This will come as a shock to no one, but I tend to overcomplicate things. I do it in every aspect of my life – parenting, training, nutrition, cooking – everything. I usually do not get caught up in the planning phase, as I am definitely one who takes action but, I maybe take too much action and end up confused, exhausted and right back where I started.
A serial commenter on this blog, Gianna at Run, Lift, Repeat, wrote something that really struck me, after she read my piece on nutrition:
“…firmly believe we make things too complicated. On the running front I am happy that I was SO clueless when I first started distance running – my first halves (and current 3 year old PR) were all basically running start to finish no fuel/water. Now everyone is all you have to have x amount every x mins or you will die. I think we fail ourselves in just learning how to be in tune with your body.”
Now, obviously there are a lot of things I have learned since my first half-marathon that have been very helpful but, other then the right running shoes, sports bra, some water and fuel, there isn’t much else to it. However, a quick Google search will reveal you in fact need nine pieces of gear before stepping foot outside for a cold weather run:
I love gear as much as the next runner but honestly, the only “essential” gear is this:
Plus running shoes, of course! And Jess at Race, Pace, Jess just wrote this great article on Essential Running Gear That You Already Have for womensrunning.com. Great minds.
This started me thinking about what else I overcomplicate…
Train for a half marathon
My Overcomplicated Solution:
- Select or create a training program (this will take at least 2 hours)
- Talk to several friends and coerce them to do it too, think about not doing it if I’m going to have to run alone, blog about it many times over (obviously!)
- Plan out when I will need new running shoes so I can properly break them in prior to race day, schedule “buy new running shoes!” on my calendar.
- Plot out all long runs the night before or morning of and curse every hilly route I don’t want to take. Wonder why I didn’t plan this out two days prior but do the same thing the following week…and the week after…and the week after. End up running the same routes and thinking “that wasn’t so bad” afterward.
- Decide I need new x and y and z even though I already have at least two of each
- Realize halfway though training I haven’t done enough speed, distance and/or strength work
- Pile ALL of those on and get injured
- Run through the injury because the race is only two weeks away and I’ll be tapering soon anyway, and “taper” is exactly like rehabbing an injury.
- Dissect all my meals starting five days out from race day, obsess over how much sleep I need the night before, bring extra pairs of everything (including pins for my bib!) and lay out two different outfit choices in case the weather suddenly changes in the 20 minute period in which I am not checking it.
- Run the damn race.
The Simple Solution:
- Sign up for a race
- Train appropriately
- Run the race
- Hang out afterward and have fun and a beer
- Post pictures to all social media outlets, write blog post recap
Of course I don’t do all of those things to overcomplicate my training but, you get the idea. I’m pretty sure I have done all of them at one time or another and then, when race day comes, everything works out smoothly. In fact, in the hundred races or so that I have completed in my career, I have yet to not start or finish one. Still, I can drive myself crazy in the process.
Have the boys write legibly in kindergarten.
My Overcomplicated Solution:
- Freak out because something is obviously seriously wrong with their cognitive function since everyone else in their class has perfect penmanship. I know this after the Valentine holiday when mine are the only ones the children did not write themselves.
- Google everything about how to get your five year-old to write legibly.
- Sit them down each and every night and force them to write their names, the alphabet, numbers, anything that someone may be remotely able to identify on paper.
- They are miserable.
- I am miserable.
- Have conference with their teacher who says it’s perfectly normal but obviously did not see everyone else’s Valentine cards and knows nothing about teaching because I do.
- By the end of Kindergarten, one of my boys can sort of write his name and the other just furiously scribbles and/or puts letters in no particular order all over the page and declares it a sentence.
- I consider having them text everything they need to “write” for the rest of their lives. Who writes anything anymore anyway? Pffff
The Simple Solution:
- Do not compare my kids to anyone else’s and for God sake do not Google it!
- Create fun ways to work with them on handwriting for a few minutes at a time, a few days a week.
- Wait six months.
Unfortunately this is mostly a true story. I freaked out about how horrible their handwriting was last year, and now? Let’s just say, this Valentine’s Day I won’t be writing any of them out! Now, of course their writing is still far from perfect but I also see that it’s no big deal. Every skill I’ve agonized over since they were born has been attained in due time. I have absolutely learned to relax more where their learning is concerned and have found a pretty good balance…for now.
This is a big one. It’s hard enough to choose, shop and prepare meals on a daily basis but, when I factor in my training, talk to my coach and now a nutritionist, I start to wonder if all this is really necessary.
Then, I read this article from Melissa Burton’s Facebook page and realized that some people have completely gone off the deep end where food is concerned and I immediately felt a lot better about my nutrition “obsession.”
How Hollywood’s Favorite Juice Bar Owner Eats Everyday | Elle | Interview with Amanda Chantal Bacon
Just so you get a taste (ha!) for the ridiculousness of this woman:
“At 8am, I had a warm, morning chi drink on my way to the school drop off, drunk in the car! It contains more than 25 grams of plant protein, thanks to vanilla mushroom protein and stone ground almond butter, and also has the super endocrine, brain, immunity, and libido- boosting powers of Brain Dust, cordyceps, reishi, maca, and Shilajit resin. I throw ho shou wuand pearl in as part of my beauty regime. I chase it with three quinton shots for mineralization and two lipospheric vitamin B-complex packets for energy.”
Brain dust. The woman is eating brain dust. I don’t think my Big Y carries that. Clearly a note in the suggestion box is in order! And, the irony of her last name being “Bacon” is lost on no one.
Ok, back to reality…
Plan family dinners for the week.
My Overcomplicated Solution:
- Start thinking about what I want to eat this week vs what the boys will eat. My husband will eat anything.
- Keep thinking about it. Consider going with the same meals I always make because “I don’t have time!”
- Browse Pinterest and realize I cannot actually make the 25 things I just pinned.
- Tell Alexa my grocery list. Yes, she is my robot companion.
- Fail to plan enough time for grocery shopping and run around the store trying not to forget anything essential, never mind all the grandiose ideas I had for dinners.
- Make all the usuals for the week and go out/order out, at least twice.
- Feelings of failure permeate meals like a cheap spice
The Simple Solution
- Make meal planning a real priority if in fact it is one. < – – spoiler alert – it’s not!
- Eat real food, and have boys at least try what we are eating before feeding them chicken, pasta or pizza again.
- Only pin things and do not attempt to actually make them, like everyone else does on Pinterest.
- Enjoy your food, whatever it is, and be happy for the health and love of the people you are eating it with.
And it’s just that simple.
Oh and add wine…
[Tweet “Are you overcomplicating things like #exercise, #parenting and #nutrition? Stop that! Read this!”]
What do you overcomplicate?
Had you seen/read the Elle article?
Do you have a minimalist approach to running and racing?
ahhhh I often say to friends how I just dont think life SHOULD be this complicated and that I feel as though I Have to have a hand it in.
The only thing I DONT COMPLICATE are workouts 🙂 so theres that? But the child? School? Hommework?
SEND HELP 🙂
You are the queen of simple workouts! And I mean that as a HUGE compliment.
As soon as I get myself help for the parenting/school/children I will pass along!!
Mentally writing a note to pick up Brain Dust. But I’ll probably forget it because clearly, I’m not on Brain Dust yet. The problem is that there is too many options. Remember KISS? Keep it simple stupid!
I considered using that as the post title 🙂
This is so true. While I don’t have kids, I can completely relate to the running aspect. This year since just keeping my running simple, I’ve been able to make a lot more improvements.
That is so great to hear because you have kicked so much butt already! I guess simple WORKS!
This is so great. I love how thought out this is!! I am notorious for over complicating things especially with my kids. Something come way easier to my eldest vs my youngest (and visa versa) and I spend a stupid amount of time analyzing it instead of letting it go and letting them develop on their own. I decided to stop taking run advice and really listen to what is happening with my body too. Since I’ve taken the focus off running and put iron strength training I’ve run much stronger miles more consistently. It’s all about what works for YOU as simply as possible!
You nailed it – it’s what works for YOU! Also, the huge oversight I made (and not to sound like an old lady) is social media is the mecca of comparison. I think our parents fared so much better then us, in the parenting game especially, because they didn’t KNOW what the heck was going on with anyone else’s kids!!
So glad you have found your STRONG!!!
Yes!! We could keep things so much simpler- why do we do this? I think it’s those of us who have some Type A characteristics (as most runners do) and we want to get it all just right.
But wow, that juice bar owner’s diet… who can do that? And as for healthy, I feel like her body might be a little shocked… we also have to take into consideration what foods our bodies are used to digesting (ancestry) and where there are found… could you forage all of those crazy herbs out on your own? Not like we could find fig bars and popcorn and dark chocolate either, but you know what I mean. 🙂 Keep it simple!
What do you mean runners are usually Type A? LOL 🙂
On eating: That is a very interesting point you made. It reminds me of Michael Pollan saying “If your great grandmother wouldn’t recognize it as food, don’t eat it!” Or something like that…
I LOVE this post!!!
This post is one of the many reasons why we are friends, my cosmic twin.
Thank you for pointing out how silly it is sometimes to be so very conscious of the minutiae. Taking a step back and a deep breath sometimes is life changing.
I won’t forget the message of this post. Thank you for writing it with thoughtfulness, humor and practicality.
Thank YOU! Honestly, Melissa, I so appreciate your words and support and truly hope you know how much I do. #CosmicTwinPowersActivate
I love this one dear! Now I’m going to force you to read this on a weekly basis. Would you like me to provide you additional topics to include within this subject?
I hope you weren’t stressing out about writing how to relax 😉
~ Johnny Chill
First of all – I’m shocked you already read this AND commented. It must be good.
Second, I don’t have to re-read it because I wrote it. I know you find this incredibly hard to believe but I DO think these things however, carrying them out is another matter entirely.
And no, no additional topics needed but thanks for your very gracious, non-selfish offer to help.
Thanks for writing this….with all the information being thrown at us about what to eat and not eat; how to run; how to strength train; how to dress; and how to drink it does become overcomplicated. Thanks again for making some of us feel that we are not the only ones out there feeling the way we do!
You are so welcome!! Thank you for reading and commenting.
Ahhh……. I definitely suffer from overcomplicating things. I love the comment on your nutrition post from the other blogger! I did not read that article about the crazies in LA, but just that little snippet is basically unreadable!! There is definitely no shortage of crazy people in LA (pot calling the kettle black), and I just try to ignore the craze. The best part of this post…. your handwriting solution of “wait 6 months”… YES!! Everyone is on a little bit of a different timeline….everyone needs to relax just a little.
I was waiting for your comment on the LA crazies – OMG. You seriously should read that entire article just for the “what the hell?” factor.
And YES, seriously just waiting for them to be ready was all I needed to do. Thanks Paria…now get back to your crazy life on the left coast!
Oh my friend- once you go simple you never go back! LOVE THIS! Love you! Sounds silly, but once stepping back to making things simple, it has brought down every stress level possible and makes life even better! At least for me it has. The Pinterest for meal planning made me laugh! And gear- as a fellow mama triathlete said to me when talking about my big race year ahead, not having all the CURRENT gear I “should” have and set coach for every element of my stride, swim, ride – “The athlete makes the gear, the gear doesn’t make the athlete!”. I go on that! My PR half for running was when I decided to race the month before and had 3 long runs in! 😉
OMG that is going to be my mantra!!! – The athlete makes the gear – YES!
Thank you so much Erin as you are the queen of simplicity – and I mean that in the best possible way!
So funny and relatable. I often overthink to the point of paralyzation (is that a word?) anyway, loved reading this and knowing. I’m not alone. I posted a very funny video to your fb post, hope you like it.
Thanks Stephanie and yes, I had seen that video! And, even if “paralyzation” isn’t a word, I know exactly what you mean!
1. I’m still working on ideas for how to get my 27 year old husband to write legibly. Please assist.
2. Vanilla mushroom protein? What? That entire paragraph? What?
3. Meal planning is the only way I survive the week.
Good luck with #1 and #2 and please help me with #3!
Oh I love this! I was such a minimalist in grad school: most of my peers had colored coordinated tabs and highlighters for their perfectly organized thesis notes and detailed writing schedules…and I just kept everything in a Google doc to search and just wrote. It sort of carries over to my running and especially carries over to my housekeeping.
I like mushrooms and I like vanilla but vanilla mushroom powder sounds sort of gross and wrong.
Thanks Laura for proving once again that it’s all about what is right for YOU! Love that you made it work with Google docs 🙂
And yes, it all sounds so wrong. Ugh.
This post definitely hits close to home. However, one those when I feel overwhelmed thanks to my self-inflicted over complication I just remember the wise words my mother taught me. “Everything is is simple. We make it complicated.”
Wise words indeed! I will remember those for myself. Thank you for sharing!
Nodding and smiling here. Guilty as charged in some respects. I recall fondly my first half marathon. I had no clue what a “good” time even was. Just run. Ignorance is bliss sometimes. : )
Absolutely! Sometimes I wish I could go back to that time in running…although I don’t miss the chafing 🙂
As you know I love this post – and all so spot on 🙂
I think part of me simplifying on the running front comes from finally being diagnosed with Crohn’s at the end of 2014. Now that I am feeling mostly normal I had a bit of an epiphany with my body. Treat it well and respect it. Learn what works. Don’t do what everyone else and article is telling you, do what works for you and listen to your body. That was something my disease truly took away from me for years (I read all my race recaps prior to diagnosis talking about my “stomach issues” and feel sad it took so long to diagnose) the freedom to just run was never really mine.
And lol to pinterest in general. There is a reason I am not on it I am sure it would make me feel inadequate!
Here’s to not overcomplicating things as much!
Thank you so much for this great idea as this post is obviously a big hit! I’m sorry you had to find out how to simplify in the way that you did but at least it happened and now you can manage it for YOU. Looking back must be very hard, knowing what you know now!!
Ah, Pinterest. I love to hate it.
Thank you again!!
Where do you get all your energy? I was laughing so hard reading this post:) My fingers couldn’t find the keys fast enough to reply!
I overcomplicate nothing! I’m a minimalist through and through. ‘How much can I do with the least?’ is always my intention. This means economy of thought, economy of chores (killing 2 birds with 1 stone), economy of resources, economy of energy expenditure for maximum physical performance (training or racing), and economy in every other aspect of daily life; I’ve always been like that, but have perfected it the last few years.
I don’t have kids, so I can’t presume to comment, but I would say implementing your ‘simple solution’ would make all 3 of you much happier, and they will blossom to your amazement!
Isn’t that the ultimate oxymoron ’60min 2 figure music, 12min to run’? What’s the real purpose here, quelch biofeedback with a musical interlude; or listen, evaluate, and respond appropriately to what your body is trying to signal your brain as you train? If you listen, you might get more done with less?
Yes, so little is needed to run; but there are so many shinny objects. A few decades ago, it was RAINING really, REALLY hard in SoCal (it happened). Mudslides in the hills, PCH in Malibu was closed, Topanga canyon flooded, evacuations, houses were sliding off cliffsides. I was running 15Milers in the hills and loving it, fording rivers that had been streams!
No fancy rain gear: running shoes, shorts, a TS, and my favorite poncho from 82nd abn days in the military. That day I truly realized how little is indeed needed to run. Epiphany!! I also realized this was a metaphor for my life, so little is really needed to accomplish any task at hand.
Elle? Not even worth commenting, where do I start? Let’s just say it’s a sad commentary on the state of feeding the temple of the soul!
Johnny Chill has the right approach to feeding; you have to admit he’s totally minimalistic in his approach to nutrition. It makes your job so easy, wouldn’t it be nice if both your children ate that way?
I’m reminded of a recent blog post from ‘Canadian Expat Mom’ in which Lisa http://www.canadianexpatmom.com/2016/02/01/confusing-question-ask-expat/#comments
mentions: ‘These kids (Hers), ate Camembert before they had teeth’. Yes, I think offering your Children ‘real food’ b4 you give them Pizza might be a good move.
My approach to shopping is as uncomplicated as my diet.
I had a feeling you over complicate nothing Claude! And YES to running in the rain and just loving it without all the ‘fancy” gear. I have had some runs like that and they are THE BEST!!
Thank you for everything you said and I especially love how your approach to shopping is the same 🙂 Classic!
It’s why I’m not a triathlete. Too much equipment–I know I’d WAY over complicate it. I was thinking about this yesterday when I went out for my 430 am brutal cold snowy run. I had so many layers of clothing. And my spibelt with my phone. Earbuds. Garmin. Gloves. Hat. Shoes.
I did skip the YakTrax, so there’s that…
LOL! I did the same with my “easy” run of 4 miles yesterday in the snow…except I had the yaktrax and left the music. It took me 15 minutes to get out the door! Not so simple but very enjoyable.
I used to overcomplicate Holidays, and now I just know that I’m not Martha Stewart and let things be as they are.
I have started overcomplicating running, before it was put on shorts/leggings, sneakers, shirt and go…. and it has become Put on sneakers, compression sleeves, gps watch, awesome playlist, water, jelly, running socks… but to be fair, I was only running 2 miles at a time, and now it’s 6-17 depending on the day…. see, I’m overcomplicating my answer already.
I did not read the Elle article, but it made me hungry to just read the part you posted.
LOL – I know! I still do it too but I hear you on the holidays! I’m over it!!
Is it bad that read the title of this post and IMMEDIATELY said out loud “yes.”
Nope. That is the exact reaction I was looking for!!…and the same one I had…:-)
Wow, this one speaks to me! Yes, yes I do overcomplicate and overthink, all the time! I envy your husband for being so much more simplistic 🙂
My boyfriend always says that I worry too much about things – mostly because I’m making them too complicated. Oops? BUT ALL THE DETAILS. I think I worry more because he’s not worried. It’s a vicious cycle.
I’m always impressed by the amount of gear some people need for races, etc. Compression socks, something to hold your phone, headphones, headband, etc etc etc. I probably spent the first decade of my running career in cotton shorts and t-shirts – the only running “gear” I owned was a pair of tights (Chicago winters are not forgiving…) (and yes, ONE pair of tights…I’m sure they smelled) and some sports bras. I think they were from Kohl’s. I ran my first marathon in a cotton t-shirt, and I don’t remember it being the worst thing ever. The simpler times really weren’t that bad. (I say that now with an entire drawer stuffed with running clothes…)
I say the same to my husband and, when he does get worried – I completely freak out!!
I say the same exact thing now with my drawers (plural) filled with Althleta and Oiselle and Nike. I do still buy stuff from Target but it DOES wear a lot quicker. It’s fun to buy new gear but at some point I stop and think if it’s all really necessary which, of course it’s not!…but I will continue to buy 🙂