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Be The Last To Leave

I’m a night runner. We’ll, ok, now I’m getting ahead of myself. I wouldn’t call myself a runner in any loose sense of the word. I’m more of a scrambling mess. But I do go for runs. To be more specific, Zombie Runs.

And most of the time I run from these Zombies at night. I can’t handle running in the heat of the day, and the Zombies feel more real at night! But sometimes I leave the Zombies at home and like to play a different game.

But first, let’s put a few things in perspective.

Our health is important to us. It is our life blood. Practicing healthy lifestyle habits can literally add years to our lives. It’s rather simple: If you look after your body, your body will look after you with more time.

Our careers are also important to us. Our working lives exist for nearly our entire lives, with a small break at the start, and if we play our cards right, a respite at the end. If you work hard, your work will be rewarded with money. Which in turn, theoretically, will make your life easier with time.

We are encouraged and applauded when we work hard. And it’s a good thing. We push ourselves, contribute to society, and make the world a better place. The harder and smarter we work, theoretically, the more we will get paid. It’s a great incentive. It’s impact can be felt immediately, and as such is easily correlated.

I set a goal at the start of the year to run 1000km. Looking at the stats on my Zombies, Run! app, I had only run 300 or so kilometers in the couple years I’ve had the app. This year was going to push me. And it already has. Will I get to the 1000km? Who knows! But I’m giving it my best.

Sometimes I don’t feel like navigating roads and footpaths of my suburb, and I just run laps of the oval. I start after work, just as the sun is getting ready to set. The park is usually full of families, couples and dogs. Sometimes the humans are walking the dogs, sometimes the dogs are walking the humans. But there is a constant stream of people arriving. This is when I play my game.

I start running. And I don’t stop. My aim is to be the last to leave the park. I’m not a fast runner by any means. In fact, an observer might feel they could walk faster. But I just keep at my steady, sustainable pace. (Over time it is my hope that this speed will slowly increase.) While I’m running, I take a note of who is at the park. I watch some of the first people leave. I watch the new people arrive. I watch the sun set. I keep running.

As the sun sets and the darkness sets in, less people arrive and more people leave. Eventually, there remains myself and one other person or group. The duel. The final battle. I’m exhausted, but try not to show. It’s all about the mind games.


“The person ahead of you is just as tired.
The one who gives up last will come first.” – Neila Rey


And this is the great thing about playing games where you don’t tell the other players about the rules: eventually they leave. And I win.

Running laps is boring. Turning it into a game is fun for me and my stubbornness of wanting to win makes me run longer than I ever would have had I not played.

So consider this: What if you treated your fitness like your work. What if instead of being the last to leave the office, you were the last to leave the park. Or the gym. Or the pool. Or whatever. Sometimes you won’t win. Sometimes you will.

In this job, you’ll get a Raise just for trying. And it’s value will be priceless.