Thursday, December 4, 2008

Running on Empty

I was flipping through the November Runner’s World, noticing how brilliant the advice was, not only for running, but for life.

Eat healthy (before and after your runs); you’ll go farther and recover quicker. Who shouldn’t follow this advice, even without the running?

We’re all in a hurry but you can eat healthy on the cheap. Too true. While the big mac is quick, how much money and time does it take to sauté a piece of chicken and a few veggies?

Use strategies to achieve your goal: visualize success; use mantras to keep you going. Think about any of the challenges you face in life. Whether it’s giving a talk in public, asking someone out on a date or getting a huge project finished, visualizing the desired outcome, or the most desirable outcome (the audience applauding wildly, the datee swooning at the ask, the boss offering an immediate promotion) is useful. Using a mantra to keep you going (I'm taking deep, cleansing breaths; I can do [fill in the blank]) is also a good trick.

Set a few goals, not just the big one, so it’s okay if you don’t beat your personal best this time. You’re applying for jobs, so you set your sights high, but also apply for a few safe options; they’d be fine if they have to be. You may ask several people out, even though there’s one you think is to die for. It’s great to do better than your best on a project, but sometimes you run out of time and have to save some of that greatness for the next one.

Make it fun. Taking a buddy is the typical runner’s answer to making the trek fun. Or taking your iPod. Hmmmm. I’ve never considered listening to Dane Cook on my iPod while running. It could work. For other enterprises, humor tends to make giving talks more fun, taking breaks for fun helps get big projects completed more easily, picturing the Pinocchio nose growing, as your potential date gives the lamest excuse for why h/she can’t go out with you, eases the pain. In short, try not to take yourself so seriously.

If you’ve gotten off track (so to speak), get back into it slowly and deliberately. Doesn’t this apply to anything? Dating? Writing your next novel? Painting your house? Piano lessons?

Friends help motivate us to get out there. Of course! Enough said.

After the big race, there’s a bit of an anticlimax. What can you do to make it better? Planning a post-event party, even a tiny one with a single close friend, is a good way to cushion yourself from the letdown that can happen. Or, to really cushion it; get a massage.

And my personal favorite, why should I run? This is the question that plagues beginners reaching their first plateau, and long-time runners in a slump. You know why you run or do anything else. You’ve already listed the reasons in your head for giving the talk, asking for the date, taking on the impossible project. So go for it.

So there's no need to run on empty. Good strategies are good strategies, whether we apply them to something physical, metaphysical or psychological.

Everyone I know, everywhere I go, people need some reason to believe. Jackson Browne

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