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It’s an uber-busy world we live in these days as our domain continually becomes more global and time zones less of an obstacle. Work/life seems less like a balance and more like an awkward blend, and we’re always pressed for time.

/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/openroad_227360.jpgIn The Office: We’re constantly responding to emails while bouncing from meeting to meeting or relentlessly attacking the latest fire drill. We eat from our desks; rarely take any breaks and then chant “Goose-fra-bah” all the way home as we battle thru traffic.

At Home: Kids are maniacs! They need more attention than a Jack Russell and if it’s not undivided attention, it won’t suffice. Combine that with dinner, dishes, bedtime stories, some quality time with the better half and before you know it… bedtime… repeat… repeat.

In this chaotic life it’s easy to unknowingly shrivel into task-oriented doing rather than results-oriented thinking. The “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality gets us by but doesn’t make us better. Ironically, all this nonstop activity leaves little time to stay in shape. And that could be killing us! According to one study, lack of exercise causes as many as 1 in 10 premature deaths around the world each year. My solution is just as paradoxical as the problem: slow down and start running. But the sheer thought of running for an hour on a weekend can be quite terrifying. So think less… in fact, don’t even think about running at all!

The greatest difficulty in a long run is cerebral because let’s face it… running is boring! Instead, focus those brain waves on what you’re not doing in the office rather than what you are doing on the trail.  Here are 6 quick thoughts – one for every mile – that popped into my head during my last run in the sand:

Mile 1: Initial thought of the serene views of Brigantine Beach quickly overcome by the thought of running 6 miles – instantly making me feel tired.

Breakdown: Focusing on the end goal can be overwhelming at times; instead concentrate on the “quick wins” or baby steps needed to best achieve that goal beyond the horizon.

Mile 2: Keep brain occupied on anything but this run, let your body tackle that task. This is the point in the run where I decided to write this blog.

Breakdown: Exercising your brain through creative thought is a great way to stay sharp, uncover new solutions and increase efficiency. Not to mention, it’ll increase your workout results – this is one of the reasons why it’s good to run with music.

Mile 3: Just keep striding to the ½ way point, it’s easy to turn around early and still feel accomplished, but you can do better! Once you’re ½ way, all you have to do is run back.

Breakdown:  Don’t be lazy and don’t settle. Partially achieving goals can be beneficial, but if the goal is 6 and you run 5.5 –guess what, you failed! Laziness is a secret ingredient for failure.  Work Hard, Play Hard >>> simultaneously.

Mile 4: Finally made the turn and I can see the footsteps taken to get this far; perfect time for some self-reflection.

Breakdown: “Walking the walk” is a big part of leadership.There is a natural tendency to attribute all our successes to ourselves and all our failures to forces beyond our control; when in fact it’s our job to understand how our experiences shape the way we see the world. Ensure your actions are leaving a positive footprint.

Mile 5: Soldier On! By now the ankle is a bit sore; maybe even the knees and the lower back too. This mile, focus on embracing the suck!

Breakdown: Making the best of bad situations is what separates success from failure. Use this as an exercise for mental toughness and resiliency. Now it’s time to redeploy your thoughts back to the run, about how awful you feel and about how easy it would be to rest for just a few seconds. Nothing worthwhile ever comes easy, projects rarely go according to plan and the fog of war affects us all.

Mile 6: It’s the home stretch and everything is falling into place. No matter how tired you are, sprint the last 20 or 30 yards and finish this run faster than you started it.

Breakdown:  You’ve heard this before, but the world is full of good starters, we need more good finishers. Quarters 1-3 in the office or the court required massive amounts of effort for success, don’t negate it all by failing to show up at crunch time in Q4 when your team needs you most.    

Now get out there and Run Like Never Before, no one ever drowned from a little sweat. And follow me @airsomers – I’d be glad to run with you. Also, I’d love to hear feedback on your strategy to rack up the miles.

“Methinks that the moment my legs began to move, my thoughts began to flow.” – Henry David Thoreau

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14 Comments

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  1. Akshay Gupta

    Hi Ryan,

    Couldn’t agree more with you.

    You articulated it very well in terms of Miles, inspirational.

    Yes, its indeed a busy world out there, and it may sound apparent that physical exercise or lets say *running* will drop the energy levels, but instead it’s the opposite.

    Personally speaking, the morning I miss the workout i feel lethargic through out the day. By lunch time, I start getting distracted by the thoughts of having missed the morning workout, but then I carry on and catch up with it later in the evening.

    Running is good in a number of ways, some of which I believe is:

    • It help’s you to think and focus and reach to your inner self during the moments when you have totally pumped yourself up.
    • It help’s to shatter your own limits and break the Status Quo, in a way you set yourself a challenge which isn’t easy and then you try to Rise above it. Then you will learn a lot about how to rise from challenges in everything.
    • It’s good for health, and of course you will look good. And if you look good, then you will feel good too inside out.

    I could add more but that won’t appeal to every one I guess.

    And two more things that I would like to add:

    1) I don’t go for Long Runs, I find HIIT more appealing to meet my fitness objectives.

    2) There is this thing 2WW (Second Wind Workout) to fuel your energy in the evening after a big day at work, so as to get the important things done in what is left-over of the day.

    Regards,

    Akshay.

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    1. Ryan Somers Post author

      Thanks Aksay, and I couldn’t agree more!  I find that working out not only gives me the energy to finish the day, but it also sets my diet up for success.  It’s much easier for me to stay the course and eat healthy, on days that I excercise (I guess we call that a triple-bonus).  In terms of running, I’ve found that mud runs (specifically the Tough Mudder) is a great way to keep your mind off of running and really have some fun!  Plus, they donate a portion of your entry fee to charity – I love to Compete For A Cause.  I also like to train by running for 4 minutes, then do 1 minute of another exercise (like burpees or situps) and then repeat for an hour.  It breaks up the monatony and adds strength training to the workout. 

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      1. Elizabeth Griesser

        Love the idea of doing 4 minutes of running and 1 minute of another exercise. I might have to build that into one of my shorter runs doing my training. Sounds like a fun way to shake things up.

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    1. Ryan Somers Post author

      Thanks Aby, and of course – sometimes its easier said than done, but it all boils down to mile 5…. sucking it up and exercising!

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  2. Elizabeth Griesser

    Ryan, great blog! I marathon train and face a lot of long runs throughout the year. Some are easy and it feels like you get through them in the blink of an eye and some are miserably long and it seems as though I’m analyzing every step, more or less, mile. I love your metaphor and how you tie this back to health, fitness and our daily activities including the work day. Like Akshay I find myself sluggish if I haven’t gotten outdoors or to the gym and enjoyed a bit of physical activity. It makes me a happier, better person and, at work, more productive! The exercise fuels my day and I feel that when I return to my desk after a good run or workout during lunch, I’m re-energized and refreshed for the afternoon. As for those tough runs that you just can’t wait to bail on at any minute, they’ll always be there just as there will always be challenges in business and life. They are what make us stronger runners and people. As you suggest, working to actively engage (distract) your mind in different ways during your run will help (music, social running (my preference), going to a scenic place you’ve never been, thinking through a new challenge you face and tasking yourself with thinking of one new resolution each mile). It not only gets you through the run but maybe you can solve some world mysteries along the way.

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    1. Ryan Somers Post author

      Liz – I’ve seen you on the soccer pitch, so I know what you’re capable of 😎 .  And I can’t imagine you “sluggish” or “unhappy” ever – so I take it you’ve never missed a workout… good for you!

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  3. Ramesh Ramakrishnan

    Ryan

    Modern life has become a bit of a treadmill, you gotto run to stay in the same place (everything look the same). So yes, getting off it and running on real thing energizes a person mentally and physically before again jumping onto the treadmill.

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    1. Ryan Somers Post author

      Yes, I’m not a fan of the “hampster wheel” by any means… in fact, I’ve read some articles about running barefoot and the positive connections of the “foot to earth” concept.  I must admit, that I don’t have a deep understanding on this ideology but I’m interested… and I know that I tend to enjoy my runs more when they’re barefoot and on the beach so maybe there’s something to it.

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  4. Jason Cao

    Hi Ryan, great blog! Thanks for sharing. 🙂

    I get your message of “embracing the suck!” It’s so easy to get discouraged at this stage when the ‘buzz’ or ‘new-car smell’ dissipates. I take stock of successes in these cases, and envision a re-charged state for myself.

    What are your thoughts about folks who create ‘exit strategies’ for themselves? Is this a smart-move or a cop-out?

    Cheers,
    Jason

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    1. Ryan Somers Post author

      Hi Jason,

      Thanks for the comment… and short answer: exit strategies all depend on the execution.  Businesses (and projects for that matter) have a life cycle and lack of preparation based on this understanding is irresponsible.  In my mind, the key is to leave whatever it is your leaving – better than you found it and even more importantly, ensuring that the strategy in play is tailored toward the replacement and focuses on setting he/she up for success.  Knowledge is power and in my opinion, too many people withold it rather than embracing the collaborative fluids through sharing.

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  5. Nigel James

    Great thoughts Ryan Somers . Personally I am not a runner but I love to cycle. This year I have been getting the rubber on the road and looking for the challenging hills and not coasting downhill all the way.

    It makes a difference.

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    1. Ryan Somers Post author

      Ah, opposites attract – I’m not a big cyclist but plan to get more involved as I have a goal of completing my first Iron Man when I turn 40 (to cope 😉 ), but luckily I’ve got a few years to prepare.

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  6. Sarah Kim

    Great blog Ryan!  Agree that running is the best medicine for everything from stress to email overload to just running to prevent the after lunch coma.  I never listen to music when I run, even when logging long, long runs to prep for a marathon.  When you release your mind and let it wander, you can really have some great breakthroughs and insighs.

    And I love the term “embracing the suck” by the way 😉

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