I run trails, but nowhere near distances like that, and I’m kind of fascinated by what it takes to run for that long. I found the instruction packet put together by the race organizers and about half of that consist of tips from previous finishers; it’s an inspiring and sobering read.
One finisher gives this advice: “Figure out ahead of time what would have to happen to make you quit and do not quit unless that thing happens.” Because inevitably things will come up that will make you want to stop: you’ll get hurt, or disoriented. You’ll fall behind your goal time. And if you’re open to a reason for stopping–you will find one.
So much of my own running comes down to this same thing: turning off the need to keep making decisions. Because it’s the process of deciding that pulls me out of running and into narratives about my running (should I walk now, should I speed up, am I running as well as I planned, am I a complete fraud?).
I think the same is true of work: blocking off time to work means time off from weighing it against competing demands: weighing its quality, it’s velocity.
Because if I’m open to a reason for switching to something else, I’ll find one. This is why the productivity suggestion to just “do your important stuff first” doesn’t work. “First” isn’t durable enough because you still have to make decisions about how long to stay at it. There is something about blocking off a start and an end time that stops the questions, lets you get quiet, and work.
|↑1||Photo is from the The 2007 Blueberry Picker Award, which recognizes the race’s last official finisher, Marc Greenberg (31:47), shown here approaching the finish line. “This was Marc’s 13th 100-mile finish. Both Marc and fellow runner David Bliss stopped for more than thirty minutes early in the race to help a sick runner get off the course safely. We believe Marc and Dave’s selfless acts capture the ethos of our sport perfectly. photo: Audrey Crissman.”|