Motivation Monday – Living for the Long Run

From the top you can't see what it took for me to get there, only that the land in the distance is FAR below.

From the top you can’t see what it took for me to get there, only that the land in the distance is FAR below.

There used to be a popular expression ‘In the Long Run’ (heck, the Eagles even made an album with that name in 1979), but isn’t an expression I hear much anymore. So when I was out shopping this weekend (my wife says I ‘have a problem’ with grocery shopping … not denying it). Anyway, I heard two women in their 30s joking around and one of them use the expression ‘in the long run’, and the other say ‘you are ALWAYS thinking about the long run’.

Not passing judgment, but it seemed very unlikely that the ‘long run’ she was referring to was the same type I had just completed an hour before. It made me think about the distinction between the two, and I spent much of my long run Sunday contemplating the differences between ‘LIVING for the long run’ and ‘living FOR the long run’.

Confused yet? Let me explain – one is looking forward to the immediate, the other takes a long view. Here are some thoughts.

Living FOR The Long Run

I have lamented about how we are in March and I feel that I have hated the ‘Polar Vortex’ sub-zero cold so much that I have wished away the months. That really bothers me, because life is too short to not make the most of every day.

But when it comes to runners, I know a lot of people who spend each week looking forward to getting out for a long run on the weekend, and get really upset if something comes along to mess up those plans. I have seen them miss events for their kids, rearrange other things and basically put everything else second in order to get that long run in when they planned.

It isn’t just a ‘runner thing’ – I know a lot of people who do similar things, such as:

– Wishing away their college years because they have a girl/boyfriend and are going it long distance … so rather than enjoying the now they are constantly looking to the next visit, next break, next summer and end of school.

– Not taking medicine / getting rest just so you can go to a concert.

– Wishing away the time when they are engaged before they get married.

– Skipping a huge event for family or life-long friends to hang out with a new friend.

– Thinking all week about the weekend.

– Doing a race while not fully recovered from injury because you need to accomplish something ‘now’.

– Once married, beginning to focus exclusively on ‘the baby’. And the next one … or getting ‘the girl’ or ‘the boy’.

– Focusing on getting your child to walk, talk, read, go to school, and on and on …

– Describing yourself as ‘in your thirties’ when you are 29, ‘pushing 50’ when you are 42, and so on.

– Railing against any system that wants you to wait as being ‘conservative and outdated’.

– Looking at every boy/girl your child brings home as ‘marriage material’.

– Spending your work week thinking towards retirement, when you have years to go.

All of these things have something in common: they fail to live in the now. Or, they ONLY live in the now. Either way, they look at life with such a narrow vision that the majority of consequences are ignored.

LIVING for The Long Run

The expression ‘in the long run’ used to mean a long view of things, similar to how I hear people use the expression ‘in the end’ now. For me it is the recognition of ‘life as marathon’.

Of course, it is easy to look and think that taking the long view ignores the short view – but that is not true. It is that it balances the now against the future. Here are a few thoughts:

– If running a pace 15 seconds per mile will get you a PR or a BQ, but pose an almost certain injury threat … you won’t do it.

– Making dreams come true for your kids might mean scaling back your own plans for a few years.

– If you need to miss a whole week of running because of the chance to see family or friends, you do it.

– If a parade your child is walking in gets reschedule over your long run … you stand in the cold/rain/whatever and wave at your child for the 15 seconds they can see you.

– You pick your battled at work, home, and everywhere else.

– Trying new things with the one you love is worth it 100% of the time – even if it doesn’t work out, it was an investment.

We all want to be around for as long as possible and to live as fully as we can. The concept of ‘having it all’ is insulting, because life is full of compromises and we need to make the best of all of the situations we are given. To do this, we set priorities – and guess what, even if you don’t do it explicitly, you are still doing it through your actions. The best we can do is to set up our priorities so they balance the things we NEED to do with what we WANT to do in a way that makes us happy now and can make us the most happy in the future.

So What is the Motivation?

Am I saying that there shouldn’t be short term focus in our lives? Of course not, how else would we ever get anywhere. I am saying that we must understand our short term choices in the context of the world around us and how we want to live the rest of our lives. When we are in our twenties it is natural to NOT think about being in our fifties … yet we must also be mindful that we are setting the course that will play out later in life.

I took the image at top while out running Sunday – I did some punishing hills, and when I got to the top of a very steep one, I looked back and realized you couldn’t see the approach, only the top and distance. Was it steep, curvy, windy, or what? We each have a path to take, and seeing the outcome doesn’t always tell us the path taken.

So how do you live your life?

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23 thoughts on “Motivation Monday – Living for the Long Run

  1. Love it! It’s a very careful balance between taking advantage of the moments and preparing for the future. We really needed to get some things done in the house yesterday after my LONG run but it was finally really nice out, I’m going to be really busy and gone a lot this week, so we spent the afternoon on the beach making memories. So worth it.

    • Totally worth it. And guess what – I can’t remember whether or not we did the dishes every day in a given month/year, but I sure as heck remember the special times we spent as a family or couple.

  2. I loved this! I have to admit, I wish I could live more in the moment. I am doing better at it now that my son is here, but I often get caught up in the future. I do find myself reminding myself to enjoy what is happening right now, so I think that is progress!

    • I don’t believe that it is easy to live in the moment, nor do I think it is like a light switch that you can just change up … I think having kids is a real milestone in many ways, because very often we can look and ask ourselves ‘did we enjoy them before they could walk/talk or wish it away’. My wife and I have talked about it and can honestly look back and feel good about not missing out on the stages of their life … thouhg in order to do so I know I made choices that have impacted my professional life (in the end, I am quite happy with the outcome).

  3. Love this. I’ve had to reteach myself in many ways to live in the present in the past year. It would have almost been impossible to get through sometimes without. You have to focus on one day at a time and everything else will eventually fall into place!

    • You talk about this a lot on your blog – and I really like seeing how honest you are with yourself about the need to work on it … and I think that self-awareness is key to making progress!

  4. I really like this post – there has to be a balance between planning for the future, but living now. I like to think that running helps me to do that… But then again, I am constantly thinking about race day. Luckily that just isn’t more than a few months away at any given time!

    • Thanks Laura … and there is nothing wrong with thinking about race day. As I get close to a race my wife and kids will work to ensure I get in my runs, they will build that focus into our family schedule. I think that is fine, but like anything looking towards race day shouldn’t even mess with dealing with work or family or other things. At least not TOO much 🙂

  5. Great post! I hate to admit that I do often forget this very important point, and I focus on things “in the long run” rather than just slowing down and taking it one day at a time. It’s something I’ve been working on, especially lately!

    • Thanks Anna! I really think there are times in all of our lives where these things get out of balance, and I think it is natural at certain times to look at ‘the next thing’ … but eventually it all needs to balance out.

  6. Awesome picture, and post. I’m constantly striving to live more in the moment and LIVE for the long run, and I think I’m doing much better, but it will be a long journey for me. Your example of standing in the wind/ rain/ cold to watch your child’s parade made me smile and realize how selfless my own parents are/ were!

    • Thanks! I look at my pictures, and whereas some people (like my wife and younger son) are amazing photographers, I always feel like I suck the life out of any scene. 🙂

      Hopefully now that you are transitioning into your new career path and not so much ‘living out of a suitcase’ you can shift focus. I know I struggled last year when I had to do so much work travel, but once I accepted it I was able to make the most of my time there and the experience.

      And … the marching band is playing in the St. Patrick’s Parade this weekend … forecast to be ~30F and raw. Joy. 🙂

  7. I love how you correlated it to running, yet the overall message of this post can be (in most ways) associated in other areas of life.

    Personally, I feel like a constant work in progress, but one which is progressing…I hope!

  8. It is a balancing act, past present future. The past is nice because you can learn from mistakes and bask in pleasant memories. The future is important because planning helps you achieve your goals and make future present moments go more smoothly. And then there’s the present, which is often neglected. I think electronics and continuous communication (texts, instagrams, blogs 🙂 , etc) have pulled people further away from the present, where they are never actually right here in the now, they’re always someplace else.

    • Thanks – great points!

      It is funny – I look at social media as being about the ‘immediate’ rather than the present – they are a communication form ‘in the now’ that pulls you away from being with those who are physically with you. And some things like Twitter can become so overwhelming that you can lose hours very easily …

  9. Pingback: Wednesday Wandering Mind – My Like, Dislike, Will, Won’t Thoughts on Random Topics | Running Around the Bend

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