I Didn’t Earn It

I’ve been feeling pretty scattered lately. While I’m still enjoying the process of having a lot of goals and things to work toward (yay! No burnout yet!), I’m getting to that point in the process where I’m struggling to balance everything. Last weekend, as another Sunday evening fell upon us, I remember thinking there’s just never enough time – which, if you know me, is utterly laughable since I squander so much of mine. It’s just that my goals have felt much more competitive with each other than usual: it seems like I can’t do one thing without feeling like I’m sacrificing another. If I go for a run, I feel bad that I didn’t stay home and get much-needed cleaning done. If I stay home to clean and tidy, I feel bad that I didn’t get any reading done and I’m farther behind on my reading goals. And so on, and so forth. I’m really not doing a good job managing my life lately.

Last night I skipped a run. I also didn’t get any reading done. Our apartment is in desperate need of attention. We haven’t cleaned in forever and it’s getting so bad in there. But we just keep putting things off. Between working late and me being at the gym/class or on some run, we actually haven’t had a lot of time at home in the evenings. Yesterday morning Kevin was stressing out about how messy it is and how there’s going to be so little time to clean in the coming days. We have our belated Valentine’s Day date night tonight, and then our weekend is surprisingly busy – my long run in the morning, a wedding to go to in the afternoon, brunch on Sunday then and Kevin’s going to a hockey game while I make a trip down to my alma mater. But hearing about our schedules is probably boring as hell, so I’ll get to the point – last night, I slowed myself down.

I forgot about reading or running or meal prep or making progress and I focused on doing something that needs to be done. While Kevin was working late, I did dishes, I did laundry, I cleaned the bathroom, I tidied up. That’s how I spent the evening I should have spent doing a hill repeats workout and knocking another 50 pages out of my current book.

I may be in a bad mood later because my weekly mileage is so low and I only have three more weeks to get in shape for my half marathon, or because I’m going to end February a little more behind on my 36 books in 2017 goal, or because I had to spend money eating out since I didn’t do any meal prep. Or maybe I won’t feel bad about it, because I really believe that what I did last night was the best possible way I could have spent my time. It needed to get done and I don’t regret skipping out on other things to do it.

It got me thinking, and I was reminded of something that we so often forget as runners and goal-chasers: being able to train for races and chase goals is a privilege. And, like all other privileges, I have to earn it. Having extracurricular goals is a treat I earn for taking care of myself and being a responsible adult in the rest of my life. If I’m neglecting to take care of myself, my home, my family, and my job, then I haven’t earned the right to work toward any running or reading or whatever goals.

And that’s why I had to skip my run and forgo my reading time last night. I didn’t earn it. If I had forced myself to go on that run instead, I wouldn’t have felt very good about myself later. Sure, I would hit my weekly mileage target, but my house would slip further into chaos and I’d still be feeling scattered and stressed about my poor time management. We all struggle with balance sometimes, goals or no goals. It’s hard. Goals and “fun” things are important, because they enrich our lives. But nothing we choose to do should ever take priority over something we need to do.

My “time out” last night also created a momentum shift for me. Getting some of that much-needed cleaning done was like a weight lifted off my shoulders, and I suddenly felt a little more in control of the stress I’ve been feeling. I settled into bed at a decent enough hour that I could take 20 minutes to write in my journal. I wrote about the stress I’ve been feeling over how poorly I manage my time. I brainstormed ideas for how I can be better at arranging my time so that I can work toward my goals without feeling guilty and overwhelmed, and still have time to take care of my responsibilities and have a social life. I’m still figuring it out, but the wind is blowing in the right direction now.

And I don’t feel like it’s such a big deal to be “behind” in my half marathon prep or reading anymore. There will be other races this year, and I have plenty of time to get caught up in my reading before December.

If you made it all the way through my bloviating, congrats. I suppose this was just a long-winded way of saying I needed a day to get my sh*t together.

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6 thoughts on “I Didn’t Earn It

  1. Haha “needed a day to get my $#$& together”

    I needed this today. I’ve been feeling bad this week about missing some runs. But you are right!! Sometimes $$#& needs to get done. And more so, sometimes sitting on the couch and destressing is important too. I’m going home tonight, grabbing a beer, and cleaning my bathrooms. Thanks Hanna lol

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  2. I had a day like that yesterday too. I had to take care of a lot more snow removal (Dave is out of town). Hunter and I got the tractor stuck in a snow bank off the side of the driveway, the snow blower broke…and we had MAJOR ICE DAMS that had to be taken care of…no running happened. I guess it is good cross training…as is cleaning!
    To add to Richard’s advice:
    Add an audio book, while cleaning, with a beer…Hey, wear your sneakers and clean like a beast!!
    (When I am getting stuff done, I also throw in a super easy dinner, like frozen pizza!)
    …and when I know I am lacking in mileage, I don’t tally it up :).
    I honestly don’t think that I could ever be a person who has it all together!

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  3. Hi Hanna! I found your blog through Cait Flanders, and was happy, as I am minimalist-ish and would like to be a marathoner again. Balancing getting milage up with the rest of life is always a struggle on a number of levels for me. I concur with the advice above about cleaning. I hate to clean, honestly, but love having a clean home (being a minimalist does make the process easier though). I like to crank the music and bribe myself with treats. One task, one treat. Strong coffee, a show, a glass of wine, whatever it takes! It also helps sometimes to designate a cleaning hour and get your partner involved too (I tend to grow resentful when I clean alone). Good luck!

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    1. Thanks for stopping by! I LOVE Cait’s blog. Funny enough, I actually don’t mind cleaning that much. I’m just a really lazy procrastinator and struggle to get things done. Good luck getting back on the marathon wagon!

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  4. I was nodding my head while reading this. With working longer hours and less time during the work week, I’m feeling a lot of pressure to do everything I want to. I’m finding some weeks one thing takes priority over another, but that could change the following week. It’s good to take a day and think about your priorities so you can focus where you need to.

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