Fitness Expectations – Finding a Balance

To be a successful runner we’re told you have to do certain things to be in “running shape.” More than speed work, hill repeats and long runs, we have to cross train, lift weights, do yoga, strengthen our core, stretch and foam roll (to name a few). Essentially, in order to run we have to do six other things…and do them well. We can’t half-a** stretching or ignore cross training or we risk injury.

Being a perfect runner is a full-time job, hence why professional/elite runners exist. These people dedicate all of their time and energy into being the best runner possible. Their prime running shape relies on the successful completion of other fitness activities.

But what about the rest of us who aren’t professionals? What about those of us who like to run but enjoy other forms of exercise? Do we have to go all-in on something?

Fitness expectations

I’ve realized how hard it is to maintain a high level of fitness across the board. It’s pretty impossible to be in long-run shape, HIIT shape, yoga shape, spinning shape, lifting shape, etc. at the same time. Something’s gotta give. Actually, a few things have to give. One being my self-imposed expectations and comparisons to others.

I like to mix up my workouts because I enjoy doing different things. I could say I don’t run everyday to prevent injuries, but honestly, I don’t run everyday because I just don’t want to. I want to do those other activities like yoga, weights or *gasp* take a rest day.

Even though some bloggers people are always training hardcore for a race or competition, they aren’t me. Low-intensity doesn’t make me less of a person. Plus, in real life, people don’t take exercise so seriously. At least not the people I associate with. Most people I know exercise the recommended 30 minutes 4-5 times a week. They aren’t killing themselves or their bodies to break records.

Fitness expectations

I’m not being paid to run a certain speed or cover a certain number of miles. I’m not being judged on how heavy I can lift or how flexible my hamstrings are (thank goodness on that one). Even if I had more time and motivation to do everything full-force I don’t think I’d want to. Physically, my body wouldn’t want to either.

I’m doing things in moderation…not feeling the need to perfect it all, and not comparing my journey with others. I think my body and mind are liking this relaxed approach.

*Joining a new-to-me link up, The Fit Dish Link Up, with Jill and Jessica. Thanks, ladies!*

How do you balance your workouts?

Do you favor one form of exercise over another?


  1. Sami says

    I have been struggling with my schedule for a long time now! I just can’t keep up the marathon training pace…then realized, why should I? If I’m not marathon training? I love to cross train and it actually makes me enjoy running more. I love going home after a long work day too!
    Sami recently posted…5 Benefits of Trail RunningMy Profile

  2. Brie @ Lean, Clean, & Brie says

    This is all so true. I think it is more important to do what you love rather than try to fit everything in. I do the workouts I love and if there is something I don’t enjoy doing- I don’t do it. I think having that balance is what brings me back to exercising each day, since it is something I love and not something I dread!
    Brie @ Lean, Clean, & Brie recently posted…Minted Picks + ReviewMy Profile

    • Emily says

      I don’t want exercise to ever become something I dread. I think varying what I do keeps it exciting and enjoyable!

  3. Sarah says

    I love this. I think taking a break from the blog world while I was focusing on recovering from my injury was really good for me. We can get jaded into thinking going hard all the time is normal when in reality it’s not at all. I do pretty much only run but I never purposely do speed work (my version of speed work is running with guys once in awhile) and I take 3 rest days a week now which is what I need to do. I want to go to yoga but it’s hard to find the motivation to go sometimes so I just don’t. Running takes no motivation for me because it’s what I love to do. I think you have a really great workout schedule going on and you’re more balanced in what you do each week than most people- especially in the blog world!
    Sarah recently posted…The Work-Life BalanceMy Profile

    • Emily says

      You know I completely agree. I laughed about how you get your speed work. I always run my fastest when I’m next to my dad on the treadmill because he “nicely” pushes me.
      Thanks for that last remark, I take that as a huge compliment :)

  4. Mary Beth Jackson says

    nice post! everyone must do what is right for them and their body! I run 3 times per week plus 1 yoga class- that is my ideal schedule. I also love to golf with my hubby when I can and try new things like paddleboarding or a new group class. One day at a time, I can live with finishing the race, I do not have to train to be first place :)
    Mary Beth Jackson recently posted…Something new with I-Tunes Podcasts!My Profile

  5. Rebecca @ Strength and Sunshine says

    This is so good Emily! I think more “bloggers” lie about half the stuff and intensity they do, haha! I don’t share my workout schedule on the blog because I don’t want comparison or whatever. I love how I don’t focus on ONE sport either. I love that my body can do EVERYTHING to the ability I want. Lifting, yoga, cycling, pilaties, and now even running. I love doing a little of everything and it makes me just so happy to be able to MOVE in all those aspects!
    Rebecca @ Strength and Sunshine recently posted…A Guide To Gluten-Free Flours + Homemade Oat Flour RecipeMy Profile

    • Emily says

      I have loved doing a little bit of everything lately, too! And not feeling so forced to get a longer workout in is nice. 15 minutes can be effective!

  6. Farrah says

    I love this, and definitely agree that finding a balance and doing what YOU enjoy in fitness is what’s most important! :] I’m not a fan of running, and mainly just lift weights, but I’ve been getting my cardio in through mixed martial arts and group fitness classes at my hospital’s gym! :D Welcome to the fitfam! I love Dish the Fit Tuesdays! :]
    Farrah recently posted…Rebel Fish & ProYo TreatsMy Profile

    • Emily says

      Finding what you enjoy is SO important. People get discouraged when they don’t like traditional cardio but there are so many other options.

  7. Liv @ Healthy Liv says

    I agree that in “real life,” people definitely don’t take exercise so seriously. (Both for good and for bad). In the blogging world, it does make it seem like the norm is to exercise 1+ hours 6 days per week, which really isn’t necessary for living a healthy life…but then again, there’s nothing wrong with it as long as it’s done in a careful and healthy way :)
    Liv @ Healthy Liv recently posted…Refocusing My RunningMy Profile

    • Emily says

      A few years ago I used to think that anything less than 4 miles wasn’t a “real workout.” I wanted that full hour of exercise, but that was not a healthy mindset. It can be done in a careful way if people vary their intensities and don’t always go all-out.

  8. Emily @ Sweets and Beets says

    Switching up your workouts not only keeps you in better shape, but it keeps things interesting as well! I’d be so bored if all I did was run, for example. But it’s so true what you said about being in “running shape” – needing to do strength, core, yoga, etc. as well. It’s a huge commitment! Like you, I’m gradually finding a balance of what level of “in shape” is realistic for my lifestyle, which means not comparing myself to others — or even to my college/post-grad-pre-job self! : )
    Emily @ Sweets and Beets recently posted…Healthy Treats That Do + Don’t Hit the SpotMy Profile

    • Emily says

      By varying my workouts it helps prevent the “uh, I have to workout” mindset. It keeps it fun! I compare my level of fitness to what it was in high school, early college, and during marathon training. Those “peak” levels of fitness aren’t sustainable for the longterm (at least I don’t think so). I try to think about areas that I have improved on over the years, like yoga!

  9. [email protected] says

    Well said! I think it’s important to really enjoy fitness to keep at it for life. Definitely finding balance with things and realizing it enhances your life, but isn’t your entire life is really healthy! I am a fitness instructor and trainer so I have to mix things up, but I really like that about what I do, because it really is built in balance. One day it’s ZUMBA and another day it’s a client and Spinning. Variety keeps you in overall better shape, I believe. At least that’s what I “preach”.
    [email protected] recently posted…Battling Ropes : Trying Something NewMy Profile

    • Emily says

      “It enhances your life, but isn’t your entire life” <– YES! That's exactly the approach I need to become more comfortable with. I agree, I think variety keeps you in better shape.

  10. Lauren says

    I totally agree and have been meaning to write a post like this-so you might see my take on it soon! Last week I felt guilty for taking 2 rest days. Are you serious? 5 days of exercise is awesome. It’s sometimes easy to forget that I can’t long run, speedwork, cross-train, lift, spin, and yoga all each week. Of course along with meal prepping, eating clean, drinking enough water, and getting enough sleep! Haha, you can’t do everything all the time!
    Lauren recently posted…Book Review: Ultra Marathon Man by Dean KarnazesMy Profile

    • Emily says

      I do the SAME thing! I feel guilty if I only run 3 times one week. I like to *think* I can do it all but it’s pretty impossible. I’m learning to be OK with that. Looking forward to reading your take :)

  11. Bri @ Simple Delights says

    I can SO relate to this post and am the same way. If I did the same workout day in and day out, I would be bored to tears. I love varying up my workouts! With fitness, I thrive off of balance and listening to my body. I always feel up to something whether it is a HIIT, a walk, dancing, exercise video, or even rest.

    • Emily says

      I’m glad we can relate :) I think varying my workouts will get/keep me in better shape. I could definitely work on building some muscles haha

  12. Montana @ Pretty Lil Mudder says

    At first, I struggled with balance because I did feel like I had to constantly “train” for the races I was doing or be 100% about yoga, or weight training, etc. Now, I’m listening to my body. If I feel like running, I go for a run! If I feel like doing a spin class, I spin! Same with other workouts. I get bored if I do one thing too intensely for too long. Plus currently, I’m not signed up for any road races for a while, so I’m just using fitness as a fun way to stay active! Great post!!
    Montana @ Pretty Lil Mudder recently posted…Try Something New and Convert To Skirt!My Profile

    • Emily says

      Thanks, Montana! I love your name btw :) It’s hard to break the “must give 100%” mindset, for me at least. I think the change of workouts keeps me passionate and excited about fitness.

  13. Ana Valentin says

    Great, great post! Those of us who are professed health and fitness nuts get really caught up in the numbers and times and intensity of our regime. We get both outwardly and inwardly competitive. We want to be the best and though we’re super supportive (at least I definitely am) there’s always an edge to be as close to perfect as possible. I suffered from food anxieties for awhile because of it. But taking a “break” (instead of 6 days a week i trained 2-3) gave me a renewed love and appreciation for food and exercise. It isn’t about perfection but loving and living what we’re doing fully. I support you and your extremely positive outlook on health and fitness. We can’t do it all, no matter what Toneitup or Blogilates might say or show us. They’re professionals and we’re full time students, workers etc on top of fitness junkies.
    Ana Valentin recently posted…A Day In The Life: Travel EditionMy Profile

    • Emily says

      I have nothing to add to this as I agree with everything :) Even just a few days off from running has given me a new appreciation for the sport. I want to love exercising for the rest of my life so taking breaks is necessary to prevent a burnout.

  14. Melanie says

    Great post!! I run every day and add in other activities like yoga and BodyPump. However, I’m not always in training mode or trying to kill it. I just can’t do that for long and it gives me burn out.
    Melanie recently posted…TOTR: Runner NutritionMy Profile

  15. jill conyers says

    Welcome to the #fitfam!

    I balance by doing the things I love. Right now my fitness balance is a lot of yoga, some running and a little bit of strength training. There was a time when all I ever wanted to do was run. Now? I’m loving the less intense balanced fitness approach :)

    Great read!
    jill conyers recently posted…Spread the LOVE GiveawayMy Profile

    • Emily says

      Thanks for hosting the link-up! Happy to join in :) I think I just got tired of always running, but I think in small doses it’s a great part of my life.

  16. Jodi says

    Balance is so hard and I know the key for me is finding what works best for ME and my husband. {empty nesters} And right now, in this phase of my life, its attending yoga twice a week at night, running 2 times during the week after work and 1-2 times on the weekend whenever works best. I am not a morning person, so I rarely run in the mornings unless the week gets crazy and I have no choice.
    Jodi recently posted…Honolulu Marathon ~ I RAN A FREAKING MARATHON!!!!!My Profile

    • Emily says

      Doing what works for you and adjusting fitness to your life is the best approach. And that can change every week!

  17. Linda @ The Fitty says

    This was. really reassuring, thanks, Emily! You really can’t be in shape for everything 365 days. of the year, some areas do have to give and I’m learning to accept that. whatever gives, I can always go back and work on later.

    I’m a cross country athlete, so this is very hard!
    Linda @ The Fitty recently posted…This “Elitism” Bullshit That Goes With Being Vegan {WIAW #11} {#LIPlinkup #16}My Profile

    • Emily says

      I ran cross country in high school, too. It’s hard when you’re in season because everything is all about running.

  18. Jessica Joy @The Fit Switch says

    So thrilled that you joined us, Emily! Love your blog, and so happy to meet you. Your perspective is so refreshing, and it’s so great to hear that we can’t be in top shape for all activities at once. I enjoy focusing on different sports and activities, just like you, but I have found that whenever I do more Insanity workouts, I PR in my races. When I dropped Insanity and focused on running, I got slower. haha. Figures. Looking forward to getting to your your beautiful self better! Take care!
    Jessica Joy @The Fit Switch recently posted…Learning To Jump Rope. The Fit Dish Link-Up.My Profile

    • says

      Thanks, Jessica! I’ve had a similar experience…when I focus on strength training I’m a faster runner. Guess that’s just another reason to mix-up my workouts. Hope you had a great weekend!

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