That which does not kill us, makes us stronger. - Nietzsche

Friday, December 2, 2011

boundaries (and a long, introspective bit of rambling)

I kinda had a training breakthrough yesterday.

It wasn't an especially fantastic run, bike, or swim. It was a fantastic *thought* that I had on the way to the gym. The thought: BOUNDARIES.

Now, this training approach probably doesn't work for everyone, but it does for me. Earlier this week, I had the thought that right now, while I'm not following a training plan, I'm going to do a little LESS than I want to do for each workout.

That's right. I'm cutting workouts short. Why? Because I'm neurotic. I am constantly overestimating myself as far as training goes. Now, in some ways that's fantastic and it spurs me to be better. It also means I wear myself out and then feel like crap physically and mentally.

To use one of my favorite therapist sayings, I "should" on myself. I am ridiculously good at saying, "I should be able to run at x speed." "I should be able to run x miles today." "I should be able to train 12 hours a week and have energy to burn." Why do I do it? Ya got me. I think because I spend time (in real life and virtually) with people who are faster and stronger than me have different strengths and abilities than what I have. Since I'm constantly learning what works for me, I borrow from everyone else and I end up worn out and injured and crabby and disappointed.

I'm not a person that struggles with motivation to exercise, not since I found it years ago. I'm the opposite. I'm a person who struggles with obsession. I've been in therapy myself. Running slowly became an obsession. Multisport has potential to be obsession x3. If a little is good, then ALL THE TIME must be awesome.

What does this look like? I want to fill every spare minute of my time with exercise. I start feeling guilty if I'm NOT exercising. I feel a little guilty right now because I'm sitting on the couch with my laptop and my bike is on a trainer in the other room (although I haven't figured out how to set up the dvd player so that's why I didn't ride it today). I don't want to take rest days. I want to do all my workouts all-out so I know/can show off how fast I can go. I feel like a slacker if I do ONE workout in a day.

Regardless of what other crazy people post on forums and how they do 2-3 workouts every day....this is not remotely healthy for me.

So  I've spent this week taking my ideal workout for the day and cutting it down. Monday I did spin class, but I did not swim or run beforehand. Tuesday I did yoga class and a mile swim, not an hour long swim and I did not bike like I kinda wanted to. (This would've been day 4 in a row of biking.) I also slept in instead of doing a morning workout because I had been absolutely exhausted Monday. (I somehow put a kink in my neck biking Saturday and didn't sleep well for the next two nights. How does one injure one's neck while biking? I'm not exactly sure.) Wednesday....well, I had a LONG day and only time for a 30 minute run. And I chose not to feel bad about that; I chose to feel good that I had gotten up early and ran for 30 minutes before my long day. (OK....I was going to cut that down to 20 and couldn't bear to do it when I was out there.) Thursday I did pilates and I swam and I did circuit class and I ran for 2 miles. Umm, I may have wanted to run 3 miles and/or do some biking too because I got off work early.

So back to my thought on the way to the gym. What does this have to do with boundaries?? EVERYTHING. Boundaries are something that I've had to learn. I used to be the sort of person where, if someone needed something and I had it available, whether it was time, money, or energy, it was all theirs. Grad school taught me how well that really works out. If you want to learn every problem and issue and piece of baggage all your friends have, tell them you're going to school to become a therapist. Of course, at first I loved that everyone was coming to me for help. I wanted to help everyone. And I helped them so much that I ended up in therapy and on anti-anxiety meds myself.

Because if you do everything that you're humanly capable of doing, in any area, you will absolutely exhaust yourself. You have to have boundaries with everything. I have a job where I need lots and lots of boundaries. I could work so much if I did everything that my clients and my employer and my coworkers want from me, especially since I don't work set hours. (Incidentally, that is the same thing that means that I, theoretically, COULD train for hours and hours a day. It would also mean my paperwork would never ever get done.)

So it hit me that I need boundaries with working out, too. Yes, I COULD do another mile. I COULD go to spin class. I COULD do another lap. Does that mean I should? No, it doesn't. Just like I don't need to turn every single progress note in right on time and return every client's phone call right away and go to every school meeting. And lately, I've been planning my workouts based on absolutely the most working out I can squeeze into a day and squeeze out of myself, which leads to me running late everywhere and being tired and getting sick.

This week? It went a whole lot better. I had a lot more energy. I got caught up on some paperwork. I got to spend a leisurely morning with my cup of coffee before work. Sometimes I was EARLY to things and got a chance to sit in the quiet in my car for a few minutes. And I got rid of some of the guilt and the "should" that's been following me around. Even better, I realized, on the way to the gym, right after I realized it was all about boundaries, that I had to stop for gas. And I didn't freak out that I may have to cut a few laps off my pre-pilates swim. I'm starting to feel better about what I AM doing rather than guilty about what I'm NOT doing.

Oh yeah - in my first session with my therapist, she had pointed out her desk how it was doing a good job of keeping her stuff together and, well, being a desk. So what if she decided to park her car on it and it broke? Should she be mad? No, because that's not what it's made for. The lesson is that I need to do what I'm made to do, not try to take on the world. I can still tackle 140.6 without it being an obsession.

This is important. I'll try to keep this going.

(As a PS, discovering running is what led to me getting OFF the anti-anxiety meds. Time to keep it as a source of relief, not a source of anxiety!)

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