I wrote this blog at the top of a hill while trying not to vomit. Well, that’s where I thought of the title anyway. This year, I started running. And if that doesn’t impress you, then you don’t know me very well. I am the least athletic person I know. In elementary school kids teased me about my inability to do a cartwheel. In middle school basketball games, my dad paid me a quarter every time I actually touched the ball. In high school I got a varsity letter jacket…in marching band. Please do not let my poise on the keynote stage fool you. I know my strengths. The gym ain’t one of them.
My Running Journey
So I want you to keep my physical fitness “history” in mind when I tell you that on September 14th, I put on the only pair of athletic shoes I have ever purchased and started running. I used an app called “Couch to 5K” and you guys, it does exactly that. In 3 runs per week for 9 weeks it took me from behind my laptop, to the starting line of my first 5k race.
I only had ONE goal: Don’t. Stop. Running. I didn’t care how long it took, I just wanted to finish the race without walking and I did. I finished in just over 32 minutes, which isn’t horrible for a new runner, and I was pretty proud of myself.
Then I needed a new goal. I decided if I could do my first race in 32 minutes maybe I could try a bit harder and do the next in under 30. This time, I “trained” a little more (meaning I Googled “how to run faster” and begged my athletic friends for help.) I slowly made progress.
After 6 more weeks I found myself on the starting line of race #2. This time, I was wearing real running clothes, had a distance tracker talking in my ear, and had TWO goals: Don’t stop running AND finish in under 30 minutes.
Off we go! The entire first mile was up a steady hill. Psh. Nailed it. By mile marker 2 I was barely even tired. My app told me I was making great time. I was going to do it!! But by 2.5 miles I had a side cramp AND another hill to go. I was the delirious lady muttering “don’t stop…don’t stop…don’t stop” the whole way up the hill. When I got to the top, I didn’t know how I was going to finish. I felt like I was going to throw up. I knew I’d gotten caught up in the excitement of the race and had overdone it. I knew I needed to stop but couldn’t bear the thought of missing one of my goals. I knew that many runners here were using this 5k as their warm up to the marathon the next day. I was failing at their…..WARM UP.
I glanced at the photographer on the side of the road and thought, “You know what? He really doesn’t look like he needs to pick up a passed out runner today…” So….I stopped. I stopped running and caught my breath as I counted to 20. As I counted, I looked over at the curb and thought, “Who cares. I already missed my goal, I might as well just sit down.”
Slow Down to Speed Up
I ALMOST sat on that appealing block of concrete, but, I kept going. Mostly because that photographer was still standing there and I didn’t need a picture of my failure to show up on the internet somewhere. I started running again, a bit slower, but feeling MUCH better. As I rounded the bend to the finish line, I saw the finish clock click over to 28 minutes.
Are you kidding me?!?!” I thought. “I was on track to finish in 27 minutes and I blew it by stopping? The second number in my time could have been a 7 and now it’s going to be an 8?” But then, as I crossed the finish line I realized that I WASN’T on track to finish in 27 minutes. I was on track to pass out at the top of that hill. Stopping enabled me to finish. Knowing when to slow down enabled me to speed up.
The Time Management Connection
So what’s this all got to do with a time management blog? Plenty. We find ourselves at the top of that hill all the time. We push ourselves. We think that if we do just ONE more thing we’ll get there (wherever “there” is.) We think one more hour of work, one more Saturday at our computer, one more skipped lunch break will finally get us caught up so we aren’t drowning anymore. Success requires hard work, persistence, and dedication, but it also requires a frequent step back, a break, and some “time away.”
How many times have you been at your breaking point with a task, stepped away in frustration, only to succeed much more easily next time with a clear head? What if that step away time wasn’t viewed as a failure? What if we viewed it as just part of the process? A natural part of moving forward? It’s truly what The Time Diet is all about. We can’t expect to push ourselves 24/7, then expect ONE 3-day weekend to somehow reset all the stress from the past 6 months.
The Time Diet is all about balance. A delicate balance of meats (difficult things), vegetables (easy things) and desserts (fun things.) Of course some days will be more “meat heavy” than others, but we need to schedule those desserts frequently, even if they are short, or we risk throwing up and keeling over at the top of that hill (or whatever the analogous time management version of that is.)
I finished my 2nd 5k in 28 minutes 24 seconds- more than a minute and a half under my goal. I came in 432nd place out of 2,100 people who ran that day. The winner finished in 15 minutes. I have friends who run full on marathons like it’s no big thing, but I still strut around my living room like I’m the next Usain Bolt because this WAS a big thing for me.
I’m going to keep running. I have another 5k in February and want to do a 10k and MAYBE up to a half marathon eventually. I’m also going to keep up the insane pace at which I live my life, because I thrive on it, but I’m also going to continue to rest, frequently, since there is always another hill coming up and I’d like to be ready for it.
You Can Do It Too
Are you a student looking to improve your time management? Check out this awesome time management workbook to help bring balance and order to your hectic schedule.
Are you an adult with a crazy life looking to balance it all? Check out The Time Diet: Digestible Time Management
Thanks all! See you at the starting line.