When in doubt, refer to Friends.

There’s an episode of the TV sitcom Friends where Chandler decides to quit the gym. He’s having a bit of an issue going through with it so ropes in Ross to come and provide some emotional support. ‘Be strong‘ is Ross’s advice. Kind of ironic advice to receive when trying to quit the place that makes you strong. The important point is that Chandler lacks the mental fortitude to carry on with his desires. Luckily for him Ross is able to provide that extra reinforcement and Chandler ends up quitting (the part where Ross subsequently signs up is not relevant here…).

Lately I’ve been having similar experiences with my work situation as I try to find a good balance between chasing my personal ambitions and honouring prior commitments. Since racing in The Alpine Challenge my life has had a different vibe than that of the start of the year and to bring you up to speed I’m going to race through it all in dot point form to save you some time:

  • I’ve re-commenced work as an outdoor instructor. This means I am no longer in the one place for more than a few days at a time as opposed to when I was a Pool Boy at the start of the year and could bank on staying at home for over a week at a time.
  • I have a housemate staying with me until mid-July. He’s a friendly, quiet fella who has specifically taken a job in Port Augusta (away from Melbourne where his girlfriend lives) so he can become a Permanent Resident of Australia. Kudos to his level of commitment/sacrifice.
  • The Bombers have been disappointing and demoralising to watch…
  • Planted over 30 plants and started constructing a small climbing training wall at home. See my Instagram page @huiapark_quorn for updates.
  • Received some products from Tarkine Running as my first ‘sponsor’ of sorts. (Use Code: TARKINE15 for 15% discount…)
  • Entered dog-act territory by cancelling some work commitments and re-jigging my calendar for the next month to allow me the opportunity to enter two more running races.
Running shoes from Tarkine Running.
A pair of Tarkine Goshawks. A great shoe made by a great Aussie company.

At times along the way in the last few weeks I’ve been looking to my varied sources of motivation to get that Ross effect of being strong and remaining committed to the path I’ve chosen. Being an outdoor instructor, it takes a bit more energy to find a training routine to settle into than it would if I was staying at my house every night where I am surrounded by reminders of what I’m aiming for. For the moments where I am not specifically working, (i.e. free time at night, hanging around the campsite in the mornings, eating etc) my mind wanders into the realm of ‘what would life be like if I wasn’t concerned with running races, climbs, cool trips…‘. In this life I could just focus on work without having to worry about when I’m going to fit in some training, how to schedule work around races and personal trips and what amount of cashflow do I need to keep in order to fund my personal ambitions for the times when I’m not working. I could eat whatever and whenever, play team sport, maybe even make some big coin and then spend it on the weekend at a fancy restaurant that serves oats and peanut butter really nicely? Sounds all pretty nice and a whole lot simpler…

And then I remember Ross. Be strong!

Some people say watching TV and movies and fictional stuff can be bad for you. Didn’t those people do English in school? Every high school English student knows that every piece of fictional work has some theme or message it’s trying to convey to the audience. And in this particular Friends episode I’m referring to it’s that things might be easier to go with the flow, stay with the gym, yield to the expectations of others on your life etc., but if you’re really sure of what you want you have to be strong in order to get there. And that’s what I’ve been telling myself a bit lately. I ummed and ahhed about cancelling 16 days of work that sure would’ve yielded some great financial returns for FD Pty Ltd. but would’ve sucked for the short-medium term future of my running. I didn’t want to disappoint anyone by cancelling but by not cancelling I was going to be disappointed with myself.

So, the question in my mind was: What has the least consequences, disappointing one employer who has the opportunity to try and find a last-minute replacement or risking negative personal growth in myself for at least the 16 days of work I was signed up for? (But who knows what longer effects it may have!) Who would feel aggrieved more? Does, and should, the absence of recognition for what I would be sacrificing in my life to honour my work commitment play a factor? I’m also aware it goes the other way in this sense too, in that am I aware of what my impact would have on the program itself, and yes, I am aware.

This would have been a good philosophical test for the old beard strokers in Greece back in the day or maybe I was just over-thinking it all. In the end I chose to cancel the work because I had to live with myself and I don’t know if me, myself and I would’ve been getting along with each other if I kept that particular work…

So what position does this leave me in? I think here’s a good time to look at my situation from somewhat more of a mathematical or computational perspective. In maths and computer science, formulas and code don’t care about how the numbers arrived or where they’re going. The formulae takes the inputs, does some stuff, then spits out the outputs. There is no emotion or room for over-thinking involved. By changing my work set-up I’ve essentially changed the formula I’m going to use which will have different effects on the outputs of course!

Inputs > Formula/Code > Outputs

Inputs (essentially my life over the last three weeks):
– Average of 150km a week of running for the past 3 weeks including two long runs and one hard session per week.
– 11 days of outdoor work plus associated pre and post trip time spent packing and unpacking.
– Limited rest time of which some has been spent stressing about work.

NEW Life Formula:
– Able to maintain current running load and introduce one extra tempo session per week.
– More rest and recovery time. Can dedicate this to watching the French Open too!
– Time to finish building climbing wall ready for July.
– 10 days of outdoor work (compared to 26).
– Ability to enter two more running races.
– More focus on personal improvement and less distraction at work.

Projected/Hoped for NEW Outputs by end of June:
– Fitter and faster for the Pichi Richi marathon on June 26.
– Completed a race, the Belair Marathon (held all on trails), organised by the same folk who organise the Heysen 105 (a major priority A race for me at the end of the year). This means there are less unknowns come Heysen 105 time.
– Practiced potential nutrition plan for Pichi Richi marathon in a race environment at the Belair Marathon.
– Put my hat in the ring for the Trail Running SA Series by entering Race 1 at Mt. Misery.
– Happier life by getting more time to rest and watch high level sport (French Open) and medium level sport… Essendon… yep, that’s where we are at as a club right now!
– A finished climbing wall.
– Less financial profit for FD Pty. Ltd.

The beauty of this particular formula is that I will yield results almost each week and can check in with myself to see how it’s going. If I’m getting the right outputs, great, I’ll let it run it’s course. If I’m not, I’ll have the opportunity to tinker with it a bit. But even if I don’t get any of the results I hoped for the whole exercise of running the ‘code’ will still have provided me with some results and life experiences that I can reflect on and use later on to refine the code to improve it. Plus, analysing my life in this mathematical format makes me feel like I’m getting some use of the skills I gained from my Mechanical and Sports Engineering degree!

If you’re interested, enter your email address below to keep tabs on the journey over the coming weeks to see how the ‘code’ is going. The first race I have entered for this period is on May 28 and it’ll all conclude hopefully with the Pichi Richi Marathon on June 26. If you’re not interested, well, what are you doing still reading this? Go do something else you’re interested in!

4 responses to “When in doubt, refer to Friends.”

  1. Craig McAuley Avatar
    Craig McAuley

    Good analysis , good thinking , good outcome. You’ve got life well and truly covered young fella!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. […] built! As I alluded to earlier, I have erected and finished Stage 1 of my climbing wall this week. This was one of the outputs I mentioned last week I was aiming to achieve in the next month so I was pretty happy to get it done. Allow me three […]

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  3. […] investing in experiences that will lead to me being a better outdoor athlete. In an earlier post, When In Doubt Refer to Friends, I listed several outcomes I was hoping for by the end of June in place of slaving away in a lot of […]

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  4. […] of decisions I have made along the way this year to focus more of my time on running as discussed here (all outcomes have been […]

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