the running lesson

In inspiration, motivation, productivity by Jay Clouse

I’ve never been much of a distance runner. In high school, I ran the 100m, 200m, and 400m (begrudgingly). I’ve always hidden behind the excuse of, “When you run distance, it just becomes a time commitment.”

In December, I had a personal goal of running 60 miles over the course of the month — an average of two miles a day. I could do that!

But, after several lazy days, I found myself with three days to run 15 miles. Woof.

Treadmills are boring. Not only do you commit to running for 30-60 minutes for running several miles, but you have to run in place. With nothing to look at but the same small area around you, including the progress meters on the treadmill itself.

Time crawls by…

But earlier in the month, I found a way to break through my plateau of running two miles continuously: covering the dashboard.

I would throw a hoodie over the top of the treadmill so that I couldn’t see how long or how far I had run. All I could focus on was the street out the window in front of me and whatever I was playing through my headphones at the time.

And without changing anything else, I was suddenly running three miles without stopping. Then four. Then up to six.

My mindset went from, “I’m going to run at least two miles today” to “I’m going to run until I can’t run at this speed anymore.”

Before I covered the dash, I tended to burn out right around two miles — like clockwork. I watched the clock and distance, and as two miles approached, I ran out of gas.

Time felt slower, and I had accidentally conditioned myself to get tired from seeing a certain number on that dashboard!

But when I covered it, and I was just running to my actual physical ability.

I had goals, but I kept increasing them. And as I was running ‘blind,’ I would tell myself that I hadn’t hit the goal yet and just keep running until I physically couldn’t anymore. Then I’d remove the cover, walk for a bit, re-cover the dash, and do it some more.

When you impose and hide behind small goals, you condition yourself to underperform what you are actually capable of.


Dig this? Enter your email address to receive Work In Progress, my newsletter dedicated to both personal and professional improvement. If you are an entrepreneur, freelancer, or creative, this is for you.