Sprint the Straights & Jog the Curves

In high school I acted in a role that was unequivocally the toughest acting assignment I’ve ever had to this day. Through my junior year I competed in at least one if not several sports. I acted the role of ‘athlete.’ What’s the opposite of ‘gifted?’

It would be an understatement to say I was ‘not good’ at sports. I was pretty terrible, actually. The funny thing is that I do have one athletic attribute going for me. I was a decent sprinter. As long as there were no hurdles in the way and the path was both short and straight, I could run relatively fast (fastest I was ever timed was 100 meters in 11 seconds flat).

However, three other guys on the team were superior sprinters to me. If I’d gone to a smaller school, maybe I could have competed, but not where I went. So they threw me in with the distance runners. Why? Because they’d rather have a warm body run the race than not fill all three spots for each event. And we didn’t have a lot of distance runners, so I got to run both the two mile and mile for the JV team.

Distance running was nice in that I got into a bit better shape because of all the practices. But I was the slowest on the team. I remember the one – literally only one – time I didn’t come in dead last. I came in 2nd to last and that was a very proud moment.

I hated track practice. It was just calisthenics, running, jumping and stretching. I didn’t care for any of that. But there was one exercise we did that I actually enjoyed. On our oval track there were 200 meters of curves and 200 meters of straights (like an Olympic track). So, we would have to do 1600 meters (4 laps) where we went all out hard sprints each time we hit the straights. And then we were to half speed (jog) the curves.

Some of the guys hated this, because they were just sprinters and had no endurance to go that hard that many times in a short period. And a lot of the distance guys didn’t like the varied paces. Distance runners go at a quick pace, but they don’t consistently shift from jogging to sprinting very much at all. But for me, this exercise perfectly fit my weird mix of some endurance and some ability to sprint.

After I graduated high school, I would go back to that track sometimes and make a workout of the same exercise. And I remember it felt great – well, as great as exercise can feel. When are they gonna invent a pill that does the work for us? Anyway…

Why am I telling you this story? Other than the fact that I’m in love with the sound of my own voice – two reasons.

1. Sometimes the thing we respond to is ‘weird’ to other people. Go for it anyway.

I wasn’t good at most of track. But there was one thing that fit me and I still use it as part of my workouts to this day. Don’t shy away from the ‘weird’ thing. It might work better for you than anything else.

2. I think all of my endurance (mental, emotional & physical) might respond the same way.

I am a very overcommitted/spread thin kinda guy. Always have been. I take on too much and I follow thru with a good percentage of it, so I’m regularly busy.

Last night I stayed up pretty late to finish a personal project. And today I had planned to be incredibly productive after sleeping in a bit.

I slept til 11AM and then it was off to the races. I worked in one form or another minute by minute on various projects/upkeep. By 3:45, I was so drained. The idea of mentally focusing on another thing and another overwhelmed me. And I had to stop.

When I fail to do what I set out to do, I get either mad at myself or bummed out. And it’s never pleasant.

Fortunately, I was able to be okay with it after a while, because I convinced myself that I needed it. Then, randomly, I remembered the story I began this post with. And it donned on me that my productivity might be at its best when I ‘sprint the straights and jog the curves.’

In other words, there are some days where I will try to buckle down and get stuff done. But peppered amongst those will be days that I intentionally plan to do a little work, but then force myself to relax and do something I want to do (hang with a friend, read a book, watch TV, blog, play guitar, video games, etc.).

So, I’m going to only put the bare essentials on my to do list for tomorrow, because I know that I’ll be more apt to get stuff done on Thursday and/or Friday if I give myself a light day tomorrow.

Hopefully, this experiment will work and I can increase my productivity by also increasing my personal enjoyment of life.

Thanks, y’all!

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