how to keep going when you want to stop

In runner-speak, hitting the wall is when you’re two-thirds into a race and your legs all of a sudden shudder. Your vision blurs, your arms start to tingle, and out of nowhere you can’t hold pace and you collapse. In German, the experience is known as “der Mann mit dem Hammer”—which translates, literally, to “the man with the hammer”—and is likened to a man with a hammer coming after the athlete…and eventually catching up.

Runners hit the wall when glycogen stores in the liver and muscles are depleted. The experience can be prevented by eating carbohydrate-rich foods or reducing exercise intensity in order to nurture energy stores.

But, in the ever-accelerating world of business, reducing intensity as you’re approaching the wall is a big ask. If Covid-19 is the man with the proverbial hammer, carb-loading probably won’t help all that much. However, caring for your energy stores is both possible and vital. Indeed, doing so can not only help you avoid the wall altogether, but also assist in turning it into a vault that launches you ahead of the competition.

The Covid-19 pandemic has us all mired in a long race that is testing everyone’s reserves. Back in March, few imagined the finish line would be so far off. With the school year now upon us and no end in sight, the wall is looming and now is the time to take proactive steps to prevent yourself from plowing headlong into it.

Four Steps to Vaulting Over the Wall

1. Cheer Others On

We’re all in this together. Your team needs your support as much as you need theirs. By cheering others on you not only motivate those around you to keep going, you gain the rush that comes along with being a force of positivity. Take time this week to write a card of appreciation to your teammates. I promise that in doing so you’ll not only buoy their spirits but lift yours, too.

2. Practice Relaxation

Stress is cumulative and can drive you into destructive cycles of poor sleep, bad eating, and scattered focus. All of these in turn drive more stress. Break this pattern by taking deliberate time each day to decompress. This might mean a 15-minute stretch in the afternoon, or an hour with a good book in the evening. Whatever your choice, ensure that you treat this task as no less essential than any other in your day.

3. Stay Present

Good runners manage exhaustion in stride. They trust in their pacing and refuse to worry about upcoming hills until the moment they start climbing. Do the same. Focus on crushing today and trust that, in so doing, tomorrow will be manageable.

4. Celebrate Your Success

You know how to get through the coming months because you’ve succeeded in getting through to the present. Take note of all you’ve done so far to keep going and see this as proof that you have the skills to manage. Not only will doing so inspire confidence, it will remind you of what works so that you can pour your energy into productive behaviors that will have you leap ahead while others crash.

If you’ve ever watched a marathon, you know it’s rarely those who break early from the pack who win. There’s something about lagging reserves that drives the competitive type to lay it all out. Resist this temptation and take time now to start the regenerative work of replenishing your well-being. Unlike running, the working world isn’t a race to the bottom. Winning the day means knowing you’re set up to win tomorrow, too. Do this by instituting sustainable, healthy practices, and soon enough you’ll find that you’re running into energy instead of out of it.

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