This blog was written by rabbitPRO Taylor Nowlin. Taylor has been crushing the trails including a recent 2nd place at the Speedgoat 50k and placing top four at the Broken Arrow Skyrace 52k. Taylor has managed all of this amazing running success while balancing the demands of nursing school and she shares more about how she balances life on the blog.
Odds are you already play the run-life balance game. Most of us don’t have the luxury of ‘just running’, and although I think we’re better for it, sometimes it can make training a little tricky. Personally, I’m always riding the tide of ‘on top of my shit’ and ‘shit just hit the fan’, so I’m not going to pretend I’ve got the whole balance thing down to an art. Since starting an accelerated nursing program this year, I have made a few tweaks to both my schedule and my mindset that have made training for ultras while going to school full time a little more manageable.
Here’s the top 3 thing’s I’ve learned:
Seriously, this isn’t #1 by mistake. Patting myself on the back for the miles I CAN make time for instead of hyper-focusing on the miles I CAN’T fit in has been a huge part of my mental fitness regimen. If I want to show up on race day and give it my all, I have to feel confident in my training going in. I used to get that confidence from my mileage and workout splits, but now any little victory is worth celebrating. Did I get in a couple miles before class? Sweet! 8 hours of sleep? Hallelujah! Aced a test? I’ll take that too. I’ve always been my own harshest critic, but in order to handle more in my life, I’ve had to learn to start cheering myself on, too.
For the Speedgoat 50k this year I got out of class on Friday afternoon, drove to Phoenix, flew into Salt Lake City, slept for a few hours, made it the race start with about 5 minutes to spare, placed 2nd, flew home, and woke up Sunday morning to cram for a final. What I learned during that less than 24 hour trip was this: racing locally is a WHOLE LOT EASIER. I was on the fast track for burnout with that schedule, and had to stop and readjust my expectations. Now I focus on fewer ‘A’ races, get my speedwork in through local events, and take my off days when the other parts of my life demand more attention.
Last year when I was training for the North Face 50 miler I was putting in 25 hour weeks, and I just don’t have time to log hours like that anymore, and that’s okay. Instead I give myself credit for the activities I have built into my schedule already; like biking to class and walking 10,000 steps during night shifts at the hospital. I really feel like time on your feet is time on your feet, and that long days wherever they take place translate to fitness and mental stamina on race day. Maybe I can’t run as many miles, but I can definitely do more speedwork and plyometric drills instead! Allowing myself that flexibility has made me not only a happier person, but honestly a healthier runner.
It helps me to think of balance not as something I can achieve like a buckle on a shelf, but something I have to fight for every day. And just like racing ultras, some days it’s just not going to look pretty, but that’s part of the fun.