Unitasking – The Simple Beauty of the Solo Long Run

AJW talks about the joy of uni-tasking while running in a multi-tasking crazed world.

By on September 28, 2012 | Comments

AJWs TaproomThere are many challenges facing us as people in the new modern era. And, these challenges impact everything we do; our jobs, our families, our passions, our values, and our faith. Additionally, we are increasingly challenged by things we can’t control, don’t understand, and, in the end, don’t really care about. These are the things we may want to see sustained and may be things worth pursuing but they are also, ultimately, distractions. And that is the biggest problem I see with the world today; complete and total distraction.

There was a time when doing one thing at a time was enough. Doing one thing well was what society expected of us and it was the way in which a meaningful life was lived. It gave us purpose and made us human. But, over the past decade or so, we have lost touch with this idea and we’ve, consequently, been overwhelmed by multi-tasking. To be perfectly frank, these days it is not good enough to do one thing well, or even two or three, we are in midst of the age of doing everything, all the time, everywhere at any time. Sometimes, I think that if you don’t have a sense of urgency you have no sense at all. This is precisely the reason that, to me, running is as important now as it’s ever been.

You see, I am as guilty as the next guy about being caught up in the multi-tasking fury. My days are filled with intermittent, seemingly random jumps from one activity to another with no sense of connection or meaning linking things together. I go from meeting to meeting, contact to contact, task to task in ways that are never reflective and rarely even interconnected. It’s as if my life is made up of a series of random tasks determined by a force far beyond my ability to comprehend. And, at the end of the day, I am often left asking the question, what did I do today?

Well, most days, the answer to that question is oblique at best and downright pathetic at worst, but if I have succeeded in getting in a run that day, the mundane, superficial, sometimes-hard-to-define stuff is a little easier to justify and that is why the long solo run is a place of such solace. When I am running, alone, on the trail, with only the sound of my breathing and my foot plants in my head I have no choice but to unitask. Nobody can call me, interrupt me, or usurp my moment. Is this selfish? Perhaps. Is this my way of detaching myself from the Real World? Certainly. Is this some sort of an “escape” for someone who can’t handle the demands of 21st Century society? I’ll let others be the judge of that.

What I do know is that my run allows me to find some sense of balance. It allows me to address the good and the bad on my terms and in my time. It gives me the opportunity to slow down and breathe and it allows me to do one thing and one thing only. In an age when doing one thing at a time is generally frowned upon, I like to think it gives me joy. And, at the end of that run, that’s all I need.

Bottoms up!

AJW’s Beer of the Week
Hardywood Belgian DIPAThis week’s Beer of the Week comes from a small, new brewery in Richmond, VA called Hardywood Park. Their Belgian-inspired Double IPA is actually the result of a mistake in their brewing process and stands as a good lesson to us all that sometimes doing the wrong thing is the best thing. :-)

Call for Comments (from Bryon)

  • So, what DID you do today?
  • Did you unitask? If so, when and how’d it go?
Andy Jones-Wilkins

Andy Jones-Wilkins is an educator by day and has been the author of AJW’s Taproom at iRunFar for over 11 years. A veteran of over 190 ultramarathons, including 38 100-mile races, Andy has run some of the most well-known ultras in the United States. Of particular note are his 10 finishes at the Western States 100, which included 7 times finishing in the top 10. Andy lives with his wife, Shelly, and Josey, the dog, and is the proud parent of three sons, Carson, Logan, and Tully.