to keyboard to contribute to a book being written in the UK about ultra running.  The author sent me a list of categories and I was to choose a couple and write my views on them. This I did … it was an enjoyable exercise to say the least as despite my having read so much, I found it beneficial to put myself on the spot so to speak, in order to identify my true stance.

Last Saturday, I published my reply to the Eating & drinking on the move topic in my Haribo & h2o post and today, my words re the ever-elusive Work-Life-Running Balance one. Ask yourself what your thoughts would be on the same topics … or better still, put them on paper too … I’ve no doubt during our lives as runners, remembering our experiences and viewpoints will come in handy … and as we’re all aware by now, running and writing as individual activities are marvellous therapies. Bring them together and you wonder why we don’t all prescribe!

Work-Life-Running Balance

As most runners will testify, the question of balance is a precarious one for the type-A personalities amongst us. I mean, the very nature of our sport means that we need to spend a long time running and whilst some say, we can always make time for what we want to in life, the reality is that we only have 24 hours in a day and sacrifices will always have to be made. So ask yourself, what are you willing to sacrifice?  What compromises are you prepared to make? What are the gains and losses to be had?

When it comes to work, I’m very fortunate in that I’ve created a career as a freelance writer and can easily adapt my schedule to fit in with my running and other adventures. But I also have no dependents. Those with family to support are better off with the stability of a fixed income. Freelancing can be stressful! As for those with ‘proper’ jobs, I guess it’s important to define your personal boundaries in terms of commitment to the job and then stick with them diligently. No one ever dies wishing they’d spent more time at their desk. Remember too that the happier and more well-rounded an individual you are, the better your performance in the workplace will be full stop.

More important to the balance issue are the people in our lives. We all need to work out how not to neglect those that are important to us before it’s too late.  I remember having a very sobering moment during a race last year when I realised that despite being just a matter of miles from my mum, who I see seldom as we live in different countries, I was out running in a race. And for what purpose?  What was I trying to prove?  On the day in question, I stopped at the next aid station, hitched a lift to the nearest train station then spent the rest of the day lunching, shopping and enjoying a wonderful time with her. It was my first and only ever DNF but who cares? I know it’s a day we’ll always remember. You see, long after our knees are knackered and our limbs are lame, it’s the special times and the special people we’ve created them with that matter.  David Allen said, “You can do anything but not everything” and this I think sums up the eternal quest for balance.  It’s all a question of identifying where your priorities truly lie and therefore how best to spend our days, weeks, months and years.

I think ultimately you never really find total balance on a week to week or month to month basis … instead strive eternally to seek a sense of work / life / run balance overall.  If you spend a few months a year really committing to your running for example, make sure you take some time out in the off-season, to focus on those things you overlooked before, be that your friends, family, lovers, others, passions or pursuits. And finally, never think you’ve ‘arrived’ … that you have achieved the perfect balance.  There’s no destination … it requires ongoing and consistent effort. Take your eye of the ball and you’ll drop it …


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