Recently this has been on my mind as I’ve been caught up in a frantic whirlwind of work, work and more work. Basically, if I’m not working, I’m sleeping. Now this is an insane combination and totally unsustainable. The realization hit me the other weekend when I went to Canberra to run the marathon! One of my goals this year has been to run a 1000km for the year and as part of that, run a marathon.
42km all at once is a hard slog. I did this once in the Relay for Life, when I was living in Orange. However, this was without the pressure of the race and basically it was just going around and around in circles on a playing field. Looking back, it was great that a group of high school students, who had been walking on and off throughout the evening, had seen me slowing down, but then encouraged me to keep going (around midnight) when I was about to give up having hit the 40km mark. With their encouragement and running beside me, I pushed through the stinging pain in my legs and jogged the last 2km before collapsing in a chair that took me until 1am to vacate.
Fast forward a couple of years and last year I got back into running. When I started to set some goals at the start of this year, running a marathon became one of them. So I booked my entry into the Canberra Marathon and during January got into training. I kept progressing and extending my runs from 6km (two laps of the beach near home). Up to 21km (the beach near home, plus the next two beaches to the north). All was looking good and if I kept increasing the distance I was training for, I’d easily be ready for the April race. However, February struck!
Once businesses and schools went back for the year, I found myself consumed by work. As I said before, if I were not working, I was sleeping and something had to give and that was everything outside of work, and I mean everything. My training stopped dead in its tracks and the only running I was doing was from meeting to meeting and eating unhealthily on the way. Not quite what was needed to be able to run 42km…
Two weeks ago, I reached the point where I knew I wasn’t prepared for a race of that length. Whilst much of a marathon is a mental battle, there’s also a massive physical component. Burning the candle at both ends ultimately has a cost, and the cost was achieving one of my important goals for the year. I reluctantly changed my entry from the full marathon to the half, knowing that was at least within my reach.
When I ran the half marathon, it was a good run. Thankfully, the training I’d done last year and early this year had paid off. However, it left me feeling unfulfilled. I’d wanted to do more and yet, because I’d been throwing all my energy at something else, I’d missed out on doing something that was important to me. I can only blame myself for letting it happen.
Reflecting on this, the reality is that work can never fulfill every aspect of your life. If it is, then you need to do something to change this, because at some point you’ll miss out on something that’s important to you, just as I did. I know I’ll find another marathon to run, but with this happening, it was a timely reminder that everyone needs to make sure there’s always time for themselves throughout their daily and weekly schedules, without which, you risk becoming the guy from
Arthur Miller’s ‘Death of A Salesman,’ and nobody really wants that.
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