Life as a twenty-something year-old runner is a whirlwind! I feel as if my world is in constant motion; I’m learning new things, expanding my horizons and getting to know where my strengths and weaknesses are. I’m in the middle of grad school but at the same time I’m taking running more seriously than I ever did in the past. Balancing training while stressing over school, my job, money and my non-running friends has handed me my fair share of roadblocks! If you’re running in your 20s too I’m sure you can commiserate!Your daily routine is often all over the place. Simply squeezing in a run feels like a challenge!
My head spins when I try to sit down and think about all the tasks/ projects/ assignments I juggle each day. Working, grad school, running, family time, friends… sometimes at the end of the day I wonder how I do it all. My early morning runs are often times pushed into other time-slots (which pains me, because I am not an evening runner) or, worse, some days I can’t get a run in at all! Because my 20-something routine is… well… not much of a routine, I have to be flexible when it comes to the when and where of my runs. Sometimes I have to get creative — if I need to do a long run, I might squeeze in five quick miles early in the AM and another five in the PM when I have more time. It helps to keep a planner or calendar and to treat your running routine like it’s a job. Which means working around obligations like work and school, and sometimes giving up time with friends/family/the significant other… which leads me to the next example.
Your friends/ family/ boyfriend or girlfriend may not fully understand your commitment to running.
Imagine the scenario: it’s a Friday night and all your girlfriends are going out downtown. You want to socialize, but you’ve made plans for a 6 a.m. group run. “Come on!” they coax, swigging a pre-game beer, “We’ll have so much fun!” …. But you know what a night of drinking and little sleep will make you feel like the next morning. This is the true test of inner conflicts: do you hang out with your girlfriends and risk not being able to run in the morning or do you walk away and promise to hang out next time… and miss out on all the fun?
I’ve been in this situation many times and it made me realize something: this is the point where you decide how serious you are about running.
If your goal is a fall marathon (or ultra, if you’re crazy like me), sticking to a training program is an essential component. That, in addition to getting enough sleep, providing your body with proper nutrition, avoiding unhealthy habits… training for a race can feel like a full time job! Decide what it is that you truly want. If you want to run casually and you’re not training for a lofty goal, maybe going out with the girls is what’s right for you! Know what you’re getting into before you find yourself mid-way through a training program and unhappy. Achieving big goals takes time and commitment.
All that being said, it’s important to maintain your relationships with your non-running friends. I know I’m not the only one who can become mildly obsessive about her running routine… I mean, you are reading a running blog for serious athletes! If you’re like me, you often become so engrossed that it feels like you eat, sleep, and breathe running. For some of my friends who don’t run, I’m sure my non-stop talking about races, injuries, etc. can become annoying after a certain point. So give your loved ones a break every once in a while, and at least pretend that you’re a normal person. That way if you get injured, you’ll have someone to hang out with, right? ;-)
You may give yourself a hard time for not being “there” yet.
The twenties can sometimes feel frustrating. You’re working, striving, figuring it all out and more often than not you recieve “learning experiences” rather than great achievements in exchange for your hard work. Like learning that life does not always go the way we hope, and at the end of the day all we can do is keep moving forward. I feel like this part of my life is this weird stepping stone into full-fledged adulthood. Like… well… like I’m just not there yet.
Rosemary’s latest post on personality definitely made me think about how I can figure out who I am and use that to my advantage. Understanding myself better makes me a better runner. I’m learning how to handle the emotional ups and downs of training and not let a few bad runs convince me that I’m a failure. Not too long ago I was quicker to become upset over setbacks. Now I find myself thinking about my choices before I make them. I guess it’s all a part of growing up!
So I guess I’m getting “there!” Finding balance is one of the keys, I think — having a structured schedule but accepting that some days you may just have to go with the flow will leave you prepared for everything. And leaving room for fun in your life, because isn’t that what your twenties are supposed to be? Finding your stride and having fun doing it?
So Salties, enough of my growing pains. Are there any other twenty-something runners out there who have experienced the same things as me? Have any tips? What about challenges in different age groups? I could always use some advice for the future :)