On Balance

Week in recap:

Mon-Wed: relax, stretch, walk, eat.
Thursday: Swim, 80 minutes.
Friday: 9 miles
Saturday: 16 miles
Sunday: 15 miles.

Friday was an odd return to running after last Sunday's calf got angry in a peculiar way. It reminded me that this calf anger happened at mile 23 of the marathon and was the main reason I pulled over to a tree for a stretch session (along with a call for help from my hamstrings and piriformis).  But the rest of the day, both after the marathon and on Friday, the calf felt 100% fine.  And 100% fine when I went for a run Saturday.  So....nothing learned.

The weekend runs were fun, comfortable, and easy, but I definitely was ready to stop running exactly when I stopped.  No energy to run farther--don't know whether that is because of "marathon recovery" or because I didn't bring enough food to chomp on (about 150 calories of gummy chews). Possibly both?


Here I am now, with my belly full of latkes, matzoh ball soup, hamentashen, and jelly donut (don't make me spell it out for you.  Hannukah.  I ate a Hannukah meal) my mind has wandered onto a topic....a topic that has flittered in my mind before...

Oh silly, I know you don't know what hamentashen is.  It is this. 

There's this word that I hear a lot.  I hear this word often in a specific context, in blog land, from women, who blog about food and exercise.

The word:


I can find you 3,000 blogs about balance.  "Cuddles and Yoga: a post-college girl's journey to find Balance in the city."  "Eating Peanut Butter While Running: seeking a healthy Balance while planning a wedding and raising three dogs."

My interpretation of "seeking balance" on health blogs is that it is code for "one who is desperate to make some meaning out of a bland life (harsh?) wherein the goal to look more attractive/skinny."

Everywhere you look, someone is trying to tell YOU how THEY maintain a very balanced life.  What the crap does "balance" mean to them?  Does balance = diet?  Does it mean how to eat and exercise and stay young and look good and show it all off for the internet?

I do not know what it means.

From the internet, I have deduced that "balanced" means some combination of:

  • yoga
  • homemade nut butter
  • buying a really nice camera
  • photographing everything
  • pilates
  • small portions
  • blogging daily--scratch that--thrice daily
  • photographing yourself
  • taking a lot of traveling vacations
  • talking about being balanced

And therefore, I am completely off balance.  I'm that awful table at every restaurant that rocks back and forth until you stuff napkins under it.  I don't carefully monitor and plan the details of my life, from the food to the exercise to the fashion, so I'm a mess.

Here's what I know.

The people in my life who actually seem balanced--which to me, means they are happy, mentally stable, have good relationships with people and with themselves, who can adapt to life changes and arrive at work every day in once piece--never actually talk about "balance."  They don't overanalyze, they aren't constantly searching for a meaning, or for a health trend, or for approval, or for "balance."  They are just living.  They're doing just fine.

Really consider, in what world is it "balanced" to neurotically document every meal and/or exercise activity on a public diary?  You have be out of control (aka "UNbalanced") if you need to hold yourself accountable to an audience of hundreds in order to get through the simple tasks of the day, including eating a meal.

Here's what I also know.

Balance is an important conversation to have.  But not so much in the context of balancing french fries with kale.

I recently had some good conversations with Margot about how to balance a full time job with quality running.  It was something I hadn't thought about much, but I felt it was a worthwhile topic to explore.  Running has become as second-nature as brushing my teeth in the morning, and sometimes I forget that it is actually hard shit.  Sacrificing your sleep, your free time, or an extra hour at work in order to run, is not always easy.  I feel like whimpering with sadness half of the time when I hear my alarm go off in the morning.  

And for what payoff? For little PR's here and there that matter to no one except yourself?

The more responsibilities you have--whether work, school, family, pets, children, second job, running hobby, music hobby, friends, volunteer, sick relative--the more that "balance" is a legitimate concern.   We can only spread ourselves so thin.

What it comes down to for me, for the balance of my simple life which consists of work, my significant other, family, friends, running, fun times/entertainment, is choosing what is worth it.  And running is almost always worth losing that 90 minutes in the morning where I could have been sleeping, working, relaxing, socializing.  For the endorphins, for the little PR's, for the cleansing sweat, the fresh air, satisfying that itch in my legs.

I could go on about the things that I think are worth it.  People come first.  They always come first.

So....cheesy as it is....what does balance mean to you? And if you answer that it means "healthy diet and regular exercise," just gag me.