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Out There: Time Out!

Let running being life's pause button.

Ever wish you could call a time-out on life?

When I was younger, the neighborhood kids used to get together for hours-long games of Tag. We’d run around the neighborhood, chasing each other up fire escapes and through alleyways in frenzied fashion to avoid being “it.” Though most anyone was fair game for chase, it was generally accepted that a person who made a “T” shape with the hands was off-limits.

“TIME-OUT!” someone would cry after skinning a kneecap or feeling the symptoms of an oncoming asthma attack. By making a simple hand signal, they could escape the chase for a minute and recoup. Everyone respected the time-out and left the kid alone. There was no preying on the weak.

I demand to know why we don’t allow this in adulthood.

Lately, I’ve come to the realization that I’ve taken on too much. I’m a FOMO-er to a fault, the type of person who enthusiastically says “yes” to every personal and professional opportunity that comes my way. Life is a delicious buffet, my friends, and I want to sample it all.

But this month, enthusiasm has turned to anxiety. There simply haven’t been enough hours in the day for family, work, and training. Instead of looking forward to savoring the full and varied plate I’ve built, I dread it.

During the busiest of times, something has to give, and that something is usually my run. It’s the conundrum every runner faces at some point: feeling guilty disappearing for an hour to frolic on the trails when there are deadlines to make, work to do, and people to answer to. I need to conquer my mountain of tasks! I need to get stuff done! I need to have all the answers! I need to make everyone happy! I need…I need…

I need a damn time-out, that’s what I need.

The trouble with “too much” is that it’s easy to lose perspective. We get so focused on getting stuff done that we forget to pay attention to the stuff that helps us get stuff done.

Despite my recent insistence that I don’t have time to run, I’ve discovered skipping an hour-long track session doesn’t actually create more minutes in the day. Instead, I just have 60 extra minutes to become even more stressed out about my to-do list. Some are motivated by stress, but I am not one of those people. I just turn into a blur of emotional eating and nonsensical babble.

But when I take that hour in my running shoes, I don’t feel so overwhelmed. My head clears, my attitude improves, and things start to make a little more sense. It’s a time-out that lets me escape the chase and recoup. Running is the stuff that helps me get stuff done.

When overwhelmed with demands, there are options: You can make a mediocre effort at everything in an attempt to get things done. You can try to do everything perfectly and become a basket case. Or you can put your hands in the air, make a T shape, and call a time-out until you’re ready to get back in the game.

As it turns out, that’s still an option, even in adulthood.

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About The Author:

Susan Lacke does 5Ks, Ironman Triathlons and everything in between to justify her love for cupcakes (yes, she eats that many). Susan lives and trains in Salt Lake City, Utah with three animals: A labrador, a cattle dog, and a freakishly tall triathlete husband. She claims to be of sound mind, though this has yet to be substantiated by a medical expert. Follow her on Twitter: @SusanLacke.