Last Saturday I was in Miami – it was 75 degrees and it feel quite normal to be outside wandering the sidewalks of South Beach. This morning, a week later, I found myself figuring out how much clothing I need to wear to go for a seven mile run outside. It was 17 degrees and I was working hard to convince myself that it was not all that cold. Ok, Ok, stop your whining you are supposed to be a tough guy – so after that few seconds of mental digression I got my head on straight and remembered that when you dress for outside exercise you dress for 10 degrees warmer than the current air temperature. All that movement is supposed to warm you up. The only problem is that dressing for 27 degrees is not that much easier. So, I settled on a few key pieces of outdoor wear (Craft of course) and away I went running with my buddy Michael. It is quite hilly around here and up and down we went. We ran hard – less talking – more running. About three quarters of the way through the run, Michael turned to me and told me he would never run this fast if he was on his own. He stated that he found it hard to maintain this level of speed without someone to chase. It made me think about my track workouts this past year and how we used the stopwatch to measure our 100’s, 200’s and 400’s. The times and our desire to beat them caused us to push harder that we would do without the measurement. And so, little did he know he spawned my post for today.
This is a topic that I have thought about a lot. What is it about improving performance that requires that we have measurement, a “rabbit” aka pace setter, or some other external force to push you to go faster, or to work harder, or to do more than we might ordinarily do? Two answers that I have come up with over the years when running without an iPod. First is focus - we have a very hard time keeping our mind on the topic at hand. And even a minor loss of concentration decreases performance. The second is when we hang with faster people we accept the pain that it takes to keep up. The pain is justified in that context and you cannot readily find a way to justify it when you are on your own (well at least most of us cannot). And as much as I want to believe that I did not need a clock or a pacer or anything to get my maximum performance – I am now convinced that this is not the case. Yes, there have been times where I did just fine on my own setting our personal bests or at least good performance but I know for sure that I have done much better, gone faster, and performed better when I am with people who are faster, better, and more experienced than I.
I want to end this post by taking this exercise metaphor and apply it directly to the rest of life – Here is the headline - Hang with the smart people and you get smarter – Be part of a community of people with good values and you start treating others better and then Run with faster people and you will indeed get faster. Many of us hide from the high performers because we think we are too slow, not smart enough, or not good enough. We think we might be embarrassed by not being able to keep up. And so I challenge you to not fall into that trap. I challenge you to turn this one on its head. Seek out the faster, the smarter, the nicer – spend time with them – chase them – emulate them and then be better than them. It is the secret sauce of life – it costs nothing to be with “those” people and it only makes you better. What is even more ironic is that they want you to be with them. They want to help and they want you to get better. They do not see themselves slowing down but rather bringing you up to their pace. If you hang in there and do it enough then an even crazier thing happens – you become one of “them” – you are the fast one, the smart one, the gifted one – and others will seek you out and chase you, want to spend time with you, want to be like you! A better life could not be had. Give it a try – make it your life’s mission and others will too. Yea, Baby, Yea!!!!
I think it is day six and I have stuck with Green Sally - truly, just barely got to the end. I think if I had not looked at the time remaining I would have failed (sound familiar?). Then a weak 160 pushups on 4:17. Maybe I should try to do this before 11pm, ya think? I suppose there might be some time in one’s life when it would be necessary to be exerting yourself like this late at night but I am not coming up big on this one :-)
Loving life, that’s all
Thanks for reading