Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Improve Your Productivity - Go For a Run

Here's the key to having a clear mind and operating your business effectively: don't neglect your body.

More specifically, what you should try to do as often as possible is go for a run.

I know, I know. You've never liked running. You think back to those cold, miserable p.e. lessons at school when it always seemed to be raining and you got a stitch and you just wanted to give up and everyone seemed to be faster than you. But that was then, this is now! I never used to like running, either.

I love running now, and that's not just because I'm worried about not training enough and having a heart attack ten minutes after the start of my next marathon. Apart from the health benefits, it's the only time during the day when I'm completely free to think about what I want.

During the day, there are too many distractions. Email arriving every few minutes. Spam to grumble over and delete. Telephone calls from advertising salespeople. Coffee to make. Biscuits to eat. There's never a chance to step back and look at things objectively.

Running gives you that. I don't know what the actual physiological effect on the brain of all that bobbing up and down is, but it's almost as if the clutter you carry around in your head gets jiggled together and solutions come to you as if by magic. I'm sometimes a bit dense, so it took time for me to realise this, but when I stopped to think about it recently I had to admit to myself that almost without exception, the best and most effective ideas I've had for my business (and not just business; ideas for how to run my life) have come while I've been running. When you're stuck in the office staring at the mouse cursor blinking dumbly back at you, there's just no way you can come up with new and creative answers. You need to get some fresh air.

When I did the London Marathon two years ago, although I enjoyed training with running partners in the months before the race, I always had to run at the same pace as them and had to, well, make conversation! You're running with friends, so you can't just clam up for two hours, right? It didn't give me time to switch off. I run alone now and it's better, much though I may sometimes miss the company. I can go at the speed I want, don't have to concentrate too much on the outside world other than avoiding being run over, and while the legs are taking care of themselves I can drift away and think about things. For me, being able to run at my own pace is very important.

That's also why I don't listen to music any more when I'm out running. Why? Because when you run to music you're forced to listen to the songs and subconsciously trapped into slowing down or speeding up according to the beat of what you're listening to. I always find myself going a little bit loopy when I can't quite run quickly enough for the song I'm listening to. So no more music. Besides, it's dangerous to not be able to hear what's going on around you.

So what do you think? Will you have a go for me? Running's cheap, you know. Don't need to pay out for gym classes, personal trainers or exercise equipment. Just get yourself a comfortable pair of running shoes from a reputable shop and you're set.

You're too old, you say? Too overweight? Don't have the time? Believe me, it's never too late. Don't worry about your speed, because the only one you're racing against is yourself. And you'll never find time to do new things; you have to make the time.

A tip before and after your run (very important): S-T-R-E-T-C-H your legs. It'll dramatically lower the risk of injury. Try to lean over and touch your toes while keeping your legs straight. It'll be tricky at first, but you'll get there.

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