At the end of a tiring run I inevitably think about not really wanting to run again. But after a bit of time I forget that feeling and feel like going out again, perhaps going further. The mind is fluid, nothing is fixed, but some grooves are more worn than others.
I aim for the Icknield Road from Letchworth Station then trace the Icknield Way. Navigating distracts me and I don’t really notice the first five or six kilometers. The modern version of the pre-Roman route is well-maintained.
How will you measure your life, Clay Christensen asks. His ideas blur the boundary between the personal and business.
First, he explains that the theory of disruption says that what causes businesses to fall is that someone comes in at the bottom of the market and moves up. Running is disruptive. It takes time, it’s a fundamental activity. It is tiring. At some point after Ashwell I notice that I’m getting too warm. This is the inflection point. From here on it’s important to preserve energy and avoid thinking ahead.
Next is the preservation of modularity, which he says explains why the Euro doesn’t work and why SAP implementation systems are so difficult and complicated. A run can be broken up into chunks that are easier to think about. A goal can be modularised into runs. A struggle can be decomposed into breaths. What is interdependent and what is modular, and where is the boundary between the two?
The “jobs to be done” theory says that when we think about why we do things, the right unit to think about is the unit of a job. I don’t necessarily do something because of certain characteristics, but because there’s a job or a series of jobs to accomplish. So, what’s the job? It’s the job we need to understand. What’s the point in running on a Saturday morning? It’s a satisfying job to do in itself. And there’s the bigger GCR job of running between London and Royston, which may or may not be realistic. But it’s a job to work towards.
Sometimes the wind is behind me and the running is easy. But over time after fifteen kilometers or so, the temptation to think forward to the end becomes stronger. Energy runs out, the water is gone. It’s not exactly one step at a time, but the rhythm is staccato. It doesn’t feel like I’ve been running for two hours. What does a fifth hour of running feel like?
In terms of measuring a life, I think it will be interesting to review Strava (if it hasn’t been disrupted and purged like Geocities) at 80, to read the notes of a past self. Who was that person?