Why I Run

We all have days that, for lack of a better expression, utterly suck. Mine was Tuesday, a bit over two weeks ago. Early morning, I finally made a long-postponed decision to resign board membership of a very promising consulting company. With all the fun and excitement about it, it was hugely time consuming – and I tend to have my plate full to the limit. Communicating it wasn’t easy, as the rest of the board are all my friends. On my way to the client, I got an interesting call from medical lab. Long story short, either I’d change a lot of things in my life, or I’d die sometime this year. This was new. Then, major political turmoil at one of my large accounts resulted in their cancellation of all consulting services. Including mine. As I had daily sync with my staff in the evening, I was clearly in what could be called a bad mood. As we were concluding the call, my operations manager – who knows me well – told me just one thing.

“Just go for a run”, she said.

With necessity to put fires all around, that was pretty much the last thing I wanted to do. My backlog of things to do nearly doubled that single day. All my priorities needed shifting, I was on the brink of pivoting majority of my life. Why the hell would I go running in that very moment?

Which is why, being an idiot, I never did.

Only next morning, following mere three hours of bad sleep, I forced myself to hit the road. The air was chilly, with hardly any people on the streets. Few kilometres later, I returned home devoid of three things: glycogen, fluids, and anxiety. Glycogen depletion is not a huge problem. You just need to load on carbohydrates and you’re back alive in a matter of minutes. It’s the same with fluids. Few sips of isotonic drink can do wonders.

My sudden loss of anxiety was a bit surprising. Everything that sucked the day before was still there. Yet, something was different. The very first thing I did upon returning home was firing up my command centre – calendar, Kanban, daily to-do list. I distinctly recall saying – out loud – to myself, “Okay, let’s crack on with this shit”.

Which is what I did.

And that’s what running – or any other aerobic activity – does to people. It forces people to stay alone with their thoughts, yet disallows them to do any other action. There’s nothing you can do while on the track. You cannot indulge in your fear of missing out. You cannot write emails. You cannot read.

You’re all alone.

Which, believe it or not, in our hectic world, is a bliss. We wake up. We check on Facebook while preparing breakfast. We read and write emails and social messages while eating. We do the same when commuting to work – which, ironically, means that autonomous cars are already ubiquitous. At work we either do epic shit, or something completely normal, or just fake activity, so that the boss cannot notice. Then our – apparently – autonomous vehicles drive back home, while we’re on some social network somewhere. Then there are chores, shopping, kids, whatever it is that composes our realities. Then we fall asleep. And then, the groundhog’s day replays until we die.

If we’re not actively seeking the moments of insight, we might live for decades without them.

Now, I hate running. I’m not good at it. I lose my breath very fast. I can have my heart pumping blood at over 180 beats per minute for over an hour, which is exhausting. I’m damn slow. Finally, when running I look in an impeccably undignified way.

Seriously, I have every reason there is to hate it.

Yet, I love it. It makes me a better human being. More conscious, more aware, more insightful.

That very morning, I really needed a perspective. And somewhere on the track, I got just that. As I crushed one kilometre after another, things got more and more clear. I realised what I needed to do. Then I got some rough idea how to get there. Upon returning home, all I had to do was to put the machine to work.

So, the next time shit hits the fan, don’t just stay in the draft. Just go and hit the track. No dire situation will fix itself without your action, just to be clear. You’ll get a better idea though – and that’s nothing short of priceless.

And you know what’s the best part?

You don’t have to wait for things to go wrong.

You can do it now.

Opinions are my own and not the views of my employers, customers, or clients.

Failed Agile Transformations ebook

Learn how to spot, avoid, and FIX them!