When Caitlyn Pilkington needs some clarity, she knows it’s time for a run.
The first sign is probably the fact that I’m writing this blog entry—I’m crawling to the finish of a long, long work month and celebrating my survival with a weeklong vaca of camping, no reception, altitude running and probably a beer—or two, or three.
So sign No. 1: You’re fried and write something about how you’re fried but are too fried to actually think about being fried. Ooooh, did somebody say French fries? Regardless if that’s true or not, I’ve absorbed some truths about myself over the last week that let me know it was time to disconnect from e-mail and reconnect with myself by way of a few lunchtime miles.
Note: These are based on my own experiences, feelings and shortcomings. In most instances, it’s fine to chomp on a handful of Reese’s sans running.
2. You start creating mental workouts according to your Spotify playlist at your desk. Once music starts distracting your mind from the actual tasks instead of tuning out white noise to actually get things done, it’s time to convert computer tunes to the iPod and step out the door. Head bobbing doesn’t work when your boss walks by.
3. You read the same sentence seven times and it still doesn’t make sense. Unless it’s terrible, terrible writing, re-reading something should result in a form of clarity. But if you’re just reading it over and over because you weren’t paying attention the first six times, that’s just not productive. Take a break and come back sweaty and refreshed, ready to read seven more sentences.
4. You’re eating everything. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I munch when I’m bored or maxed out on a thought. Call it brain food, call it sugar, call it waistline expansion—snacking is just plain procrastination or, in some cases, avoidance. I don’t need five cups of M&Ms in an hour—what I do need is five hilly miles around the office to counter what I just ate.
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5. You skipped your morning run. For those of you who follow me on Twitter, I MADE IT CLEAR TO NEVER SKIP A MONDAY RUN (exception: recovering from a Sunday race). This philosophy easily translates to every other day of the week. Unless I’m on a legit rest day, waiting to run until the evening for my first run just doesn’t work. I physically get jittery, and it’s a problem. This especially rings true on Fridays—does anyone else notice that if you don’t run in the morning on a Friday, the day never seems to end?
6. You’re texting every person in your phone—about running. “Hey—wanna run on Thursday?” (Sent on Monday morning.) “Remember when we did that hilly run and I had to walk? We should do it again next month.” (It never happens.) “I heard your runner boy crush is single now—I saw him out last night.” (Who cares?) Aside from the fact that you should text your absent coworker about the project that was due two days ago before your run bud, this situation is another classic form of procrastination. Just go do the damn hilly run now so you can show off to your friend in a month.
7. You’re pointing out every runner on the road to your friend. Guilty. I don’t know why, but I have this habit of pointing out good-form runners to passengers in my car. And rightfully so, they don’t care. Why is it that, even if we clock double digits before work, we still have a sense of laziness creep up when we see other runners out? You. Already. Ran. But it gets me every time.
8. You’re “liking” every weekend race post on Facebook. Everyone has a group of “friends” they don’t actually know. I know I do—and it’s justified with the good ol’ networking excuse. They run? Ohmygawd, so do I! But it’s when you’re creeping recaps, pics and results that it becomes an issue. You can’t race every Sunday, and neither can they. Think of it as inspiration—run it out, but don’t dip into race pace just because that guy you’ve never met ran a PR on a pancake-flat course with a strong tailwind and six pacers.
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9. You play with your hair all day. I do this thing where I either end up with my hair up or to the side, off my neck. Why? Because when I’m sweating, that’s most comfortable. And I spend a good chunk of my time either running or staying in running attire for the majority of the day. When I catch myself fiddling with my strands, it’s definitely time get a few miles in.
10. You start making to-do lists. OK, this is kind of relevant given that I’m off the grid for a week and have 1,000,000 things to do. But to-do lists turn into grocery lists (for camping gear), which turn into texts to the family (about the camping gear), which end in actually forgetting about what I was actually supposed to be doing (not making to-do lists). Run it out.
I would argue that I’m not a procrastinator, but I do procrastinate. I would defend myself, but raise your hand if you’ve never put something off until the day it’s due? According to my colleagues, the best ideas are dreamt up on the run, and the best work is completed the day it’s due—after you get your run in, of course.