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What’s Your One Thing?

Have you ever had an incredibly busy day, but looked back when it was over and wondered if you actually got anything done?  Worse yet, have you experienced days (or even weeks, months, and years) where you were hustling from the moment you rolled out of bed in the morning until your head hit the pillow at the end of the day, and you feel completely unfulfilled?  Somewhere along the way in our society, being “Busy” became synonymous with being successful.  To-do lists, deadlines, high stress, and a lack of time for self are often the price that is paid by people striving to be successful.  I’ve been there, and on occasion, I fight my tendency to return to it. 
     I am wired to want to perform well in everything that I do.  As any good type-A personality will tell you, “Any job worth doing, is worth doing well”, right?  As I have gotten a little life under my belt, I have come to realize that the question I need to ask myself when I am faced with deciding where to put my energy is, “Is everything equally important?”, or “Does everything matter equally?”  Highly motivated people often accept high workloads.  The result is that we often take on too much to remain focused on what will actually result in the success we are seeking.  Gary Keller writes in his book, The One Thing- The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary ResultsUnaware that big success comes when we do a few things well, we get lost trying to do too much, and in the end, we accomplish too little”.  Gary advocates for asking what he calls a focusing question: “What is the one thing that I can do (in an aspect of my life) that by doing it, will make everything else easier or unnecessary?”.  
     That simple question becomes powerful when we fill in the blank:   What is the one thing that I can do today in my spiritual life that will improve my relationship with God, that by doing it, will make everything else easier or unnecessary?  How about my family life; my finances; my business; my physical fitness? …you get the picture.  Focus makes us powerful.  Concentrating on the one thing to help us fulfill our purpose (the thing you want your life to be about) makes us effective.  By isolating the important, and sidelining the non-essentials, we see the difference between being busy and being productive.
     While there are big life-implications in this concept, it is also highly applicable in race training.  As a physical therapist who has worked with endurance athletes for over two decades, & a runner myself, I have seen my share of training errors.  Most runners fall into the “highly motivated” category.  As such, they have a tendency to push through issues in attempt to meet their goals.  Inadvertently, this can result in exhaustion or injury that eventually derails the entire plan.  To be a successful runner, you have to log miles.  Unfortunately, more running isn’t always the answer, just like being busy doesn’t equal being productive.  Sometimes we need rest.  Sometimes we need help.  The key is to remain focused on the purpose of your training rather than on the completion of the training schedule. 
     As race season quickly approaches, and training schedules call for the miles to stack up, keep your focusing question in mind:  What is the one thing that I can do today with my training that will help me to meet my goals and make everything else easier or unnecessary?  Should you find yourself needing a little extra rest, embrace it.  Pamper yourself, do some cross-training, or spend some extra time with your loved-ones.  Your body and mind will appreciate it.  Focus on quality miles and enjoy the journey. Happiness is in the journey, not the destination. 

~Brian Cardin

Brian is an owner of Appalachian Running Company and Cardin & Miller Physical Therapy.  He can be reached directly at