Running over 300 miles taught me a lesson I thought I’d learned

I was an early(ish) adopter of CrossFit. I did the whole thing pretty seriously from 2006 – 2010. Greg Glassman, the founder of CrossFit, said something that really stuck with me, “Set a low trajectory on the horizon, or gravity will fix it for you.”

He means that you have to seek incremental improvements. This isn’t terribly different from Bill Gates’s “We often overestimate what we can do in a year, and underestimate what we can do in ten.”

We return, it seems, even to the rabbit and the hare.

I quoted Glassman dozens of times. To my wife. To friends. To players on my team. I felt as though I had really internalized the lesson. I encouraged caution in others when starting new things. I pushed for realistic goals over idealistic goals.

Looking back, I never really grokked what Glassman said. I had seen it. I had touched it. I had even used it and pushed it on others, but I did not have the perspective to master the idea and make it my own.

If you’ve read some recent posts, you likely understand that I’ve begun a journey with running. That continued in 2019. I ran hundreds of miles from Spring to Fall. I generally followed the ideas laid out in The New Alpinism and The Uphill Athlete.

I started running because endurance sports are sports that you can improve at with age and because they enable me to be better at the outdoor recreation that I enjoy the most. The hard part for me, an Enneagram 8, to get started with endurance running is to run slow and far day after day for weeks. My anaerobic energy systems were so dominant after years of CrossFit style intensity that it took weeks or months to bring my aerobic system into play.

The painstaking and seemingly interminable process made me realize how poorly I’ve gone about so many of my own goals. I should have been running slow for weeks at all of them. This is as true of my financial planning and investment ambitions as it is of my strength in meditation. I should’ve had the same outlook at the outset that I’d need 2-3 years to get to the level I wanted to be at now.

I should allow and encourage the people I work with, live with, and love to make progress in the same way. I should expect the same sort of potential and progress from my local and national institutions. If not, I should expect gravity to fix it.

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