Is Being “Busy” Keeping You From Your Ultra-running Goals?

This morning I woke, stretched my limbs, and meandered into the kitchen for an aromatic cup of java. Coffee in hand, I sit down at my desk and begin to work up my to-do list for the day. I know I need to get groceries, finish a couple of high priority work projects and put away laundry. I also want to clean and organize my closet, draft a blog post, journal, and walk the dog. In between tasks, I will need to take care of those daily needs such as personal hygiene and cleaning up after meals. Oh, and by the way, I hope to have time for family board games, finishing the mystery novel that has me hooked, and spending quality time with my hubby.

Looks like it will be another busy day. The question hovers in the air, when and where will I fit in my training run for my up-coming Zion 100K?

Busy, busy, busy. This is the first answer most people give when asked, “How are you?” or “How have you been?” And if you are like me and happen to have the rare occasion where you aren’t busy, a feeling of guilt descends and you think, “What am I forgetting? Where am I failing?”

I believe busyness has become an addiction in today’s world. It often feels like a compulsion or expectation that I will busy all day and if I am not busy then I am not doing it right.

Here is the problem with busy. Busy is a deceptive little fellow, dancing around keeping us occupied and unable to focus on our real goals. It fills our day, feeds our need to cross off to-do’s, and leads us to believe we are living a full life. The fallacy lurking in Busyness’s wake is the assumption that busy = getting after and accomplishing our goals.

The truth is that being busy is actually harming us and keeping us from living the fullest life we can live. It is in the moments of calm and reflection that we can hear the voice in our mind clarifying what is important, defining the needs of our hearts and minds, and sparking creative thought. So what does this have to do with meeting our ultra-running goals?

  1. Busyness interferes with training schedules
    1. Filling up the day with to-do’s puts the priority on the minutiae and not on training which is critical to reach your ultrarunning goals. Look at your schedule and determine what can be done later or not at all so training can be a priority.
  2. Busyness gives us an excuse for missing workouts, etc.
    1. When you make various to-do’s the priority, it becomes easy to justify missing a workout. But chances are, there are items on your to-do list that can wait for another day, training cannot if you want to be consistent. And consistency is critical for meeting ultrarunning goals.
  3. Busyness is the crypotnite of motivation and commitment
    1. When our busy schedules aren’t focused on meeting our priority goals, those to-do’s act like crytopnite for our motivation. We waste energy on the unimportant and save none for the important – like training to meet ultrarunning goals.
  4. Busyness is the seed bed of self-doubt
    1. Staying busy “feels” good but is deceptive and before long, self-doubt begins to creep in when you fail to meet your goals time and again.

So now that you understand why “being busy” does not serve your life, are you ready to kick busyness to the curb? Here are some strategies to help take the first steps in divorcing yourself from busyness.

  1. Clearly articulate your ultra-running goals
    1. It is important to know what you want to accomplish. If you have an A-Race and a time goal, your priorities will be different than if your goal is to enjoy ultrarunning adventures each weekend.
  2. Post your goals prominently
    1. Write down your goals in your training log, on a post-it note next to your computer or somewhere else you will see it regularly. In the day-to-day whirlwind of life, it helps to be reminded of what is important.
  3. Start your to-do list with those activities that help you reach your goal
    1. Maybe this means running before anything else or maybe it is scheduling running time on your calendar. The key is making your training a high priority and letting everything else that is less important slide.
  4. Forgive yourself if your day goes amiss
    1. Be prepared to forgive yourself if a higher priority keeps you from your training. A family emergency or last minute project with a deadline may require you put training on hold for a day. Don’t let yourself fall into a shame spiral if this happens.
  5. Start each new day as a fresh beginning
    1. Related to #4, if you do fall off track, each day is a chance to start fresh. Don’t use one missed workout as an excuse to start skipping them all.

Ultrarunning is a rewarding sport. It has helped me and so many others deal with the demons of depression. Having ultrarunning goals helps keep the motivation and excitement fresh, but to reach those goals, it takes daily commitment. Letting go of “busy” and committing to “focus” will provide the necessary foundation for running success.

The journey continues…

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