Kicking off her 2020 #Fast10 campaign strongly, Jenny Nesbitt talks about the importance of having interests outside running too. 

Don’t get me wrong. I am very passionate about running. In fact I would go as far to say that the majority of my life evolves around it.

Yet, transport back 3 years or so, and I would have said that running was the be all and end all of my life. It is funny, because since I have let go a little bit, my performances have improved and my love for the sport has increased tenth-fold. 

I’m a driven individual, and I want to see just how good I can be at this running lark, and I realise this requires a lot of dedication and investment of my time into doing so.

What I’ve only recently come to realise is that this doesn’t mean I can’t have a life away from it too. Being happy is key to running and performing well. Having other interests and passions can play an essential role in maintaining a healthy balance in life. After all, running doesn’t always go the way you want it to and trust me, having nothing else to focus on can really feed into a vicious cycle of self doubt, unhappiness and anxiety.

Photo: Kris Jones

 Surround yourself with good people

Since surrounding myself with people who take running just as seriously as me, but also take life seriously too, it has opened my eyes to how wrong I had the balance. Go for a run, do a session, have a race. Do the recovery, the sleep, the nutrition. But have fun. Smile. Eat that cake. Go to that party. Skip that hours sleep. Wake up an hour later.

I realise that the above is not a sustainable lifestyle if you are to keep on top of your performance, but once in a while it is ok. And it is this once in a while which can help maintain equilibrium in life.

I’ve learnt that I will most likely find those extra seconds when I stand on the start line, if I’ve surrounded myself with the people I care about, eaten food I’ve enjoyed and not spent the previous week constantly thinking about the race. It doesn’t need to be wild, or elaborate. It just needs to be balanced. 

It might not be easy, but it’s worth it

Don’t get me wrong. It’s not easy to find balance. Usually your passion and drive to achieve can easily override every other aspect of your life. When your livelihood is on the line too – there is even more at stake. You can leave a 9-5 at 5,  but running is a 24/7 kinda thing.

You do have to make decisions which can be a bit boring (going out every weekend might not be ideal!) and admittedly you don’t just leave running at the door when you get home. But, put the kettle on (have a biscuit), and have a read of my top five tips to finding balance.

Jenny’s top tips

One : Go out and do non running related activities with your friends. It is great to meet up for a social run, but rather than lacing up your trainers, put on some jeans and do something else. Whether this is a coffee date, shopping trip or a holiday. 

Two : Occupy your free time with at least one non running related interest. Whether that is a degree, a hobby or different sport. Have other passions in life that you can turn to when you’re not logging miles or lifting weights. 

Three : Keep some perspective on life. Yes, it is really important to turn up to training ready to work hard and in the right physical condition to do so. But you are not going to look back in 10 years time and think about that session, but you might look back in 10 years time and remember all the important celebrations you missed. Be flexible. 

Four : Don’t let one performance define you. Like I mentioned earlier, running is kinda a 24/7 thing, but you also need to have a 24 hour mind set. Celebrate or strop for a 24 hours, then move on, there is always more to come.

Five : Don’t become a recluse. I recognise that rest and recovery is important, but even more important is making sure you maintain healthy relationships with people too. Make sure you take time to make that phone call or visit your friend. Not only does a good chat and a hot drink go down a treat, but your mental health will also thank you. 

Commitment to running is essential if you are to get the most out of yourself, but don’t allow running to commit you an unbalanced, unhealthy and reclusive life. Finding balance has shown me that you can run and be successful at the top level, but also smile, laugh and have fun. 

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