If you know me then you might already know that I’m a bit advocate for habits over attempting major life overhauls. 2020 was a bit of a strange year, and I spent a lot of the lockdowns resting rather than building the habits I want. But that rest time was much needed, and I now find myself wanting to spend my time being more active, whether than means coding, running, seeing friends or just doing something I enjoy.
As well as learning more about computer science, I’ve also been learning more about running from the excellent book Build Your Running Body, but not doing much actual running yet!
I have a bit of an on-again-off-again relationship with running, but when I am running regularly I’m known for being quite slow, something that I’m trying to accept but still sometimes find frustrating. I also have a tendency to expect a lot from myself, whether I’m learning something new or trying to exercise regularly. For example, this morning I answered the first homework question from the CS60A course I’m studying. It’s taken me 10 days to get to this point and I immediately started thinking that I need to do more, stick to a schedule, get through the course quickly.
But then I recalled a passage I read this morning, about running, that applies to pretty much everything we do:
Better undertrained than overtrained: Undertrained you’ll feel good, and you can always improve. Overtrained, you’ll feel like hell, and you’ll need weeks of rest to recover.
The author goes on to emphasise that it takes time to see results, you can’t become a long distance runner in 1 or 2 workouts, you have to show up time and time again. If you want to continue to do something long term, then your approach has to be sustainable. For activities that will happen long term, it’s better to feel like you could have always given a little bit more. You’re less likely to burnout, and more likely to come back the next day to do it again.
So while my instinct was that answering just one question wasn’t enough for today, and taking more than a week to complete a single week of lectures is too slow, I need to remember that I’ll be continuing to study for months and years, not hours and days.
Going slowly means I’ll go faster overall 🐢