Are you a ‘sprinter’ or a ‘marathon’ runner?

April edition / By Camilla / April 6, 2023

Unlike what the headline might lead you to think, this monthly edition is not about running. It’s about your daily pace, and an invitation to reflect on the pace that you’re keeping. 

Many of us continuously keep a high pace focusing on getting things done, all the time, trying to get to the bottom of the famous to-do-list. 

But the harsh truth is that your to-do-list will never be emptied. You will never be finished! There will always be things to do…

I think we all know this, at least deep down inside. Yet we often keep a pace as if we actually can get to the bottom of the list. And often we fool ourselves thinking ‘when we’re done’ then we can finally take a bit of well-deserved rest, or then we can go for a walk, spend more time with loved ones.

I meet so many clients that are going through life as ‘sprinters’. The pace is high, sometimes crazy high even. And sure, they get a whole lot of things done. Yet, some feel just like shit, most feel overwhelmed, and almost everyone is exhausted. And this is not an awesome way of feeling going through your life… right!? 

To be clear, so we’re on the same ‘page’ here, a sprinter is supposed to keep a high(er) pace, as the race (the distance) they are running is fairly short. A marathon on the other hand requires a whole different approach. If one starts running a marathon distance, with the sprinter-pace very few (!) can keep that pace, before the body starts (here or there) to say NO. 

Now imagine your life as this race. 

Most likely you don’t want it to be sprinter-short. We all hope for a long & happy life, at least the length of an ultramarathon (or even longer), yes?!?

If we in brain, heart & gut can realize that we will never ‘be done’, that we will never be finished… we might decide that we want to change a few things here & there on how we live this one, precious life of ours. 

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” 

My first suggestion, and reason for writing you this, is that you begin to adjust your pace at which you’re doing things. To adapt the mentality of being more like a ‘marathon runner’. To have a pace that you can keep day in, and day out. 

In the March edition I shared how the practice of ‘creating buffers’ can make a huge difference on our wellbeing (read it here). Reducing (or at least here and there adjusting) your pace can, improve your quality of life. 

Think about it, if you had to keep going and going, never getting to the end of the list, never being finished, what would be a pace that you could keep, while still keeping yourself ’together’? A pace were you wouldn’t need to spend the whole weekend in bed/on the sofa because you have no energy left? Not compromising on getting your essential (7-9) hours of sleep? Not cutting down on making yourself & your long term health a priority? Not popping headache pills (used to be me) as candy to make it through the week? Not feeling you have to have that glass of wine/beer at the end of the day in order to relax? 

Don’t get me wrong, being a sprinter sometimes, is perfectly fine, if it’s not ALL THE TIME. We are not created for keeping that pace, that way of living, in the long run. I’m not suggesting that you should stop doing things, become totally unproductive or lazy. I’m not saying to not drink a glass of nice wine, or hang in the sofa, or use aspirin when you have a headache. 

What I am saying is that when we realize that we will never be finished, no matter how fast we are ‘running’ we might decide to do things at a different pace. We might decide to shift our priorities. We might decide to stop working on time, to get home to our families to spend proper time (and energy) with them, the people we say we love the most, and who often are our highest priority, but who often get ‘the worst’ of us because we’re just exhausted. 

Or it might mean that we close down our computer (cause we won’t be finished anyways) and get into those gym clothes, or walking shoes, and make our physical body & our brain (more on that connection in another edition) our priority for a while every (!) day.

Or we might decide to stop cleaning & organizing our house/garage because it’s such lovely weather outside, and just get outside instead while it’s still nice, not when we’re ‘done’.

Or maybe we decide to take a day off, half a day even, in the middle of the week, as a little treat and go to the beach for a long walk when it’s less crowded. Or whatever, as the Americans would say it, floats your boat 🙂

“Stop creating a life you need a vacation from.”

As we will never be finished, never get to the bottom of the to-do list, maybe today is as good time as any to take time, to actually make (!) the time, to reflect on what is a good life for you? Seriously, what is it that you want to make time for in your life? 

Instead of being a sprinter rushing through the things, (through your days & life,) trying to get it all done now, allow yourself to a different pace. One that you can keep in the long run, and one where you actually have energy and hopefully good health enough to enjoy your life. Remember, this is it, this is not a rehearsal… THIS IS YOUR LIFE!

This Easter weekend might just be the perfect long-weekend to make yourself a cup of coffee (or tea), and to sit down with yourself and your thoughts, to reflect on the pace you’re keeping. How might it be different, knowing, I mean really knowing, deep in your gut-kind-of-knowing, that you will never ever have an empty to-do list, you will never be finished?

This monthly edition is inspired by a book I recently read with the fabulous under-title “time-management for mortals”.

Here you can read the MARCH edition: 'Stop setting yourself up for failure'