Saturday, January 11, 2014

Balancing Act

Just over six months ago, I accepted a new job. Before I even started, I had everything planned out for how I would manage a long commute + long hours + high mileage. But then I actually started the job and realized that it wasn't always that simple.

Working from home once a week doesn't happen very often, leaving the office early enough to take the HOV lanes is hit or miss, and the hours are longer than expected. All that being said, I couldn't be happier with where I am in my career-- I don't regret my decision one bit. I love the challenge and the level of responsibility that this position provides. I just have to figure out where and when I can run on a day-to-day basis. I do have a schedule that I try to stick to, but I need to be flexible with it in case something comes up at work that changes things. Factoring in the icy/snowy weather is another variable to consider as well.

Here is what I try to have happen each week:

Monday: Leave my house at 5:20am to meet my friend Allison in Arlington for a 6:00 run. She lives just two blocks from my office, so we have been meeting up and running anywhere from 6-8 miles on Mondays. I don't have any traffic on the way to work, and my commute home just depends on when I can get out of there. Regardless of what time I leave, there is still plenty of work to do when I get home.

Tuesday: This one is easy: intervals with my coach/team. The track is just two miles away from my office, so I leave the house at around 5:30 and don't hit any traffic. It takes about 30-35 minutes to get there and my commute home can be as fast as 45 minutes or as long as 75 minutes, depending on traffic and when I leave.

Wednesday: Rest day, usually. I still wake up early and get into the office at around 7:15 to avoid traffic.
Thursday's tempo run. Feeling strong!

Thursday: Ideally, I would work from home. In reality, I either leave my house really early and do a tempo run on the track in Arlington, or I do the tempo run around my neighborhood, and arrive to work at 9:30, taking the HOV when it opens up at 9:00. The tricky thing is that even with the HOV, there is still a lot of traffic on Thursday mornings, so I could end up spending an hour commuting.

Friday: Easy run at home, leave the house at 8:30 and get into work at 9:15ish. There isn't as much traffic on Friday as there is during the rest of the week so I don't have the problems I have on Thursday.

With this schedule, it all fits in nicely. But it's stressful being on such a tight time table, and having to pack a bag every night and shower in the office locker rooms. Oftentimes I won't get home until after 7:00, at which point I unpack my gym back, repack it, have dinner, answer some emails, eat dinner and go to bed at 9:00ish. There's just not much time to relax or catch my breath. I have to plan out my outfits/jewelry/makeup the night before which doesn't sound like a big deal, but it's not what I want to do when I get home from a long day.

All of this being said- this is a typical schedule and I often have to switch workouts and times and places, depending on my work schedule, the weather, or other factors. Since starting the job, I have yet to run over 45 miles per week. Part of that is because I started the job injured, trained a little for Chicago, recovered from Chicago, ran New York, recovered from New York, and then haven't gotten my mileage up that high since. Running 35-40 miles per week in this framework is completely manageable. I hope that 50+ is manageable too.

Greg has been very supportive. He understands that when I come home from work I still have more work to do, but he misses running with me in the mornings like we used to. I haven't been able to read blogs as much as I would like, or even maintain my own blog to the extent I used to. But I'm okay with it-- I get more satisfaction out of my job than any previous job, so it's totally worth it.

I'll be running the Shamrock half marathon in March followed by the Cherry Blossom in April, and then an early May marathon. I've had some great speed workouts lately but I would like to get the mileage up and start building my endurance again.


  1. Wow, I think you and I are living somewhat parallel lives right now. I totally get the whole balancing act situation w/ work/running/play. I used to have 1-2 WFH days and now it's a rarity (snow related for the most part and at that, I feel guilty!). My husband asks me periodically if I still ilke it - not that I don't like it, it's that there's a LOT of it.

    Anyway, good for you for getting it done and not letting it stop you! Hope the pressure eases up on us both :)

  2. Getting up early is TOTALLY worth it! Glad you are juggling everything well. AND I'm so happy you are loving your job. That's important.

  3. I hear you on this one. As my business gets busier, I'm more and more trying to be flexible and creative with getting in proper training and recovery, I.e. not burying and stressing myself out. nevertheless, I'm impressed with your time management, I imagine you're quite good At what you do!

  4. Wow, I got dizzy just reading about it. I applaud you for finding that balance with work, exercise, and family life.

    Good luck in your upcoming races. And I am also glad you like your job. That is what makes all of what you're doing worth it.