Focus and prioritize: what I’ve learned from two weeks of jogging

A few weeks ago, I started taking walks in the morning. They were immensely helpful in clearing my head, generating new ideas and making me feel better about tackling what the day had to offer. Then a few days later, I decided to jog instead of walk for the back half of the circuit I established. Despite twelve years of playing soccer, I am not a fan of running or jogging. However, I felt even better. So the next time, I jogged the circuit, or as much as I could.

Next time, I installed a free pedometer app on my phone and measured the progress. The next few sessions, I pushed, each time going just a bit further. Over the span of a few weeks, I’ve improved from walking a track in 30 minutes to jogging the same track in 15 minutes, to extending the track by .2 miles and still coming in at the 15 minute mark. Both ground covered and speed have improved in the two weeks. The scale agrees, having dropping about two pounds from my previous normal. All in all, it’s been a good experience for me despite my distaste for jogging. I’m not sure I’ll ever fall in love with the activity but I recognize that effort is necessary to maintain health.

So, I’m tracking, optimizing and iterating. The key stat I’m looking at is distance covered per session. That’s my unifying metric which I prioritize above all else. While I could obsess over a battery of metrics, and the app makes it easy to do so with a cheap upgrade, it would only confuse the overall picture. There’s only one metric, if I move that, the whole set of underlying KPI’s changes. They all get better. Eventually, once I’ve made enough progress on the macro metric, I may delve into the details and further optimize.

Ironically, I did not perform well in calculus in college. However, much of what I do, how I operate, is calculus centric. Limits, derivatives, multivariate optimization…it’s all calculus. There’s a curve and a trend, where I’m trying to find the juxtaposition of a basket of metrics in order to improve the efficacy of the system at large. Calculus.

The easy thing to do for any of us is to choose not to jog. After all, I’m not a fan. It’s not fun. One thing I’ve learned is that sometimes, what’s right isn’t what’s fun. That doesn’t mean I can’t make fun of what’s right.