Runners in the Technology Field

I used to run with the Nationwide Running Club. Anyone who worked at Nationwide was welcome to join, but our core group of weekend warriors were primarily technical: a Database Administrator, an IT Officer, a Systems Architect, an Engineer, a GIS Specialist, and a few Actuaries. We were rounded out with a Resource Librarian and an Admin as well, but they were not there as consistently as some of the rest of the gang.

Apart from my immediate friends, I’ve come across many other folks on twitter or blogs who run and work in the IT field. I think there are several reasons for these parallel paths.

running with laptopInitially I saw running as a potential outlet: the IT field may be challenging and stressful, and running may be a way to relieve some of that stress. Yet it’s got to be more than that: there are many stressful jobs, and equally many stress-relievers. I believe that aspects of these activities attract a certain type of person.

Many people say to me “how can you run? It’s so boring…”. Some people may need variation or input to keep them engaged. Others of us may be more introverted, and comfortable without that input. Yes, I’m referring to both the notion of ‘loneliness of the long-distance runner’ and the stereotype of the socially-inept computer geek, but stereotypes all start somewhere..

Recently at work we were talking about an upcoming project, and I felt the computer scientist in me tense up at the idea of “constant reprioritization” or what I perceived as a lack of clear dependencies regarding deliverables. Because I’m a control freak? Well, maybe. But the linear thinker in me looks at projects as comprising of a series of steps, akin to a training plan. You don’t just wake up one morning and decide to run a marathon (unless you’re the hero of Run Fatboy Run). It takes planning and preparation.

A computer scientist may spend an inordinate amount of time in crafting elegant code, deriving an optimized algorithm. It is this same discipline that helps many of us step out the door day after day. It is about incremental modifications or adjustments for an envisioned future. We must have vision, and dedication, and be willing to make a commitment. Emil Zapotek once said “We are different, in essence, from other men. If you want to win something, run 100 meters. If you want to experience something, run a marathon.” The marathon is no place for someone seeking immediate gratification.

Are you a runner? Do you work in the IT field?

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