Mildly disappointed in error.

I need to remember that memory can fail you. (Shut up). For starters, I hadn’t run Pioneer parkrun since March and had somehow forgotten a few of the small inclines of the course. That bend near the finish line past the stairs was never uphill, surely?!

I put out the marking cones for Anna before parkrun with Milly scooting alongside, so I’d had a mile warm-up, and then started out on parkrun. I didn’t look at my watch and just ran on feel, and my god the feel was ARSE. It felt like a whole lot of effort, a whole lot worse than running had felt like for a while.

My PB at Pioneer is 25:26, dating from September 2014 when I was training for Six Inch, and I sort of ignore its existence because it’s going to take a fair bit of effort to get back to that. So I didn’t really know what finish time I expected today.

I can honestly say I’ve been quicker at parkrun these past few months after I decided to take the attitude of “I will run Tuesday darkrun, Thursday from work, Saturday parkrun and Sunday long run. And if I don’t want to run, I’m still going to run.” (That said, tomorrow I’m volunteering at Masters Athletics so might only get 5km in). I realised I needed to start to make ‘not running to the schedule’ the exception rather than the rule.

Anyway, I know I’ve recovered almost completely from last month’s ear infection and this month’s chest infection (my resting heart rate is slowly getting back to normal), and my overall speed is getting back to pre-illness levels, but the effort this morning felt harder than normal.

I wasn’t entirely impressed with my time when I got to the finish, and it wasn’t until we were in Dome after parkrun that I looked at Strava and it said ‘trending faster’ for the Pioneer parkrun course. I scrolled through my past results and realised that the last time I was in the 27 minute range on that course was July last year, and prior to that was March 2015. So in retrospect, it was actually bloody good work. Hard work, but good.

We’ve been running at flat parkruns because Jez has got a training program and needs to hit specific pace targets for his runs, and Tony, his coach, plugs in a parkrun with a warmup and a cool down, but the paces required are more feasible on a flat course. Pioneer was a last night whim and while I’ve been going to Kings Park on the odd Thursday, I haven’t been doing anything like what you could call hill intervals.

Now I’m going to do more hill interval sessions on a Thursday evening, and so when I run Pioneer again next time, I’ll have done enough hills at effort to know what a solid effort feels like, and I won’t be stupidly, mildly disappointed at the finish line for no good reason.

Inbox (momentarily) zero

There’s this concept of Inbox Zero, where you keep your email inbox actively empty. (Google it).

I fail at Inbox Zero, but I regularly, actively try and keep it small enough to be manageable. Most of what is in my inbox is part of my to-do list. For advertising emails and mailing lists and media monitoring alerts I have automatic filing rules, and sorting rules, and most of the time I can just run my eye over the subject lines of the emails in my 15+ different folders, and hit delete on the entire lot in one fell swoop. However sometimes everything gets overwhelming, and it doesn’t matter how much I flag certain emails in my inbox as something I need to do, and delete emails that I’ve dealt with, it marches up to 1,000+ emails. Again.

I find this oddly stressful – my brain gets overly worried that I’ve missed something vital, despite the unlikeliness of that actually having happened. If I had missed something, it’s highly likely that the requester would have called me, emailed me again or come up to my desk and asked. Ah, irrational guilt. It’s so helpful.

But worry and stress is never logical, so when I reach that point, I do this, and I recommend you do it to:

  • Sort your Outlook inbox by received date.
  • Collapse the sorting so that the only expanded timeframe that is open is the Older category.
  • Move everything in the Older category to a new folder. Any email that you still have to ‘immediately’ action is younger than this is, because if it was truly necessary then someone would have bugged you about it again by now.

Once you have done this, then:

  • Sort the remaining emails in your inbox by sender, by size, by date received, whichever. You’ve instantly cut out a significant number of emails you need to deal with immediately. Revel in this fact.
  • If you sort by name then you can batch delete all those Australian Financial Review daily emails. All those Book Depository emails. All those emails from Reception confirming your meeting room booking that you had not only already put in your calendar, but you’d already had the meeting.
  • If you sort by size you can now delete or file in your workplace’s electronic document management system that whopping 30MB email with those images you don’t need any more because that brochure has been printed. You can deal with that 17MB scan in PDF format for the document you finished last month and had already sent to your client.

It’s all so much less overwhelming. And when your inbox is down to the things you actually need to do, you feel like you can keep it roughly in shape for a few months.

Now, what about those emails you threw in a folder? The reason why you put them in a folder is that now your problem won’t get bigger. It can’t get bigger. You can repeat what you did with your inbox, and delete or file the enormous emails, the advertising emails, the news provider emails, the “hey, it’s Friday night drinks” emails.

You don’t have to deal with all those emails immediately. Pick off 50 at a time. Say “I’ve got 20 minutes before that client comes for her meeting, I’m prepared for the meeting, so I’m going to spend 15 minutes clearing off some of those older emails.”

Because I also have a physical to-do list I have actually written down “650, 600, 550, 500…” and crossed off the numbers as I’ve taken the folder down to that number. It gives you a feeling of satisfaction; everyone loves crossing things off a to-do list.

Incremental decrease in size is still a decrease in size. Don’t let it overwhelm you.