“You are such a hardcore runner – how do you find the time?”
“I’m amazed at how you balance your family, career, running, and writing – how do you do it?”
These are a few comments I have seen on dailymile updates, or have heard from other friends when they find out the mileage I put in, plus the other “value added” activities. I’m not posting these to boast (and yes, I know that denial is the first step to confession – but trust me, that is not the case here), and “hardcore” refers really to effort, not to performance. But the answer to these questions is straightforward – I don’t do much else.
If you look at the examples of top performers – whether in business (like Steve Jobs), science (like Albert Einstein), or sport (like Peyton Manning), I am sure you will find that one of their defining attributes is the ability to avoid distraction. In fact, if you aren’t talking to them about their passion, I bet it would be a pretty dull conversation – I doubt a modern-day Einstein would be able to shed much light on the Colts dismal season, or Peyton Manning would be able to offer any insight as to the future of Apple, or that Steve Jobs could have held court on the discovery of a particle moving at a speed greater than that of light. Maybe they’d each love to be able to do so, but they have made sacrifices to focus on what is most important to them.
As a runner, you may have to make such hard choices yourself. If you really want to set and achieve aggressive goals to boost your confidence, what are you going to give up to do so? If you can’t give that up, are you going to compromise your running goals? It is important, and far more satisfying, to make hard choices early and plan for the results than it is to overstretch and fall short in many areas at once. As my wise father-in-law likes to say, “you can be anything you want – you just can’t be everything you want.”
I am first and foremost a family man. Of course none of these priorities is one-dimensional – they all have “tangents” that drive some of my time and focus. Having a son with autism, I pay attention to behavioral therapy approaches. As the husband to a pediatrician, I worry about health insurance trends and their impact on the structure of hospitals. As the father of two boys who possess some of my good and bad traits, I listen to ideas about how to stretch them, while teaching them to harness their impatience and energy towards productive pursuits.
I am also a business professional. In addition to holding a global role that places demands throughout the day, and seeking to excel in responsiveness and customer satisfaction while satisfying business demands for growth and profitability, I spend time studying personal productivity tools, and ideas for business strategy. I religiously read (actually, listen to – while in the car or sometimes on a run) The Economist to understand the macroeconomic environment and its impact on businesses. Which leaves me less time than I’d like to listen to running podcasts – but such is the nature of prioritization.
And finally, I am a runner – which means more than just training. I read books to find ideas on improving my physiological attributes. I seek inspiration through reading other blogs – and writing this one. I learn through exchanges of experiences with other runners.
But that’s largely it. Ask me when the NBA season will start, and expect a blank stare. My favorite movie? Well, I’m still stuck on Braveheart – I have seen few movies the last few years, other than occasionally on an international flight. And my favorite show is Phineas and Ferb, as it is about 80% of what I watch these days (with the boys, obviously). Oh yeah, I guess Cars 2 is my favorite movie – but I missed part of that taking one of the boys to the bathroom numerous times (we’re still working on his hydration strategies).
Any regrets? Oh sure, sometimes it’d be nice not to look so clueless in front of others when the topic of music comes up, or to partake of an entire Ohio State football game – or, rather, basketball game these days, I understand. But there are far less regrets than what I’d have if I tried to be everything I want, and fell short in the few things I really need to be.
And I only found out the Colts were so bad two weeks ago. Fortunately The Economist pointed out the news on the ultrafast particles.