Discoveries from the long run

by Jason on December 20, 2011 · 0 comments


I managed to put in ten miles on the treadmill this weekend.  In a single session, minus the reset time in the middle because the machine doesn’t let you plug in more than an hour at a go. Yes, it’s as exciting as it sounds.

That said, it was interesting.  My lungs held up.  My legs didn’t get tired, really.  I knew, going in, that I was going at a pace that I’d been able to sustain for every (lesser) distance I’d previously attempted at that speed.

It’s the other things that went wrong that fascinated me.  My right calf started to seize up around mile 8.  My left knee grew progressively wobblier.  The basic conditioning was there, but the weaknesses in the mechanical underpinnings were starting to emerge in a way that I never could have found without a prolonged stress test like this one.

Now that it’s been a year (almost) of running my own business full time, I’m seeing parallels to that run.  I know I can sustain a certain pace, with small sprints mixed in, and in theory I can do that forever.  But the holes in the underlying structure start to appear after a while.  You can push through most of it, but ultimately, just like with the long run, if you ignore the problems for too long, you’ll get an injury that takes you out of the game for months.  In fitness, that’s a setback.  In business, it can be fatal.

The end of December is a great time to notice this stuff and put plans in place to address them.  Everyone else is slacking off, and of course you’ve got the choice to do the same, or you can push through and try to accelerate past them, but as a third option, I’d strongly recommend looking for those aching joints and cramping muscles, and see if you can get some basic maintenance put into play to prevent problems in the next quarter.

What you don’t do matters more

by Jason on October 18, 2011 · 1 comment


A brief thought while watching the Toronto Waterfront Marathon this past weekend: fitness magazines focus on “do this” stuff.  Training programs, routines, and so on.  Most athletes, even elite ones, don’t do a lot to hide their regimen, and if you want to train exactly like someone else does, you can pretty easily do everything they do.


What’s not seen is what they don’t do.  If it is, it’s often in terms of the action, like “they don’t stay up until 1 in the morning” becomes “they go to bed at 10.”  The action is easier to imagine, but more importantly, there’s less of a concept of sacrifice.

The reality is, people who are successful in fitness, business, or other aspects of life often get there more by what they don’t do than what they do.  Achieving extraordinary results means more than just doing more than those around you; it means making a conscious decision not to engage in behaviours that others see as normal.  This is way harder, because as soon as the idea of not doing something comes into your head, the lizard brain kicks in and tries desperately to hold on to whatever it is.

There are various tricks to help with this, like overloading your routine with new stuff so you don’t have time, energy, or other resources to do the things you need to stop.  You can also work to hang around other people who’ve already recognized certain behaviours as things that take them away from their goal, which is a common recommendation, and a powerful idea, but even that brings up sacrifice in that you need to stop associating with people who follow the common path.

This is part of the loneliness of success, which is a whole other topic that’s possibly avoidable.  To begin with though, you need to start thinking about the “stop doing” list before you add more to the todo list.