Reality’s Clues

This morning I experienced a fun little synchronicity – reality’s way of dropping me an extra clue when I need it.

I went for my usual sunrise run, this time along a paved running and biking path that circles the outskirts of Las Vegas, known as the Beltway Trail. Here are some pics of what it looks like:

I was finishing up the audiobook Surge by Mike Michalowicz. He noted the common adage that runners who start out too fast end up walking sooner. I’ve heard that many times before. It’s similar to the expression that life is a marathon, not a sprint.

A few minutes later, another runner came from from behind me and passed me on the trail. She said something to me as she was passing, but I couldn’t make it out because of my headphones. I figured it was something like the usual good morning greetings that runners and cyclists often share at this time of day. Apparently she realized that I didn’t hear her since I didn’t respond right away. She turned around and looked back as she glided in front of me. I pulled off one of my earphones, and she smiled and said, “I’m not going as far as you,” seemingly suggesting that she was running faster than me because she was going a shorter distance.

It’s common for runners to pass each other simply due to speed differences, not to mention how people are affected differently by the many hills in the area. So it seemed odd that she’d mention it at all.

Another question that popped into my mind was: How did she know how far I was running? This morning’s run was 62 minutes, which is about average for me, but she passed me about halfway through the run. Maybe she was trailing me for a long time, or maybe she’s seen me running before, but I didn’t recognize her. So it struck me as odd. When I see other people running or cycling, I generally have no idea when they started or how far they’re going.

So objectively the brief interaction seemed a little confusing. But subjectively it does make sense to me.

Lately I’ve been pondering some new business and personal growth ideas, and I’ve been wanting to do something fun and ambitious. But I’ve been mostly boxing these ideas into the frame of going faster. While I’ve come up with some interesting possibilities, they don’t light me up across the full spectrum yet. I took this morning’s experience as a nudge from reality to approach this brainstorming differently – to use the frame of going further instead of faster.

Going further also suggests starting out slower. Instead of racing to get into action, spend more time in the idea phase. Nurture potential ideas longer. Explore more of the possibility space before locking onto a direction. Get aligned with a more gradual pacing rather than a short and intense burst.

This connects with some other experiences this year that have been pointing me in a similar direction. The virus situation shifted my thinking to focus on more gradual pacing and long-term investments. In the past few months, I’ve been racking up a lot of incremental wins in various areas of life, such as by doing meaningful optimizations and upgrades here and there. For example, I mentioned that I started doing daily food logging in May. I’ve now lost 12.4 pounds since I started, which has been really easy since the habit is on autopilot, and I enjoy how nicely it has raised my awareness of food choices.

I like when little hints from reality show up like this. They tend to come through most readily when I’m feeling open-minded, curious, and willing to invite and experience change. While I’ve loved working in sprints, followed by periods of rest, play, or vacation, I also like the idea of exploring marathon mode with a more sustainable pacing.

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