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4 Ways Extreme Races Change Your View

4 Ways Extreme Races Change Your View

In America, an exploding trend in recent years has been the emergence of extreme races. Running the gamut from actual ultra endurance races, such as The Barkley Marathons (a race which only 10 people have ever finished in its near 40-year existence) to fun and gimmicky team-based races, such as RAGNAR (in which a team of 12 runs from one city to another — for instance, 196 miles from Madison to Chicago), a plethora of races have emerged for runners of all types.

Each of these races has something unique to offer, and each can change your view — should you be willing to participate. Here at Lifehack, we have compiled a list of the ways these races change the participants. Trust us, it’s usually for the better.

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You transform your life in order to participate in some of them.

Last October, I traveled from Chicago to Louisville to support a close friend as he competed in the Iron Man Triathlon. For me, it was an amazing experience of reconnecting with a friend who I had lost touch with. For him, it was the culmination of years of hard work — all of which was spurred by the admission of his girlfriend of three years that she had been cheating on him. This was part of his journey of recovering from that devastating admission.

During the race, he was in constant motion for 13 hours straight. That he ran the marathon section of the race faster than most people complete the Chicago Marathon itself wasn’t the point. The point was trying to get better in whatever way possible.

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You learn each of your team members’ styles and journeys.

Races like RAGNAR, in which each member of a team of 12 takes three legs of a 200-mile journey, or Tough Mudder, a 10-mile, dirty obstacle course slog, cannot be completed alone. Both require relying on team members, regardless of their style. So, if you’re a sprinter who takes down miles at a sub-seven-minute pace and your teammate is someone who just plods along at a pace approaching double that, you have to learn that whatever way the job gets done and the distance gets conquered is absolutely fine, as long as it gets done.

You spend a ton of time alone with your thoughts.

Regardless of your need to rely on team members in some of these races, the vast majority of time spent participating in them is spent entirely alone, with your body on autopilot and your mind wandering.

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While running, you might think of new ways to approach an old problem, you might tell yourself stories, you might have an epiphany about making a major life change. The common thread is that, regardless of what crosses your mind while running these extreme races, those thoughts purely come from you and nothing else, in a way that is not explainable to non-runners.

You see and hear some amazing stories of accomplishment.

Have you ever seen someone in a wheelchair fly through the finish line at the end of a 200-mile race, the crowd gathered around the finish line, flipping the switch from supportive mob to wild frenzy as they see the finisher approaching?

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Have you ever been in the middle of nowhere, jogging on some backcountry road, only to slow down and chat with a middle-aged woman, your competitor in every sense, to find out that she is part of a team of middle-aged women who decided at age 50 to participate in as many of these extreme events as possible?

Have you ever seen a service member, fully dressed in the fatigues of the Army or Marines or Air Force or whatever, come across the finish line of a marathon while carrying a devastatingly heavy military rucksack, and wondered if he’s running for his own sense of accomplishment or if he’s running for, with, or from the ghosts of his friends who didn’t make it home?

These stories, these visuals, happen every day in these crazy races, and if you haven’t seen any of them yet, you are missing out. They will motivate you, inspire you, change you in ways that you would never expect.

Featured photo credit: Rev Dills/Flickr via flickr.com

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Last Updated on September 28, 2020

The Pros and Cons of Working from Home

The Pros and Cons of Working from Home

At the start of the year, if you had asked anyone if they could do their work from home, many would have said no. They would have cited the need for team meetings, a place to be able to sit down and get on with their work, the camaraderie of the office, and being able to meet customers and clients face to face.

Almost ten months later, most of us have learned that we can do our work from home and in many ways, we have discovered working from home is a lot better than doing our work in a busy, bustling office environment where we are inundated with distractions and noise.

One of the things the 2020 pandemic has reminded us is we humans are incredibly adaptable. It is one of the strengths of our kind. Yet we have been unknowingly practicing this for years. When we move house we go through enormous upheaval.

When we change jobs, we not only change our work environment but we also change the surrounding people. Humans are adaptable and this adaptability gives us strength.

So, what are the pros and cons of working from home? Below I will share some things I have discovered since I made the change to being predominantly a person who works from home.

Pro #1: A More Relaxed Start to the Day

This one I love. When I had to be at a place of work in the past, I would always set my alarm to give me just enough time to make coffee, take a shower, and change. Mornings always felt like a rush.

Now, I can wake up a little later, make coffee and instead of rushing to get out of the door at a specific time, I can spend ten minutes writing in my journal, reviewing my plan for the day, and start the day in a more relaxed frame of mind.

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When you start the day in a relaxed state, you begin more positively. You find you have more clarity and more focus and you are not wasting energy worrying about whether you will be late.

Pro #2: More Quiet, Focused Time = Increased Productivity

One of the biggest difficulties of working in an office is the noise and distractions. If a colleague or boss can see you sat at your desk, you are more approachable. It is easier for them to ask you questions or engage you in meaningless conversations.

Working from home allows you to shut the door and get on with an hour or two of quiet focused work. If you close down your Slack and Email, you avoid the risk of being disturbed and it is amazing how much work you can get done.

An experiment conducted in 2012 found that working from home increased a person’s productivity by 13%, and more recent studies also find significant increases in productivity.[1]

When our productivity increases, the amount of time we need to perform our work decreases, and this means we can spend more time on activities that can bring us closer to our family and friends as well as improve our mental health.

Pro #3: More Control Over Your Day

Without bosses and colleagues watching over us all day, we have a lot more control over what we do. While some work will inevitably be more urgent than others, we still get a lot more choice about what we work on.

We also get more control over where we work. I remember when working in an office, we were given a fixed workstation. Some of these workstations were pleasant with a lot of natural sunlight, but other areas were less pleasant. It was often the luck of the draw whether we find ourselves in a good place to work or not.

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By working from home we can choose what work to work on and whether we want to face a window or not. We can get up and move to another place, and we can move from room to room. And if you have a garden, on nice days you could spend a few hours working outside.

Pro #4: You Get to Choose Your Office Environment

While many companies will provide you with a laptop or other equipment to do your work, others will give you an allowance to purchase your equipment. But with furniture such as your chair and desk, you have a lot of freedom.

I have seen a lot of amazing home working spaces with wonderful sets up—better chairs, laptop stands that make working from a laptop much more ergonomic and therefore, better for your neck.

You can also choose your wall art and the little nick-nacks on your desk or table. With all this freedom, you can create a very personal and excellent working environment that is a pleasure to work in. When you are happy doing your work, you will inevitably do better work.

Con #1: We Move a Lot Less

When we commute to a place of work, there is movement involved. Many people commute using public transport, which means walking to the bus stop or train station. Then, there is the movement at lunchtime when we go out to buy our lunch. Working in a place of work requires us to move more.

Unfortunately, working from home naturally causes us to move less and this means we are not burning as many calories as we need to.

Moving is essential to our health and if you are working from home you need to become much more aware of your movement. To ensure you are moving enough, make sure you take your lunch breaks. Get up from your desk and move. Go outside, if you can, and take a walk. And, of course, refrain from regular trips to the refrigerator.

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Con #2: Less Human Interaction

One of the nicest things about bringing a group of people together to work is the camaraderie and relationships that are built over time. Working from home takes us away from that human interaction and for many, this can cause a feeling of loss.

Humans are a social species—we need to be with other people. Without that connection, we start to feel lonely and that can lead to mental health issues.

Zoom and Microsoft Teams meeting cannot replace that interaction. Often, the interactions we get at our workplaces are spontaneous. But with video calls, there is nothing spontaneous—most of these calls are prearranged and that’s not spontaneous.

This lack of spontaneous interaction can also reduce a team’s ability to develop creative solutions—there’s just something about a group of incredibly creative people coming together in a room to thrash out ideas together that lends itself to creativity.

While video calls can be useful, they don’t match the connection between a group of people working on a solution together.

Con #3: The Cost of Buying Home Office Equipment

Not all companies are going to provide you with a nice allowance to buy expensive home office equipment. 100% remote companies such as Doist (the creators of Todoist and Twist) provide a $2,000 allowance to all their staff every two years to buy office equipment. Others are not so generous.

This can prove to be expensive for many people to create their ideal work-from-home workspace. Many people must make do with what they already have, and that could mean unsuitable chairs that damage backs and necks.

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For a future that will likely involve more flexible working arrangements, companies will need to support their staff in ways that will add additional costs to an already reduced bottom line.

Con #4: Unique Distractions

Not all people have the benefit of being able to afford childcare for young children, and this means they need to balance working and taking care of their kids.

For many parents, being able to go to a workplace gives them time away from the noise and demands of a young family, so they could get on with their work. Working from home removes this and can make doing video calls almost impossible.

To overcome this, where possible, you need to set some boundaries. I know this is not always possible, but it is something you need to try. You should do whatever you can to make sure you have some boundaries between your work life and home life.

Final Thoughts

Working from home can be hugely beneficial for many people, but it can also bring serious challenges to others.

We are moving towards a new way of working. Therefore, companies need to look at both the pros and cons of working from home and be prepared to support their staff in making this transition. It will not be impossible, but a lot of thought will need to go into it.

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Featured photo credit: Standsome Worklifestyle via unsplash.com

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