Once again, I am deep in summer training for the Detroit half marathon. I have a love/hate relationship with this experience, and I wait for the moment when training becomes “easy.”
It never does.
My training schedule requires running four days each week for 22 weeks. During the summer, I find myself wishing for more days in the week, so I can get every run in easily.
Off-season, I cross train with lots of different exercise. I walk with friends, run as many miles as whim carries me, swim a few times each week, and sweat through regular spinning classes. Last winter I felt like I was in pretty good shape, at least by my own standards.
With a goal of carrying this strength through training season, I haven’t given up spinning or swimming. Unfortunately, my running is suffering. So, while I’m not necessarily cutting back, I am easing intensity. I go to my regular weekly endurance cycling class, but bump down the gear to ease the load on my legs. I think I’ve hit my stride, or in today’s vernacular: I’ve found balance.
My experience is a metaphor for every woman’s fragmented life. We work, raise children, run households, plan vacations, coordinate volunteer meetings, sit on boards, budget for our children’s college tuition, clean, cook and counsel. We are busy, busy people.
As our children get older, and our personal needs begin to shift, we find pleasure in giving up some tasks, melancholy in others. We want to accomplish all we have grown accustomed to, so we find other activities to fill our time. And occasionally, we feel our energy level slipping.
This is the time to ease off, to reduce the intensity, without regret. While the 30-somethings in class are pushing at gear 15, there’s no shame, at almost 48, in backing off to 12.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not advocating pulling every plug and reclining in the long shadows of life’s afternoon. Afternoon can be the most productive time for some of us. What I am saying is sometimes we need to get used to providing 100% where it counts, backing off to 75% where it doesn’t. Maybe this is a difficult task for those who only spin at one speed, but it’s one worth exploring.
Life-long strength depends upon it.