Monday Musing 18: Lessons in Doing Nothing
In all of the years I have been a runner, an outdoor enthusiast, and a chronically busy overachiever, I can hardly remember a day without an objective.
Today started no different; I ate breakfast with the intent of beginning the Saturday I’d planned all week. Starting with emails and a side of breakfast, a morning dog walk, or even a jog if my post-100-mile legs were feeling up to it. I thought Iʻd hit the yoga studio, clean the house in prep for renters, and fill the rest of my time with more emails, more chores, mundane tasks, and busy work to keep myself from sitting still. A Saturday without a long run scheduled is an opportunity to get ahead, after all.
By the time I finished my coffee, I found myself compromising the time I’d leave the house, pushing it back by 30 minutes to make room for another bowl of cereal. After 30 minutes, I audibly apologized to my dog, who could see the couch becoming the priority over her walk. A rarity.
The truth is, I am a professional trail runner with two full-time jobs in the wake of a gutsy finish and a product launch in the same week, on the tail end of a year that has been filled to the brim with new projects and massive life changes. The downtime feels unfamiliar and even uncomfortable, but it also feels impossible to face all that needs to get done.
I made lists, and I made plans, but when it was time to peel my body off the worn loveseat in our living room, I told myself: “five more minutes.”
Now it’s 4:47 PM, and the only notable thing I’ve done today is wade through a pool of unread emails and respond to people who deserved a response way before this afternoon (sorry, guys).
I’ve spent my time sitting, reading a book that has been collecting dust on my shelf, feeling the wind through my window, and listening to the afternoon rain hitting the driveway. Tonight, I’m getting a burger with Carson and maybe indulging in a comedy special as we eat pumpkin pie with our hands.
So today, I haven’t done anything worth writing about in my training log and certainly haven’t done anything that would keep me fulfilled. But the fact that it’s now 5:01 PM, and I’m OK with having done nothing is telling.
There is a reason that I, someone who cannot sit still until her to-do list has been seen through, was able to neglect what could have been another busy day.
I’m tired. Not burnt out (yet) but tired from going through the motions of ensuring everything gets done. Of waking up at 5:30 to run by 7, to be working by 9, to have time for PT at 4, and to double before dark. From scheduling everything and adhering to the schedule because that is the only way things get done.
After months of working hard, I needed a day to say fuck it and eat an extra bowl of Cocoa Pebbles on the couch at 1 PM. I am walking the walk, resting, and recovering the way I preach athletes should after a big race. Truthfully, it might be the first time I've taken this time to relax without being forced through injury or fatigue so deep I considered quitting altogether.
I love this new life, but in this new life, I have to be sure to take care of myself before I take care of my endless to-do list. I didn’t have to run today. I didn’t have to do anything today. So I did nothing. How often does a day like this happen!??! Well, probably more often than I think. But what is not so frequent is a decision to take advantage of the downtime, allowing myself to gear up for whatever’s next.
In the last year, I realized that I need rhythm and routine to be my most productive self, but I also learned that days like today are as important as the ones spent in the high country or in Zoom. Tomorrow I will be better for doing nothing today. A clean slate in my search for rhythm in this life of travel and change.