I’m trying not to be frustrated about the fact that I can’t sleep right now.  Two hours ago I got in bed, tired, and after reading for over an hour, I turned off the light and stared at the back of my eyelids while my mind wandered.

Maybe its because I had a hard workout this morning, and ended up logging 16 miles for the day.  Maybe its the Mexican takeout dinner we got that I ate too much of.  Maybe its that PMS has evolved from a 3-days-a-month thing, to 14-days-and-counting thing, and I’m getting tired of being bloated and feeling like a cow.  It could be the interview I have in the morning before practice (anything early on my schedule can make it hard for me to sleep).  But whatever the cause, the solution was to get out of bed and write it out.

At some point while laying there, a thought went through my mind that I felt was worth remembering.  For much of my career, each year I would think about ways I could become more disciplined and dedicated, believing that increased sacrifice was the best pathway to faster times.

This technique worked for several years as I evolved from a multi-sport, spazmatic 13 year old to a true runner.  But there came a point when I had already nailed down the most important parts of the athletic lifestyle, and to be more disciplined required getting into the nitty gritty details of everyday life.  I mean, you reach a certain point, and your going to have to create a monastery environment in your home to get any more disciplined.  And to what end?  Sooner or later, you lose the plot and your life is about how disciplined you can be rather than how fast you can run.  Turns out they aren’t the same thing.  I had the worst results when I was overly disciplined.

When I realized the silliness of extreme discipline, (through trial and error,) it was a huge relief.  It was cemented for me while competing in Europe on the circuit in 2005.  I discovered the large degree to which the world’s best athletes differ on the details.  Take three athletes within five seconds of one another for 5k and one religiously sleeps 12 hours a day in an artificial altitude tent, one goes up to the mountains for altitude for 4 weeks a year, and one never steps foot above sea-level.  Similar incongruities could be found in nutrition, the state of our training logs, the specifics of weight lifting, etc.

I came home realizing that the specifics don’t really matter.  That at a certain point, the micro-details take up valuable space in your brain that you should be using for the basics.

The bummer about that career realization is that sometimes I swing too far the other way and start considering some of the “basics” “details.”  At times like tonight, when I feel gross and heavy and prepped for an unsatisfactory nights sleep, I realize that I’d be more at peace on a daily basis if I let a little more structure into my life.  So if the devil’s in the details, I guess I need to flirt with the devil just a little bit more.  I’ve given him a touch too much space lately.

Is it too cheesy to call this, quite literally, a “wake up call?”