The Task at Hand

The school district I teach for has shifted the timeframe in which students, families, and teachers learn their future class assignments. Instead of waiting until the summer, class rosters are now created in May and distributed to teachers and families before the summer hits. This week, I received my class roster for next year. That sucker didn’t get anything more than a passing glance, and went right into a file drawer. Why? I’ve still got three weeks of business to take care of with the class I currently have.

Therein lies one recipe for success in running, or being a great parent, an awesome spouse, happy employee, you name it.

Focus on the task at hand.

Give all of your energy, mental and physical, to the thing that lies immediately before you. Mental energy, like physical energy, is a finite resource we’re given. There’s only so much to go around each day, so use it wisely.

Imagine that you’ve registered for a race that covers a distance you’ve never done before, such as a half or full marathon. The actual race is most likely months away, so it makes no sense to waste an ounce of mental (or physical) energy today worrying about the race itself, or the killer long run or intense interval session that will eventually pop up on the training plan. What are the things that DO need attention today? Is there even a run scheduled? Is there core work that needs done? Have you gone through your stretches? Is the meal prep finished? A successful race is built one day at a time. So is a happy life.

I really enjoy doing interval workouts on the track, but have never quite understood why. While writing this post, I realized that one of the reasons that I love stepping on the track for some 500 -1600 meter repeats is that it forces a singular focus that is hard to attain as I go about the rest of my day. Once the warmup is complete and the session begins, it’s damn near impossible to think about anything other than accomplishing the current interval at the correct pace, with the best form, with the proper breathing. It does no good to worry about interval number six while you’re one lap into interval number two. If a successful race is built one day at a time, then a successful workout is built one interval at a time.

Being a parent is no different. The thing that our kids want the most from us is our time and attention. It’s easy to be so distracted by the deadlines at work, or the appointment next week, or the shopping trip that needs done this weekend, that we miss the kid with the pile of Legos or Nerf gun right in front of us!

Is there something looming on the horizon that’s eating up your mental energy? Try this simple exercise: Write that thing down on a piece of paper, give it a good look, then crumple it up and throw it away. Then, write down the things that need all of your energy TODAY. Keep that list with you as you go about your day.

I hope that everyone has a great TODAY!!! (We’ll tackle tomorrow when it gets here.)

Happy Trails,



2 Replies to “The Task at Hand”

  1. Great advice from a teacher – focus on the task at hand. I remember one time I went to a pasta dinner before a half marathon in Allentown, PA. There was a speaker who was a young, unknown runner. He looked like he was about 15 years old! I was not expecting much from his speech, but I was completely blown away. His message? Focus on the mile you’re in right now. The runner? Ryan Hall (before he won the Olympic Marathon Trials).


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