On Going for Perfection (Temporarily)

The-Idea-Of-PerfectionWay 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?

12 thoughts on “On Going for Perfection (Temporarily)

  1. I go into a self-loathing spiral if I miss a workout I had planned to do, so I try to plan very precisely in advance and not miss anything. Realistically, if anything gets dropped its the running, as that’s both the unscheduled thing and the thing I don’t like. But I try to do what I plan there too. This week’s plan, fwiw – boxing-heavy and lifting-light as I have a fight looming –

    Monday: Lift (high rep, low-med weight) in morning, group boxing workout at night.

    Tues: Run in morning (now), personal boxing training followed by group boxing workout at night.

    Wed: run in morning, spar at night

    Thurs: Lift (low-med weight) in morning, run in morning. (Everything will be closed in the afternoon and evening for american thanksgiving, which will drive me batty.)

    Fri: Lift (low-med weight) in morning, mid-day personal boxing training, mid-day group boxing workout.

    Sat: abs class for an hour, group boxing

    Sun: run in morning, spar in afternoon.

    1. You run a lot for someone who doesn’t like it. And you have no days off. Is that the usual schedule or just because you’re in the home stretch of training for a fight?

      1. I’m running a bit more to get conditioned for the fight, yeah, but the rest is about my usual, with a bit more boxing and less lifting than usual. I’m not a fan of total rest days. As long as I have rest days off each particular activity, that’s good enough for me.

    1. Yes (and at 3 for writing)! And I made it to the pool this morning for no other reason than my public declaration of a perfect week in this blog post!

  2. I’m cheap, and motivated by not wasting money. Therefore, my exercise routine is dictated by formal classes (master’s swim club, belly dance, ballet, riding lessons). I HATE missing a class that has already been paid for. Because I do lots of expensive classes, and live relatively close to work but have lousy public transit, I HATE paying for a bus pass and prefer to bike or walk. Between the two motivations, I get in at least an hour of brisk walking or half hour of cycling every day. The days when I don’t have a class are semi-rests, and sometimes I get Sunday in the winter as a full rest (though we are still swimming in cold water, the distance has shrunk considerably from our summer open-water swims).

    1. I also hate missing what I paid for, but I’ve started doing it more and it can also become a habit. Sounds as if you have lots going on and that those two motivations are working for you! Thanks for your comment!

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