Ever since I left university and started doing proper jobs I’ve always wanted to make time for running and intentionally avoided industries where working long hours is expected. This is probably why I quickly fell into the advertising industry when I moved to London and then a start-up!
At this stage of my life, working was just a job and running was very separate to that and was the main focus for me. This focus shifted over time and I definitely now see running as something I do outside of my work. As my professional life has taken up more of my headspace I’ve also noticed something quite interesting – running actually helps my work.
No problem is so big it can’t be solved by a two hour run – Anonymous (I made it up)
I’ve found that running is the only time of day I let my brain just drift and wander. I’m a mobile phone addict otherwise and a chronic multi-tasker where I flit from one task to another in a haphazard way that seems to work somehow. However when I run I daydream and my brain drifts towards areas that require problem solving. So many times I’ve finished a run with a much clearer plan of how to tackle a work problem – or mentally rehearsed things without even knowing it.
I don’t think this is anything new – it’s just a form of meditation and applies to any areas of life. However it’s something I’ve sort of built into my working day. I know I can think about things when I go running and I can put off trying to have a solution until I’ve let the run “work it’s magic”. It could well be no coincidence that as I’ve started to see running as more a way of life than “training” for performance that I think about different things while doing it.
I don’t have a formula for how long I need to run for to get a problem solved – I’m not sure it can work that way. Also, after a while all you can think about is when the run can stop as you get tired (or hot in Singapore!) so there’s probably a sweet spot before your brain focuses on survival rather than secondary problems!
So now when I leave work early and I get jokey comments like “Half day today is it?”, I respond with the title of this blog. Please don’t hold me responsible if your employers and colleagues are less understanding than mine though!