That tricky work-life-running balance

Don’t get me wrong.

I absolutely love running.

In the almost 5 years since I started running, which was all part of my “Oh-my-God-I’m-turning-60” meltdown***, I have never, ever, even for a nano second, regretted the decision to start running.

Actually, let me quickly clarify the above.

***Despite psyching myself up for a meltdown, I didn’t actually have one, much to my children’s surprised & relief.

Instead I made a bucket list.

Since “starting to run” was on the list, off I set on a super fun journey of discovery.

But it’s a journey that has raised several ancillary issues, the biggest and most pressing of which is – how do you balance running with the rest of your life?

How do you organise your life to accommodate the 4.30 wake ups for running practice, during our brutal Delhi summers?

If my running group meets at 5.50, then I have to leave the house by 5.35/5.40 latest.  Before that I’ve had to have a coffee, eat something like a banana, drink lots of water, go to the loo, get dressed.  For me, that’s an hour at least.  So 4.30 it is.  And when it’s a race or an event further away from home, then the wake up just gets earlier and earlier.  It was 3.45 last Sunday, for example.

I leave you to imagine what time I have to go to bed, in order to have the energy to get up at 4.30.

I don’t mind these pre-dawn starts, because I’m getting up to go do what I have (much too late in life) learned that I love.  Running.

But living in india, where – typically – people eat late and party late, it’s difficult to maintain this schedule AND a modicum of social life.

I have a husband who is pretty accommodating, but he does grumble about my dawn sorties and then the 9.00am nap when I collapse back, sweaty and exhausted, just as he’s ready to get cracking.

His constant refrain is that we are living in different time zones, and he is correct.

Up at 4.30.  Running by 6.00.  Exercise, chat with mates, take a few photos.  Sometimes we go for breakfast afterwards.  And by 9 in the morning, I’m back home, loads of socialising done, the WhatsApp chats buzzing away, the photos already up on Facebook.  My dawn social life done & dusted.  And then I sleep.

Fast forward 12 hours, though, and you’ll find me in a party or at a dinner, discreetly looking at my watch, already fretting that I’m going to be too tired for the next day’s running meet.

How do you all do it?

I’m talking to you – all you other runners who arrive looking fresh & energised – how on earth do you do it?

How do you juggle your life?

How do you manage?

And, let me tell you right now, I have it very easy.

My children are adults, I work from home, so there is no school run or office commute.

I am privileged and lucky.

And yet I still seem to make a mess of both my social life and my running life.

I am constantly aware that if I trained more, trained harder, I could do so much better – even at my age.  I could run faster and longer, and achieve better results, without always having to play the old lady card.

Perhaps if I lived in a city with a less extreme climate than Delhi, things would be easier.  But I don’t, so that’s that.

Delhi is hot, hot, hot from April to the monsoons.

Then it’s hot & humid, humid, humid until Diwali (early November this year, God help us!).

Then there’s the winter pollution, but that’s another story altogether.

So during our long summers, we have little option other than to train at dawn.

I survive on post-run naps and a lousy social life.  But it’s not fair on hubby, I fully accept.  It’s not fair on friends, whose invitations I decline because of a race the next day, I fully accept.

When we’re invited out, I catch myself asking the host/ess whether it will be a late night or not.  As if they give 2 hoots about my running practice the next morning!

I clearly haven’t got the life-running balance sorted out at all.

The day I do, ah how my social life would improve immeasurably.


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