• Thomas Alexander

The Best of You for You, and for Running

Running in your best time

2021 arrived quickly after what, for most people, was the most unusual of years in 2020 with the virus we will not speak of creating massive changes in people’s work and personal lives. I have been one of the lucky ones with the ability to work from home assisting in creating a much better work/life balance which, to be honest, was just a phrase before as there was never any balance – work was work, and came first. Not everyone is as lucky as to have this opportunity but even with that aside, it’s been a time of contemplation and has encouraged me to think more about life in general, priorities and time management.


When I undertake coaching sessions for my staff at work, one of the topics that I always raise is the benefit of exercise and I encourage all staff to look at being their best and healthiest self, which makes for better experiences at work. In saying that, invariably life happens and after a hectic and sometimes stressful day at work, you go home exhausted and then have to do the shopping, cooking and so on.


It struck me whilst having these conversations that in many cases, we’re giving our best selves and the most of our limited energy to our jobs. Now, I’m certainly not advocating to not care about work – how would we buy running shoes without it? – but in terms of prioritising how we expend our energy it was food, plant based of course, for thought. I can’t remember how many times I’ve skipped sessions because I was stuck at work late, or too exhausted when I got home, or sessions that I’ve run but thought about work the whole time and to be fair, I’m not sure I owe my (or any) employer, that much of me. Below is a simplified illustration of my average day – with hair added for impact ;)


Pic borrowed from https://www.elegantthemes.com/blog/business/how-to-get-more-energy
So, light bulb moment, why am I not giving my best and most productive self to myself – to things I love and obviously in this example, to running? If I’m tired at work then I’m tired at work, but my running is done before anything else can distract my day.

Such a simple thought has really changed my approach and triggered some other changes in lifestyle too.


Sleep and time management

How many times has it felt like there’s just not enough time in the day? Yes, there will always be days when that is the case with busy lives but, there are 10,080 minutes in a week and I certainly had some ‘junk’ minutes in that time, and still do. By junk I mean time, which wasn’t spent being productive, working, with family or even actively relaxing – just doing nothing…


I read a short but interesting article called Why You Should Work While Others Are Sleeping which focused on 4-7am, or what they called, Magic Time and another lightbulb moment which utilises the most of our energy for our most important goals. Go to bed a little earlier, get up early and get done what YOU want to get done! So simple but I am definitely guilty of watching TV aimlessly, too lazy to even change the program when that time would be better spent sleeping so that I’m ready to go in the morning.


I do like quotes/mantras/bite sized chunks of summary/whatever you want to call them, only because they’re simple ways of remembering what’s important and I like this a lot:

‘The hours from 4AM to 7AM are magical hours. Most people are sleeping.This is when dreams get done…Goals become real…And the impossible happens.’

Why You Should Work While Others Are Sleeping – Time Management Ninja


So this is what I’ve been doing, and shocker... it works! I’ve been up at 4 or 5am in the dark, in the rain, cold, hungry and the appeal of a warm bed is overwhelming but I’ve been running and…. I love it. It’s not that I haven’t run in the morning’s before, but not consistently and I would have shifted a run to after work if the weather sucked, now I embrace it. I get out in the miserable weather with a smile and give the best of my day to myself and my running has improved as a result. I’m hitting targets better, I’m more focused – even on relaxing easy runs – and I’m not missing sessions anymore.


Balance

This is all very selfish stuff, of course running – and any sport we’re obsessed with – is inherently selfish but, being healthy, positive and happy means we can also give more, to our families, friends and yes, even employers. With all this said and done, balance is naturally important, urgent family situations arise or we can’t get sleep because of X,Y,Z, don’t stress, no workout is that important – so I’m speaking in general terms and as a guide to approaching exercise – not a strict regime that has to be adhered to 100% of the time.


As I said, this is simple stuff and perhaps I’m just really slow at realising how to prioritise my day, time and energy but it made such a difference to me that if it helps someone else, then sharing hasn’t been a waste. 🙏




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