On Going for Perfection (Temporarily)

Way back in the early days of the blog, in fact it was almost exactly three years ago, I wrote a post called “Why I Like Challenges.” There I said that one of the things I like most about a challenge is:

A challenge is short-term. I can commit to 12 (or even 30) days of hot yoga, but I wouldn’t realistically commit to daily yoga for the whole year, or forever.  It focuses me for a period of time and the very fact that it is time-limited helps me to stick with it. I can return to my regular routine with a sense of accomplishment. And then the regular routine feels totally manageable.

I’m doing a bit of a riff on challenges this week, and here it is: my challenge is to do my workout schedule to perfection this week. Planning for one week of perfection means that I don’t expect to or need to be perfect all the time.

When Sam blogged the other day about her current workout schedule, she noted that it didn’t include a rest day:

This is a rough outline. I haven’t scheduled a day off because life happens and I’ll inevitably end up taking one. Tracy is a fan of planning and doing less. My realism takes the form of planning lots of workouts and not feeling bad missing some.

I may be a fan of planning and doing less, but the fact is, I have a lot of trouble scheduling in a rest day. But rather than thinking, “that’s okay because I’m going to miss something along the way anyway,” I usually actually go into each week thinking I’m going to make it. But then I don’t. And I do feel kind of bad even though, realistically, it’s inevitable.

You might think then, that my challenge this week ought to be about not feeling bad about missing stuff. But instead, I’m going to make it about trying to get it all in, just this week.  I’m aiming for perfection, but only temporarily.

Here’s the schedule from now until I leave in December to visit Renald:

Monday: running or spinning (I ran)

Tuesday: swimming in the morning; indoor group cycling class on the trainer after work

Wednesday: personal training

Thursday: running or rest

Friday: swimming in the morning; personal training after work

Saturday: running or rest (depending what happened on Thursday)

Sunday: long run

When I get back from the holidays, I’m adding a second indoor bike class (Saturday mornings), running on Thursdays, and Mondays as a scheduled day off.

Getting it all in will be a challenge. But like I said three years ago, I can do that for a short time. In actuality, like Sam, my “regular routine” involves the implicit assumption that most weeks I will not make it to every workout. My biggest bugaboo this fall has been the allure of staying in bed instead of going to the Y for my 6 a.m. swims.  If I’m going to make it, I absolutely have to get to bed early enough.

I’m not advocating that we aim for perfection. But I do think it’s fun to try for it temporarily. A week, going into it with a “challenge” mentality, seems about right to me.

What about you? Is your ideal routine a challenge or realistic? If it’s a challenge, do you roll with it, like Sam, going into the week expecting that a day off will just naturally emerge? Or do you feel as if you should be living up to perfection every week? If it’s not reasonable to think you’ll do it every week, how about just for one week?

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