A few months ago I took a mindfulness course. As part of it I was supposed to write a Gratitude Letter. This is a letter to someone who has had...
Ruthless Prioritization. This is a phrase coined by my sister and I love it. I live by it actually. I have a full life with many people around me, and many dreams and goals and I want to do everything as well as I can. But unfortunately, the word priority itself means that at some point you have to choose something over another. Usually with me these become game day decisions. If you asked me I would say that I prioritize my running and training. And I do, over many things. But it turns out that when it comes to crunch time, I do have other things that take priority over training.
Over the last few weekends I’ve had to choose between getting a couple of long runs in (or even running at all) vs. spending quality time skiing with my family. I realized I would actually rather spend the time with my husband and kids and didn’t even begrudge the fact that I couldn’t train. I’ve also been quite busy with my independent business, and when it has come down to getting an extra run or gym session in vs. working on client and business goals, I’ve had no problem choosing work first. I don’t make these decisions because I have to – I do because I find them more rewarding. Running simply never wins out over my kids’ needs (which seem to be quite high these days!) nor my drive to build a successful business. If the choice was running vs. getting my hair done, it would be running – no contest. Running also often wins out over sleep, shopping, and maybe a bit of housekeeping (ok, all of it). I’m actually quite a master at fitting my training in because I really do care about trying my hardest and performing my best. But without ever having vocalized it before, I’m realizing that my training has been moved to the backseat more than a few times over the past few years.
When I was in my 20’s I never had an excuse not to do as much training as my body could handle. So I did run a lot. And rest a lot. I worked as well, and carried on a social life. It’s not like I had nothing going on other than running, but it would be a rare occurrence for running to ever be toppled off the top of the priority pyramid. I look back at those days when there were such fewer demands on my time, but I am not wistful. I wouldn’t say running is any less important to me now, but I now have other areas to which I want to devote at least as much time and energy. And that is why the prioritization becomes so ruthless. Even the some of the best things have to get cut.
I often think of children’s stories when the main character grows up and leaves their imaginary friends as sad. Maybe my running is a bit like that. I’ve grown up and try as I might I just don’t care about it quite as much as I once did. But it’s not really that sad. It would probably be sadder if I still talked to my teddy bear and if I still devoted everything to my training to the exclusion of other areas of life. We grow up, and with new experiences come new priorities. The only really sad part is that my race results reflect my current priorities. Ruthlessly.