Saturday, May 1, 2010

Finding the Balance

With due respect to the common blog themes of Adam Wende and Luke Nelson, I am once again re-discovering the challenge of balancing the many demands and desires of life. This happens each year as my mileage ramps up into the 80-100 miles per week range. There are certain demands that cannot be avoided, such as work (55 hours/week for me, including commute). Sleep is also a necessity, though it often shrinks to 5-6 hours a night for long stretches. And there are other necessities of life, such as shopping for food (which I hardly ever do thanks to a wonderful wife), eating, church, housework, etc. Generally, I am left with 3 things which I enjoy that I have to balance- family, running, and any other leisure activities. The third one is not too painful to cut- I don't watch much tv (since NFL football is not in season), and only watch 3-4 shows most weeks. My computer time remains relatively constant (to Marci's chagrin).

Running 90 miles per week takes 15-20 hours, once I include the preparation time, driving to the mountains, showering after, etc. Not a minor commitment. Trail running adds more time than road running, of course, due to longer drives and slower pace. But it is infinitely more enjoyable for me. The remainder of the time goes to family. Some days I can spend many hours with them, but there is the occasional day where I hardly see my daughters at all.

On occasion, I read certain blogs with a bit of envy- for example, Tony Krupicka has run 2209 miles in 330 hours already this year. While he is probably the highest mileage runner around, I wouldn't mind having the 40 hours per week to run in the mountains like he does. But it just isn't a possibility with my life. And I imagine I am in much better company than someone like Tony when it comes to having to balancing life with running- there are many more working dads who try to sneak in running than there our people running 200 miles a week at will.

And you know what? I wouldn't change it for a second. I love running in the mountains- the sound of leaves rustling in the wind, birds and squirrels chirping, amazing vistas, the feel of mud underfoot, the freedom and isolation, and the occasional sound of Cody crashing through the underbrush. But that pales in comparison to one hug from my 21 month old daughter, Aspen, or when my 3 1/2 year old, McKinley, asks me to color a book with her, or when my wife thanks me for washing the dishes. Those are infinitely better. And I love all of them. Isn't life great! Finding the balance is what makes us better and helps us realize what is really the most important. And that's what life is all about.

Which would you rather have?

Or This?

How about both!


  1. Yup, preaching to the choir. That's exactly why I don't join you and Cody very often for Saturday trail run. Each time, I have to make a cost-benefit analysis, and many times it "costs" too much. For example: drive to the trailhead - 45 minutes each way. 18 mile run on single-track - 3 hours (maybe). Total time: 4.5 hours. Or I can hammer on the roads by myself and cover the same distance in less than 2 hours. That's 2.5 extra hours with my family.

    But even a road whore like me goes through the same dilemma, and I'm continually balancing and re-balancing and re-balancing my life. In order to do everything I want to do, I have to cap my mileage at about 80-90 miles/week, reduce my hours at my day job, set really firm boundaries at my side business (ie - say "no" to some projects), and find creative solutions just as running home from work. But all that balancing can get exhausting in itself. Sometimes I just want to give up, sleep in, and sit on my butt, rather than trying to excel at something. It would definitely be a lot easier. But I continually fight with the thought of "is it worth it?" Right now it is, but running is fast becoming less and less important.

  2. i like this post! you are good at balancing two great things in your life. Your daughters love how much time you spend with them, especially that you act just like them.

  3. Your last sentence reads "which would you rather have?" and gratefully we can each say "BOTH". I can't imagine my life without either. And amazingly there are times when I can have both at the same time as my 11 year old son is now starting to run and loves hitting the trails with me. But nothing beats working myself to death and then coming home and wrestling with my two youngest. Their smiles and laughter are contagious and playing with them caps off a perfect day, even when that day starts at 4:30am.

  4. Amen to that post jon, I like it. And totally agree with you on that also jun. Life is pretty amazing with an amazing wife, young kids to love, and so many great mountains around to run!

  5. Life is a balance and I see it as a 3 legged chair. Nevertheless, I make sure my priorities are family, work, and then endurance training. I'm good with 5-6 hours of sleep as long as I'm squeezing everything I can out of life. Good post.