By Dan Dipiro
The other day, I had a great day of work. I worked hard on a project for over 13 hours and, when the day was done, I felt great about it. During that day, I blew off a track workout and didn’t mind doing it. This was different for me.
In the last years of my old job (which I quit in June), my work was not rewarding. It was, for the most part, easy, boring, frustrating, and unrewarding. This made me more reliant on, and devoted to, the rewards of running. Had work kept me from a track workout in those days, I’d have been unhappy about it — angry, frustrated.
I was doing double workouts then — starting many workdays with a morning run and then running at lunch too. Between running and working, it was definitely running that offered the richness and reward in my day, not the work. (Other things offered reward, like family, but I’m talking here about just the work/running balance.)
Now I have a new job, and I’m finding reward in my work again. On Wednesday, when track time rolled around, I simply had to keep working, had to miss the workout; I was working on a project with a tight deadline, and I had to deliver. But I didn’t mind missing track, because it was fun to be wrapped up in such a cool project and to feel like I was doing good work and delivering under pressure. I was getting my reward, and I didn’t mind that it was coming from my writing work and not my running.
So it seems my old, less rewarding job had me working harder at my running, and my new, rewarding job has me feeling okay about working less hard, at times, at my running. This makes me wonder about people who are more intense about their running than I am — the guys who work regular jobs and also run 100 miles per week and do well in the grand prix races and so forth. Do they have intense, rewarding jobs that they work hard at? …or are they doing perfunctory, mundane stuff during the workday and pouring themselves, emotionally, into their running?
My running isn’t slipping from me; I still got 50 miles in last week. And at the end of that intense day of work that had me missing track, I put on a reflective vest and headlamp and had a great, surprisingly fast run through the hills in the cool, dark night. I’m actually welcoming what changes my new work enthusiasm may bring to my running, because my training and racing could use a change, an injection of newness.
Maybe that newness will mean fewer planned workouts and more spontaneous training — more fitting runs in, here and there. I think it won’t mean my running will suffer. I think it’ll mean my running will just be different. And I welcome that. I welcome a new routine … or just less routine.
I’m trying something new today: racing with no GPS and no watch at all. I don’t want to monitor my pace every 30 seconds by GPS while I race. I want to break that habit, break that dependence, and race differently. I want to just race by feel and race the people around me.
Follow Dan on his blog Shodfoot Running, where Dan writes about training, racing, and living with Addison’s disease.