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Sprint to the Finish Line

Around ten years ago, a friend of mine bet me that he could run a mile faster than I could. We each had a month or two to train, and then we met at the high school track near my old house. He ran first, and did the mile in seven and a half minutes. That was actually faster than I'd run a mile before.

What would my strategy be? Well, the oval track was a fourth of a mile long. I figured that I'd run my usual pace for the first three laps, and then for that last lap, I would just murder myself on the pavement. May as will give it everything I've got, since there's nothing after the finish line.

When I hit he finish line, I had to grab the bleachers to avoid falling down. My legs were shaking, my head was pounding, and I was gasping for breath. I had won, running a 6:59, my fastest mile ever.

A few nights ago it was eleven pm, and my non-negotiable computer-off time of midnight was drawing close. I'd had an amazingly productive day, and the thought crossed my mind that I'd already gotten enough done during the day, and could afford to take a break for the last hour.

Spiraling Into Control

On nickwinter.net

I wrote this as a guest post on the Beeminder blog — comments can live there.

It’s dark. Warm. Safe. You’re in bed, about to fall asleep. Pre-dream hallucinations of commanding a mighty bear army are playing across your sated mind. Zz — wait — what about that CrossFit Beeminder?!

You forgot. You got behind. You skipped CrossFit yesterday, but Beeminder said that was okay as long as you did it today instead. You meant to, but life happened. At this point, you think, “I am sumptuously swaddled in my favorite luxury bedding material, it’s late, and there is no way I’m going out in the street to do the workout-of-the-day in the dark, by myself, in my pajamas. And Beeminder will just charge me $5 this time. Okay, deal. Zzz.”

But I think there’s a better way to use Beeminder. When this happened to me, I didn’t even have to think about what to do; I just found myself out there grunting my medicine ball against a telephone pole and jumprope-sprinting into gloomy rosebushes. [1] It wasn’t even worth considering losing my wager over the tiny matter of some physical discomfort. What wager? Not money — just the certainty that I will always do what I promise myself I will do.

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