Sunday, December 19, 2010

Marathon Training Time: Blending vs. Balancing life's constant demands

With my first full week of marathon training behind me, I can reflect on the week and the changes I need to make going forward.  Reflecting on marathons past, the 18 weeks leading up to them have been quite time consuming. It has at times been difficult for me to balance the many different activities and commitments thrown my way.  During previous training season's I have balanced work, school, relationships, but I have always neglected one or more of them.  I now have become so focused on achieving my running goals, that I have made it one of my primary focuses, however, school and work are also just as important and I have worked hard to keep good grades (going for a 4.0 on my M.B.A.) and giving a formidable effort at my place of employment.

These days, the world moves at a remarkable speed, it is nearly impossible to get all of the things an individual could want to accomplish in each day.  I am working through some things personally to allow myself the time I need to complete the  things I want to complete each day.  One important aspect to consider is sacrifice.  This is one thing that I would like to work on as a New Year's resolution this coming year.  My thing is that when I get a goal in mind, I put everything I can into that goal.  When I qualified for Boston, I promised myself I would give anything and everything I had both in preparation mentally and physically.  I don't want to go to Boston just to run it and "enjoy the race" like some of the qualifiers apparently do.  I think that is ludicrous; if you are fast enough to qualify for Boston, you come a day or two early and enjoy the scenery, not on race day.  But, that's just my angle.

In order to put all I can into training, I have sacrificed my personal life and love life quite dramatically.  Some of these things have been a good change for me.  Up until this year, I was in and out of relationships constantly.  So, I can thank running to some extent for getting my mind straight and putting less of a focus on girls.  It allowed me to learn a lot about myself, find my own inner strength, and realize that there is a lot more to life that women.  This is not to say that I don't want to one day find someone, because I do; but it has allowed me to put things in perspective.

In order to allow an outsider to comprehend how I could possibly put so much effort into an event that occurs 18 weeks from the onset of my training,  they must first understand what training does for my life.  By making a goal for myself, I am able to stay focused and motivated.  Both of these things translate to success in my everyday life in the many endeavors by which I'm involved.  In school, I am able to keep a clearer mind and am more eager to learn.  At work I am more patient and positive.  Anything and everything I do stems from my focus and clear mind that I get from running.  When I run I analyze my life and process things better than at any other time.  With all of this being said, no matter how much of a positive spin it has on my life, it can at times cause some stress.  That is impart because Marathon training requires such a huge time commitment, especially if you have a lofty goal and intend on accomplishing it.

Over the course of the 18 weeks leading up to the Boston Marathon, I will run roughly 1,100 miles (or 61.25 miles/week), bike anywhere from 1-2 hours per week, 3-5 ab workouts per week, 3-4 strengths training workouts per week, as well as countless stretching and foam rolling sessions.  It's no secret that I am obsessed, but I absolutely love it.  And, although I love it, I also have many other commitments that require my time and attention.  Besides all of the running and other exercise, I have a full time job, MBA classes, family, friends, maintaining a clean home, taking care of my dog (making sure he gets a walk or play time in each day), religious commitments, etc.  It is pretty much impossible to do everything I want to each day,  I almost always run out of time.  Looking back on my lazier days, I sometimes miss free time, but most of the time I do not.  Even though I am busy as hell, I like it.  I like the constant grind and feelings of accomplishment, but I do recognize that it is important to sometimes slow down a bit and make sure that I enjoy life (not that I don't).  It is however important to give myself a break now and again.

 I am just finishing up my first two MBA classes and each week we are required to listen to these online lectures.  Most of these videos include commentary from a "relationship genius" (in my opinion), named Keith Ferrazzi.  There are several reasons I love this guy.  Number one, he wasn't given anything and everything to get where he is now, he worked his ass off through hard work.  His parents often struggled to make ends meet and they managed to develop a son that graduated from Yale as an undergraduate and went on to graduate from Harvard Business School.  That's something I absolutely love, a hardworking individual that struggled through adversity and earned everything he has now.

Mr. Ferrazzi introduced the concept of blending as opposed to balancing life's many activities and commitments. We have all kind of been taught the importance of balancing so that you can accomplish everything that you want and give proper attention to different things. However, Ferrazzi prefers the concept of blending. With so many different commitments, it's often hard to balance them all. It's hard to make time for friends, work, exercise, cooking dinner, walking the dog, cleaning, and the millions of other tasks by which we delegate our time. Therefore, the importance of blending makes perfect sense. Why not make friends through the activities we exercise with our friends, or meeting and creating new friends at work, listening to your lectures as you grab a bite to eat, making a quick phone call on your lunch break, etc. By combining the many things we do each day, we are able to fulfill our daily quota of commitments.

Essentially, what this means, is that by incorporating all of the different aspects of your life through many of the same facets, you allow yourself more time each day and the ability to accomplish everything you want to each day.  I have made a strong effort to incorporate blending into my life.  I have introduced running to friends and thus we have been able to discuss running, race together and have inadvertently built better friendships through our common interest.  I have also introduced blending into my work life by striving to make more friends at work.  This allows me to enjoy my job more and create meaningful relationships at the same time.  Also, sometimes I will cook dinner while I play with my dog or clean the house, or run without music to establish a strong religious connection through speaking with God.  There are a lot of shows I enjoy watching and I sometimes will ride my spinning bike at the same time, killing two birds with one stone.  There are so many different ways to incorporate blending into your life and it works a heck of a lot better than balancing in my opinion.  It is an extremely beneficial concept to me during this nonstop time in my life.  Blending is what keeps me balanced, keeps me level headed, keeps me sane, it offers me peace and serenity.  I invite you to give it a try in your life, you'll be surprised on the positive impact it has....

Blend in,


"If you're interested in 'balancing' work and pleasure, stop trying to balance them. Instead make your work more pleasurable".-Donald Trump

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