By: Tenille Hoogland
How many times have I heard myself say to someone or someone say to me – how do you find balance? Up until 1 year ago I tried to balance work, being a pro-triathlete, relationships and life. Once I realized that I was on the brink of exhaustion I made being a pro-triathlete my work and my priority. The question remains though – have I achieved better balance? To answer this question I have looked to the dictionary and talked to several people. This is what I learned in my quest to understand what it means to me.
Definition #1: An even distribution of weight enabling someone or something to remain upright and steady
To me this definition gets at the physical dimension of balance that triathletes struggle to achieve in their quest to strengthen three demanding sports. I, like many others, have not managed to stay “upright” or “steady” in training or races due to injury, poor mechanics, or nutrition. Lack of balance can be too much emphasis on motor development at the detriment of skill development. It can be too much time spent on one sport, leaving another to become the weak link. It can also be missing the recovery needed to keep going at such intensity, volume while meeting life demands. For me - there really is only one solution. Get a coach. Zane has taught me so very very much about the need to balance skill and motor development with recovery. He constantly is finessing my training schedule to meet me where I am at and where my body is at. Some say planning is the biggest job and execution is the easy part… to keep me swimming, biking and running healthily, I believe it.
Definition #2: A stable mental or psychological state; emotional stability
I had the incredible opportunity to listen and speak to Peter Reid at the Specialized Training Camp I attended two weeks ago.
One thing that really struck me is how strongly he emphasized knowing
why you are doing something. Triathlon is no easy undertaking. For me
there are times when everything hurts, I am tired and that it takes
everything in me to step out the door to go for that second run. These
are the times that knowing why is critical. There are a million
different reasons why each of us undertakes the mission to complete a
triathlon. It is only your reason that matters though and that will
bring joy to the training day and to the race. Know it and breathe it –
it will bring stability just when you really really need it.
Definition #3: Something that is left over; a remainder.
I like this definition as it applies to life because it is often that we are cramming in lots of life into the “remainder” time we have after training, working, school, etc. Two friends of mine were talking about what balance means over dinner and the suggestion was that balance is meeting the must dos and being able to pursue the want to’s beyond that. Important to this notion is accepting that you likely can’t do or achieve all your want to’s.
Skot Campbell, BG bike fitter at Bicycle Sport Shop, said to me that balance is something that we all aspire to but rarely attain because we are, after all, asymmetrical. I loved this because it reminds me that it is the pursuit of life that brings balance and that it is human to be a little lop-sided.
Perhaps as we struggle to strike the right balance of work and play, family and friends we need to fundamentally remember that life is in balance when it is full of all those things that are important to us—that we are meeting those things that we have set as priorities and are enjoying once and awhile the nice to dos.