Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Time – what is it worth?


  • Hurry up, we’re going to be late.
  • Can you believe the doctor is late? This rash REALLY itches
  • I can’t do that, I really don’t have the time. Let’s just do it already so I can get back to watching baseball.
  • You’re late!? Did you see one pink line or two? TWO!? Oh god.
  • That run was horrible, I can’t believe that I averaged 9:00/mile!
  • That run was amazing, I can’t believe that I averaged 9:00/mile!


The old cliché is that time is in unlimited supply but has infinite value. Day after day, minute after minute, more time is “created”. But eventually, through fate or misfortune, events transpire that show us how precious this unlimited resource truly is. Call it my mid life crisis, but over the past few months I’ve more and more realized that “stuff” isn’t important so much as time spent with those who make us who we are.

Oh, but I can hear you thinking to yourself! “I’m wasting time reading your crap, how valuable can my time be!?”   Well, how much would you pay to spend a few hours with a parent who had passed away?  What about a friend that moved across the country or that you’ve had a falling out with?  How much would you pay to spend a day with Jesus or Martin Luther King Jr?  Stuff is nice, but time is priceless.

As athletes (you are an athlete), we experience our careers/hobbies through the ever ticking of a stopwatch.  In running, time is an equalizer. There are caveats for weather, for course difficulty, but at the end of the day, if you run a marathon 10 min faster than you ever have in your life, that is 600 seconds of time gained.

I’ve ran a 3:04 marathon. I would love to run a 2:59. I like to joke that I would do horrible horrible things to be able to drop my marathon pace by 30 seconds/mile.  But, the more I train, the more I ponder what I would be willing to do for those 240 seconds. What pain would I put myself through for 9 seconds a mile? What personal or social sacrifices would I make for less time than I normally poop in a day?

As I continue to get older, I find myself thinking “how much is running time worth?”  What am I willing to do to continue to get faster? Thankfully, the answer thus far has always been “whatever it takes”.  But, that isn’t always going to be the answer.

Soon I’ll decide that “maintaining” is the order of the day.  No longer will I chase PRs, but instead will try to not slow down and keep my current level of fitness.

Do you think you’ll ever reach the point of not wanting to get any faster?  Maybe you’re already there – how do you reconcile that the stopwatch is always going to tick more than before?

13 comments:

Sean - Team HRE said...

Super blog topic. I wanted to be a gun Ultra Runner - and spent 12 months putting is some decent volume to improve from a marathoner to ultra runner. I don't think the time invested was worth the time I was missing with my kids and wife. I couldn't justify it. So I am running track now (200m-800m) which is less time but no less enjoyable. Maybe life is too short to be continually push the physical limits of your body for minimal return. There is a point where the risk of injury significantly increases with training load. Maybe you wont go any faster than 3.06 without breaking yourself. Maybe you have reached your limits.

Angela said...

GAAAAH can we please not talk about this. I don't know about you but I plan to continue PRing FOREVER.

Sue's Ramblings said...

I think I may be close; I've achieved my very modest goal and now run about average and am OK with my timings as long as I keep it to a certain range. Sure I wonder if I oculd go faster if I put in the effort and time. Oh I don't know...maybe I should think about it a bit more.

E.R. said...

Until I reach performance of an olympic contender, the only one who will ever really care about my pace is me.

Therefore, since becoming an olympic contender isn't on my list of priorities, any time I spend running beyond what would be necessary for maintaining a healthy cardio workout is time I've chosen to devote to a hobby of 'running'.

Granted, not all that extra time comes at the expense of spending time with other people. For example, my nightly run after 10pm means everyone is already asleep... so my real choice is "Do I want to spend the next hour surfing the web, watching Seinfeld or running?"

dasmixture.com said...

I realized the more I chased time the less fun running became. Then again, I have a different approach than most.

ltlindian said...

I had a similar less eloquent post just recently on how maybe training for a 70.3 is just too time consuming right now and maybe it's not possible. Or maybe I just don't want to do it.

You do have to find a balance for sure. I'm thinking I'm getting close to where I'm not PRing anymore. Although, I'm still pretty slow by a lot of standards so I guess there is room for improvement. But 3 kids, business owner and wife, just doesn't allow for a lot of extra training time. It's not my job and no one but me cares about it.

Shinianen said...

I've always preferred a well rounded list of physical activities, because that's what I enjoy.

So, yes - I may have spent 3 of my possible "run" days in a week doing group fitness classes or riding my bike, but who cares!? That's what made me happy in the moment. I can't see myself JUST focusing on running for months on end simply to hit a 30 second / mile improvement. I also can't see myself giving up time with my closest peeps on a regular basis because I'm overcommitted/overtraining in one particular sport.

As long as I can always finish a race or participate in the activity I want to do in that moment... the speed part (or lack there of), I can learn to accept.

Chad Chisholm said...

I've moved onto quality of a race over time. I think triathlons promote that in middle-of-the-pack age-group racers like me. It's hard to compare times across different triathlon courses, since they are all so different. That leads me to compare races by feel. "I was slower at Oceanside than Soma, but I felt better, and I pushed myself the whole race."

Terrible Dad said...

At age 62 after 37 years of running and over 65 thousand miles,I completely solved it this year....I switched my Garmin to kilometers and now I am setting PR's all over again!!!

Justin said...

Wow, incredibly timely topic for me right now Adam. Ironman Louisville is just 32 days away and all the training has really caused me to spend a lot of time away from the wife/kids which is making me feel more and more guilty. I PR'd in every distance last year (5/10k, 13.1, 26.2, 70.3) and have added new PRs in 13.1 and 26.2 this year I've kind of wondered "what's next?" Have I proved everything I had to prove? Should I just show up to Boston next year or should I train my ass off for it? 140.6 for me will not be a race, just a checkmark to call myself a complete athlete (only in my mind). After that, will I be done and want to move on to something else? I'll have to see how I feel come August 26th. Wow, your blog just got deep :)

Justin said...

Having said everything above... I'm incredibly grateful that whether you knew/know it or not you have been a great source of inspiration and competition for me over the past few (2 or so) years. While reading your posts, I've been judging myself against your current PR's on the right side of the page. Knowing your story has made me say... "If he can do that, I can do that!" #BQ

Members: said...

Come on man - lift your chin up. They are called races for a reason, to better your prior times and the times of everyone around you. Adam - Even though you just left Missoula, it seems you need to come back for some inspiration from Andy.

Kate Geisen said...

Clearly, a certain pace isn't worth enough to me to put in the time to get there, more a comment on my own laziness than how I value time.