First 5k of 2017

I finally ran the first 5k of this season! I intend to run a 5k every weekend for rest of the spring and summer. I ran about twenty-five 5ks in 2015. But I did not run much in 2016. This year I try to do better again.

My running goal is modest: I just try to run a 5k each weekend. I start running around this time in October when days start getting longer and weather warmer. I stop running around March when days start getting shorter and wetter.

I can probably run a marathon or even a half of it if I train myself. But I find it hard to make time to train for such lofty goals. There are always other things to do. And I am more of a habits person than goals person. I don’t think I can run marathons habitually! So I settle for a 5k. As much as possible, I try to run non-stop and finish within twenty something minutes. That’s as ambitious as my running gets.

Here’s the FitBit map of my last weekend’s run:

First 5k of 2017

James Clear’s “1% Better Every Day” video

I learned a LOT about habits by reading James Clear’s blog. He has heaps of great posts on his site, but if I were to pick one, it is this: Identity-Based Habits: How to Actually Stick to Your Goals This Year. The gist is that: Building good habits and changing ourselves for better is all  about our identity (what we believe of ourselves and who we try to become), not performance (the actions we take) or appearance (what others say about us). Performance and appearance are great, but for habits to last, they should start from within, from your identity, from what kind of person you think you are. This powerful idea changed me for better over the last few years.

James recently delivered a great talk in which he talks about the power of small habits. Check it out here. It is about 25 minutes and is very well worth your time.

Following are my notes from that talk.

Aggregation of marginal gains.

Habits are the compound interest of self-improvement.

Good habits make your time ally. Bad habits make time your enemy.

Framework for forming better habits.

Four stages of habit formation: Noticing, Wanting, Doing and Liking.

Stage 1: Noticing

Implementation intentions.

Action step: Have a plan

Stage 2: Wanting

Design environment for encouraging good behaviors.

Put more steps between you and bad behaviors. Fewer steps between you and good behaviors.

Stage 3: Doing

Quantity vs quality. Put in the reps.

Repetitions matter. Iterations matter.

David Allen of GTD’s 2 min rule.

Put all energy into starting. It is all about milestones. Optimize for start line, not finish line.

Stage 4: Liking

The only reason we repeat behaviors is because you enjoy them.

Good habits have a problem: cost at the moment but reward is delayed. Bad habits : reward at the moment but consequence is delayed.

Figure how to bring reward into present moment: Seinfeld strategy of building the chain of actions.

The best way to change the long-term behavior is to act on the short-term feedback. You need a way to enjoy the moment. Don’t break the chain. Never miss twice.

Why habits are so important?  The ship of Theseus. Change happens habit by habit: Evolution; Not Revolution.

It is all about identity: the actions you take provide evidence to who you are.

Over a broad span of time actions you do once or twice fade away. Actions you do for the bulk amount of time day after day week after week accumulate the bulk of the evidence of what you believe of yourself. Every action you take is a vote for the type of the person you wish to become.

You don’t need to be perfect all the time. You just need to have the body of good work.

True Change is not behavior or results or process change, but it is Identity Change.

The goal is not to read a book; but to become a reader.

The goal is not to write a book; but to become a writer.

The goal is not to run a marathon; but to become a runner.

The way to become someone is by doing something. Your identity emerges from the type of habits you have. It is about getting you to believe something.

 

The important thing we forget in the rush to achieve

I should remember the following gems in the article I found in the following tweet.

But if I could offer one piece of advice to incoming freshman, it would be to learn to take care of themselves—because they are about to be surrounded by people who often have the misconception that racking up achievements and accolades is more important than leading a happy, healthy, and fulfilling life.

the real lesson of grit is the importance of working hard at a sustainable pace, without any expectation of immediate payoff.

Should we encourage our children to work hard? Absolutely. But young people need to learn that grit is only effective when coupled with restorative activities like sufficient sleep, exercise, a well-balanced diet, meditation, walks in nature, and time off. Research shows that these basic yet essential self-care habits result in greater focus and productivity, not to mention increased creativity, better decision-making, and stronger emotional intelligence.

1000 days of Elevate

Today is my 1000 th day playing Elevate.

Elevate Session Highlights           Elevate Milestones

I broke the streak once in June 2016, not because I slacked but because I was stuck on the dated iPhone 4 running on dated iOS 7 on which the Elevate app was slow and crashed repeatedly. I was also traveling and didn’t have reliable internet. I couldn’t let all this break my 610 day streak at that point. So once I am on the reliable phone and internet, I completed a handful of games retrospectively to fix the streak. And of course, playing Elevate is a fun way to improve vocabulary and math skills little bit everyday.

Here are the earlier milestones.

Round The Bays 2016

Yesterday I ran at a running event called Round the Bays. According to their website, it is one of the world’s largest fun runs and New Zealand’s largest mass participation sporting event. It is a 8.4km walk / jog / run from the city along the waterfront to St Heliers Bay, one of the rich suburbs.

My employer paid the participation fee and gave a nice bright orange tee shirt. This is not the only reason I ran though. I wanted to experience how it is like running among thousands of people wearing a bib. And I wanted to see where I stand among some of my super fit coworkers.

I did not practice specifically for this event. I run a 5k every Sunday. So this is my weekly run, just in the different part of the city, with thousands of other runners.

I ran 8.47 km non-stop in 39:42, my best. I stood at 13 among 187 coworkers and 635 overall among 19,619 participants. I’m pleased with my time and ranking.

Now what? a half-marathon? marathon? Nothing. I am not getting carried away by this result. Keeping my weekly tiny 5-8k running routine is important to me than any grand goals.

The official result:

Chaitanya's Round The Bays 2016 Scorecard

Broken meditation streak

Last night I broke 234 day long meditation streak in Calm.com.

While it is unfortunate that I could not find even ten minutes to mediate yesterday, there is a bright side. I engrossed in something important and lost track of time. That’s mindfulness, isn’t it? 

By the time I realized, it was six minutes to twelve in the night. I could have meditated two minutes – my usual is ten minutes –  just to keep the streak alive, but I saw no point.

Although I need to start from square one, I think progress matters more than streak and perfection. So I am not feeling too bad.

Sunrise calendar app

Last week I discovered Sunrise calendar app. I loved it at first sight.

Sunrise joins Wunderlist in my GTD tool set.

I connected my work, personal and Facebook calendars and Wunderlist to Sunrise.

Everyday, Wunderlist tells me what to do and Sunrise tells me when to do. This is a great thing. Because a wise man once said, and I can attest from my experience, the things that get scheduled are the things that get done.