Sleeprunning and Knowing When to Cut Your Losses

15 Dec

I just read this in an article about elite runner Tera Moody’s insomnia:

Sleep experts say adults should snooze about one hour for every two hours awake. Conventional training wisdom says to add one extra minute in bed per night for every mile run during the week. Not getting enough sleep builds up a so-called “sleep debt,” a term that also has its own rule: Every hour of sleep you lose is like a brick added to a backpack you must carry on the next workout.

I must have been carrying a 10 lb backpack during my sleeprun this morning. My legs felt like they would barely move, my eyes were watering, my feet were shuffling, and I zoned out several times, bumbling along in a daze. When I had a rare thought, it was, “Yeah, it might have been more productive to take today off.”

But my anal-retentive self won’t let me take a day off. In fact, I’ve been more dedicated to this training plan than any of my triathlon plans. I have fit in 95% of my workouts and even kept up with strength/weight training and stretching.

There’s a point in your training (and in your life), though, when you’re simply just trying to do too much. And by blazing ahead without heeding the warning signs, whether of being burnt out or on the verge of injury, you’re really just setting yourself up for a fall.

The hard part is that cutting back feels like weakness. It’s tempting to look at how many miles other runners run each week and think “I should be able to do my measly 15.” Or to look at all the activities and plans other women juggle and suddenly feel pathetic for struggling to hold my little life together.

But this is the trap I fall in to, time and time again: What I think I “should” do. This is what prevents me from being realistic about what I can handle. Some people thrive on busyness; others do not. I fall more into the latter. Whenever I am busy, I fight against the feeling with all of my being. I don’t like being busy. I’d rather be bored (and actually, I’m one of those people so good at entertaining themselves and finding things to do that I never am bored – well, unless I’m at work).

I find it somewhat amusing that so many people (myself included) complain about being so busy and stressed out, yet we’re the ones choosing to be busy and stressed out. After I said how exhausted excited I was about our holiday plans, and proceeded to schedule another dinner and New Year’s Eve plans, I took a step back and thought, What the heck am I doing here? I keep whining in self-pity about being “so tired” and “just exhausted” and wanting to do “nothing but lie on the couch all day” and then I go and MAKE MORE PLANS!

WHY? Why do I do this to myself?

It goes back to thinking that I “should.” I should be busy. I should have something to show for myself at the end of the day (no thanks to you, job). How often do you ask someone (who was not just on vacation!) what they’ve been up to and they say, “Oh you know, just a lot of reading and relaxing with my kids. A lot of sleeping in and going to bed early. Not much of anything productive.”

This is something that I’ve had to learn many times over the past couple of years (and am obviously still learning) – I don’t have to be productive to be a worthwhile person. Just like a person’s life doesn’t consist in the abundance of their possessions, it also doesn’t consist in the abundance of things they do. Busyness =/= worth.

So what am I going to do about this in my own life?

I am cutting off 4 miles from my long run on Saturday, taking Sunday as a rest day, and canceling my entire week of training next week too. If I feel like working out, great. I’m not making a rule that I can’t work out. But if I’m busy with other stuff, perhaps watching cheesy Christmas movies and eating sugar cookies, I’m off the hook. After Christmas, my real marathon training starts so if I want a break in the name of mental health, I should take it now.

The other thing I’m going to do is Stop Saying Yes. Yes, I’ve read this in a zillion self-help articles and magazines. But I never identified myself with “those people-pleasers who can never say no” because the things I was saying yes to were 1) good things 2) things I wanted to do and 3) things I was good at doing. Why would I say no to something that seemed so perfect for me?

Because I go insane with a busy schedule, that’s why.

Joanna Weaver wrote something profound in Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World, something I am just beginning to truly understand:

…While there are many things that need to be done, things I’m capable of doing and want to do, I am not always the one to do them.

Ability and Desire do not mean Do It. I have to accept that right now, I am running on empty (unless you count all those bricks in my backpack). In my heart, I do desire to serve others, spend time in fellowship and volunteering, in addition to maintaining my household, working, and training. But right now, God is calling me to an empty schedule. To turn things down in the name of rest and relaxation. I feel like I am on the verge of self-destructing and that does not benefit anyone.

So after Christmas is over (and I guess now New Year’s too), I am going to guard my evenings and weekends. I am going to feel complete freedom to turn down requests and invitations in the name of my sanity – especially since I’ll be spending more and more time training for the marathon. I will end the Madness by telling productivity to take a hike and all other obligations to leave me the h-e-doublehockeysticks alone.

But until then, I am praying for grace and trusting that God will provide the energy and joy I need to enjoy the full schedule I have planned. 😉

Do you ever bite off more than you can chew? How do you fit in time for rest?

3 Responses to “Sleeprunning and Knowing When to Cut Your Losses”

  1. Lisa December 16, 2011 at 7:28 am #

    Ha! Love the treadmill picture. 🙂 I definitely bite off more than I can chew, and yet I often feel like I’m not doing enough. Good grief! It’s important to remember that our worth isn’t tied to what we have or do, as you say.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Training Recap: 12/12 – 12/18 « - December 19, 2011

    […] 3.66 mile sleeprun (43:31, […]

  2. Own Your Own Busyness | seanverret.com - July 1, 2012

    […] is the New Spirituality by Dave Kraft – Sunday Supplement – Busyness by Todd Bumgarner – Sleeprunning and Knowing When to Cut Your Losses by Kathy Kluthe Tagged with: awareness • busyness • fear • live  Share […]

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