“If you want to be happy, set a goal that commands your thoughts, liberates your energy and inspires your hope.”
– Andrew Carnegie
When it comes to running, this goal is very clearly etched in my mind – as a vision of me running joyfully at 100. As I begin my eleventh year as a recreational runner, I’ve learnt the importance of keeping pace and time stamps for cracking those short-term goals. But the last year, I was on study mode – where not every run was about the race day. As I revisited running just for the joy of it, I stumbled upon a few key realisations.
1. Running without an immediate goal is alright as long as the endgame is clear
We tend to get disappointed when we don’t meet the designated timestamp we set for ourselves. But those minor setbacks are irrelevant when you want to create something long-term and sustainable. As I’ve mentioned before, I’d consider my running career successful if I can still hit the races and run effortlessly in my twilight years.
2. Running should complement your work-life, not mirror it
While I have previously written about how some of the virtues of running can be applied to business, I noticed that my approach to work is a little different from running. Every task I set for myself at work has a very clear target, meanwhile, I run just to enjoy the journey. The time and pace I record is now secondary. This duality is perhaps what helps me compartmentalise my energy for work.
3. Running helps you realise the virtues of experience
The build up to each marathon I’ve run has helped me cultivate a great deal of patience. It’s made me a better listener and thus, a better negotiator. There is a greater value in growing at a steady pace, rather than sprinting to the finish line only to burn out at the end.
4. Running makes you learn every day, if you are passionate about it
A few friends have often asked me if running has become second nature to me – do the motions occur to me mechanically, like in the case of driving or swimming? I maintain that each run for me is a new experience because I am conscious of my environment, the mechanics of my body and each step I take. This is where enjoying the journey has its merits – you’re not running on autopilot, you’re picking up new things that only help you grow more.
5. Running doesn’t have to be lonely
2018 was also the year I offered to run with first time marathoners. It was rewarding to help someone else along their journey through the stages of a marathon, watching them experience their first 26th kilometre and achieve their personal best times. It was like reliving my own journey as a runner. Revisiting my experiences has made my runs even more meaningful now.
It’s strange that running, a sport that is designed around speed, has helped me realise the value of slowing down. I’ve learnt to stay with situations, rather than fast-forwarding to the result. It’s a practice that has made me supremely optimistic about the future of those who bide their time.