when your office isn't the track

Sometimes I'm really jealous of professional athletes. Like...
  1. When I share the workout track with two high school lunch hours and two gym classes. And on my last mile of a grueling workout having a group of boys make loud fart noises at me every time I come down the last 100m. Actually that was a pretty solid burn. Solid.
  2. When I'm doing that workout all alone. 
  3. When I fill up my bathtub with three bags of ice and one block because the tap only runs lukewarm. 
  4. When I can't nap under my desk. 
  5. When massage isn't on my schedule. 
  6. When my work day totally eats my workout. 
  7. When I pay for shoes.
  8. When no one wants my autograph. 
  9. When Twitter won't give me my blue badge. 
  10. When I have to stretch my own damn hamstrings
But then I think about the pressure of running as your job. And how every ache and pain would bring flashes of HOLY SH*T if break, what will I do??!  

What brought this topic up was not just the fart calls during my track workout today but an article I read April issue of Running Times. Apparently it's not online, so get your paper copy to read "It's About Time" by Alex Kurt. He compares the schedules of an amateur runner with a 50/hour week job and a professional runner. How they used their time on and off the roads. Chris Erichsen, the runner with the 50 hour a week job competed in the 2012 Olympic Trials and has a marathon PR of 2:16:31. What's interesting to me is that when he was given three months to devote to training he overtrained. He realized the balance was good. 

they weren't joking about the loneliness of the long distance runner...
It can be exhausting to be both invested heavily in a career (in the traditional sense) and a running career at the same time. I never feel like there are enough hours. There is always something I'm neglecting. And in the darkest weeks I feel like I'm not good at both or either or anything. I imagine that would happen with or without running though. I have my cave days. 

I also see examples of pros that thrive with more on their plate than just running. See: Lauren Fleshman.  I friggin can't find the reference, but in an interview she said she's a better runner when her life is full. Not just full to be full, but full of other things she's passionate about. Like Picky Bars, freelance writing, Believe I Am...full plate. 

At the end of the day, the amateurs (hey that's us!) are pretty damn lucky. No one is watching but you. Which can be lonely, and defeating at times, but only if you ignore the best part. We get to run for ourselves. And we have this online community of runners to be a part of. A community created organically to bolster each other. To encourage and support. And inspire. To make the road less lonely. 

For instance, this week Emily Sweats gave us a glimpse into how she trains at the level she does, while maintaining a full time job and social life. Seeing someone else, even though they are a continent away, setting their alarm for before 5am made me feel less alone. And slightly less crazy. 

So here's to fart-serenaded track workouts, 4:45am wake-up calls and ice filled bathtubs. Amateur style. 


  1. This is an awesome post (and how appropriate, it was on my birthday too!). I've never commented on here before but felt the need to comment on this one.
    I graduated college a year ago and am constantly worrying that my first "real job" is going to totally screw me over as a runner. Perhaps that is why I'm taking so long to find one...I want to find a job that compliments my lifestyle rather than hindering it. Even working as a personal trainer didn't do much for me, so I'm focusing my search on editing/PR work for a company that shares my values.

    Lauren's "full plate" theory makes sense-- those who do nothing but run and train tend to get overly complacent about it. Filling your plate with other things that you're passionate about gives you energy and confidence that translates into your workout. And less time thinking = more time just DOING.

    Anyway...that's my two cents. Cheers to an awesome post.

    1. I also tried being a personal trainer part time. I found that it hindered my training. I spent so much time motivating others, I couldn't motivate myself. And it just didn't make me tick. Find a job that makes you happy in an area you are passionate about and it won't take away from your training and energy. It will only fuel it.

  2. Loved this post. I had about 3 months were I wasn't working and while I loved the flexibility of my workouts, I am so much more efficient when I have a packed day. Now that I work my 40+ hour workweek, plus commuting, I have to get creative to fit it all in, but I appreciate it SO much more! Can't says I'm a before-5am wake up, but my alarm does go off right at 5. I've been bad this week and have been ignoring it, though. Just one of those weeks. I'll get back on track next time.

  3. Love this! This seems like a total grass is greener scenario. We assume running would be better and easier if it's all we had to do but it's not necessarily the case. I also think it would be easy to become burnt out and running to lose some of it's fun if it was your job instead of the reward at the end of a hard day of work. I do wish someone would give me free shoes though.

    1. I totally agree. It would be hard not to burn out. Or become completely one-dimensional in the running obsession.

  4. There are never enough hours! The way I know that working *helps* my running is because I run best at 6:00 a.m., before putting any food in my body. On the weekends when I don't HAVE to run at that hour, I sleep in, I eat breakfast, and my run is usually heavy and slow. Or sometimes I just don't end up running, because I think "eh, I can run later in the day" and never do. Without work I would have no running regimen. Knowing it's 6:00 a.m. or never on workdays gets me out the door!

  5. I hear you!! I am working/training/life regular living as well and day dream about the same things! Heck, I sometimes feel pressure running on my local run shop's team haha so it is a blessing to be an amateur and doing all this b/c I truly love the sport! I do NOT enough gumption for a tub full of ice though, that is tough cookie business!


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