Figuring out what’s next

By Linda

I feel like I’ve been in a sort of mid-life crisis lately, floundering around trying to figure out What’s Going to Happen Next. Our lives are in a weird state of potentially looming craziness, where there may be some major upheavals coming soon . . . or there might not be. We don’t know yet. Everything—our jobs, our home, where we live, everything—is up in the air right now. I picture this in a literal kind of way: all these major elements tossed skyward, and we’re standing around waiting to see where they land. Might be right where we are now. Might be waaaaay the fuck over there. No way to know yet. FILE NOT FOUND.

All my navel-gazing has led me to a lot of thought about fitness and what role I want it to play right now. Many weeks ago I signed up for the Danskin Triathlon thinking how I’d have all this time to focus on improving my swimming skills. Well, here it is about a month from race day and I haven’t put in much pool time at all, never mind getting in even one open water swim.

I also had the October Portland marathon in mind, but as that date inches closer I think about getting back into the ever-burdensome routine of long runs and I’m not sure I want to take it on.

It’s very, very difficult to suss out what I truly want to do about these things. On the one hand, I’ve never regretted a day of training and every event I do is an amazing experience (even if parts of it are purely awful). On the other hand, it’s summer and my life is in turmoil (not in a bad way, necessarily, but even good turmoil is exhausting) and maybe it’s not the end of the world if I just try and enjoy myself rather than meeting ongoing training goals. On the other other hand, training is hard by definition and maybe I’m being a pussy.

While I’ve been chewing on race-related decisions, I do feel pretty good overall. My husband and I hiked 18 miles of the Rogue River trail last week and I’m happy I’m in good enough shape to easily do something like that. There was a time, not that long ago, when I would have been freaking out about a long hike—could I keep up? What if I got tired? What if the backpack was too heavy?—and it felt like . . . I don’t know, like a gift I’ve given myself to be out there and feeling great and enjoying the challenge of heading up steep hills and marveling at the view below me.

Summer weather has finally hit Seattle and I’ve been going for some evening walks, which has been nice. I ran an easy four miles last night with the Garmin at home so I wouldn’t obsess over pace. I’ve been riding my bike, but just for fun, not with any distance goals in mind.

It seems okay, what I’ve been doing, but I have the nagging feeling I’m missing something. Maybe I need that extra misery of training. But maybe it’s okay to take a break. But. But. But.

I guess all I can do is keep checking in with myself, be as honest as I can, see if I’m happy or not, and go from there. I just wish the second part of that directive wasn’t so goddamned hard.

11 Responses to “Figuring out what’s next”

  1. Holly Says:

    When life is in turmoil (good or bad) and things are swirling around me, I think it’s good to realize that if you are maintaining, in the big picture, you are making progress. It sounds like you are doing a great job of reveling in all the hard work you have been doing the past couple of years and maybe it’s ok to do that for a bit while you pause to figure out other things :) Sometimes in life actively NOT regressing is actually progress!

  2. lindsay Says:

    At least I’m not the only one whose internal deliberation uses three hands. Sounds like a killer hike and looked like it too from the pics.

  3. Liz Says:

    God, I could have written this. We have so many different decision points colliding in the next few months ranging from “sell everything, move across country, radically changing our lifestyle” to “everything stays the same” (With points inbetween those two). I go back and forth about every 30 seconds regarding which one I want to manifest, except I can do exactly nothing to influence the outcome, so like: that’s an awesome feeling.

    But I have a local race in October I am suppose to start training for Monday. Will I be here? No clue. Do I train anyway? I mean, I guess, probably. Right? Maybe? Since I can control so little of what is happening in my life at this moment, I might as well control my daily schedule. Which means instead of commenting, I need to be at the gym. Damnit!

  4. Kaitlyn Says:

    It’s ok to take break. I think it’s so easy to become obsessed with what’s next, what ELSE can I do, that we can easily forget to just relax and enjoy.
    If fitness goals are what keep you motivated to work out, then sure, they’re necessary. But there’s nothing wrong with taking some time off. Especially because your life is so stressful right now with work and financially etc etc etc, leisurely bike rides might be the key.
    Remember that just because you don’t complete a spring tri or marathon within te next five months, doesn’t mean you can’t ever do on again, you know?

  5. Lauren Says:

    I’ve done a lot of this too lately – we sold our house and are moving into our new one in the next few weeks. Between packing all our worldly belongings, finding temporary housing, and then working through the mortage details, I decided now was NOT the time to try to train for something new.

    Making the time for it is just one piece – worrying about the training takes a lot of brain space that I just can’t donate right now.

    So like you, right now I’m ejoying the freedom to do whatever active things I want to do, when I want to do them without the pressure.

  6. Kaitlyn Says:

    Sorry to re-comment but I just read this at Mark’s daily Apple and thought of you:
    “The contention I have is the media and corporate influence that have lured the masses to believe that running a marathon or finishing an Ironman is the ultimate endurance achievement. To me this seems backwards – to get persuaded by hype, mystique and peer pressure into an athletic goal and then re-arrange your lifestyle in order to pursue that goal. It makes better sense to make a careful analysis of your life circumstances, responsibilities, obligations and potential impact on your family, career and overall well-being, and then choose an appropriate competitive goal. Aspiring to a less challenging event that requires less training time and less physical stress might be a win/win situation all around.”

  7. Linda Says:

    Definitely some truth to that! I take his views on exercise with a grain of salt, though, he’s very anti-endurance sport.

  8. Shannon Says:

    I think Holly put it so well. You’ve done so much and been so BUSY the last few years (with such amazing results) it must feel weird to be not training or pushing yourself with a specific goal in mind. Just think of your goals when you started this lifestyle change…with the intent of a healthier lifestyle and toning your body…and you are already there…everything else is ‘gravy’. :-)

    Just signed up for my first 5k….I used to run all the time when I was in army but now starting back up in hopes of losing that ‘baby’ weight and getting back to the shape I like to be in…your site and your insights are such an inspiration…

  9. Kaitlyn Says:

    I have mixed feelings about endurance sports. Obviously, I “enjoy” them, but think of the pain and the grinding of joints that takes place during marathon training/racing, saying that it’s bad for you doesn’t seem like much of a stretch to me.
    Obviously, I will continue to run long distances because it’s something I like to do, but I think there’s validity to what Sisson claims.

  10. Linda Says:

    I can totally, totally see that perspective. I can also see the perspective in, say, Born to Run (great book, btw), where he proposes the theory that humans are designed for long distance running. *shrug* Like everything else, fitness choices are really just that: personal choices. I can’t imagine doing marathon training on a regular basis, but I would never say it was “bad” for someone who chooses to do so, even if they have to contend with injuries along the way.

  11. Karen Gumina Says:

    Yesterday, while I was at work, my cousin stole
    my iphone and tested to see if it can survive a thirty foot drop, just so she can be a youtube sensation.
    My iPad is now destroyed and she has 83 views.
    I know this is totally off topic but I had to share it with

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