The necessary evil

P1010786Every now and then, I read some story or watch a youtube video on some runner who lives out of the back of their van and drives around from trail to trail, mountain to mountain, seemingly doing far more running than anything else in their lives. Makes me insanely jealous to say the least!

Every working morning for the past couple of years, I’ve dragged myself out of bed to face the pressures and stresses of the working world. I’ve got a decent job. The pay is ok, and while there are peaks in the workload which drive us to work crazy hours, there are also lulls which help balance things out. And I’ve always felt that, in my chosen profession of accounting, what I do as an external auditor is just about as exciting as accounting is going to get. My firm even used to be a nice place to work, though that’s gone somewhat downhill in recent years, and right or not, it’s become all about the bottom line at the expense of the employees. Same story as anywhere else I suppose!

Given this, it isn’t unusual for me to entertain the thought of just packing it in, selling everything I have and just living a frugal nomadic life, taking odd jobs where necessary. Or going to work for a running or fitness related company. Or starting my own adventure tourism business. Stuff like that. Jobs or careers that will allow me to do what I love, or at least something related to what I love, for a living.

Reality is, however, that I have 3 mouths to feed, and God willing that number is only going to go up! We have a bit of a traditional family setup. I’m responsible for the main lifeline. J works casually between 0-2 days a week, but most of her pay goes into the fees for daycare that enable her to work in the first place. Why bother you ask – well, as much as we love E, we’ve come to realise that even mums need a break from their darling bubs every now and then.

Hence my dilema. Most of the jobs I would love to do, run the rather high risk of not being able to pay the bills and put food on the table. Not for a family of 3 or more that needs to make an annual flight back to Singapore to see the rest of the folks anyway. And so, while on some days the very thought of going to work makes me nauseous, I plough on anwyay, because the fact is that the job that I have a love-hate relationship with (more hate than love at the moment!) is also what is enabling me to enjoy the rest of my life. The job pays the bills, feeds the family, and still has some spare cash left over for stuff like holidays, race fees, running shoes and all of J&E’s shopping. And so, for 40-60 hours a week, I drag my feet to work, so that I can enjoy the remaining 50 or so hours (not counting sleep time!) running and spending time with family. Work is my biggest necessary evil.

All that said, I have found a way to make a work day something to look forward to. I now have my weekday training sessions before work rather than after. That way, I jump out of bed excited for what is to come. And because I’m leaving for work at 6 in the morning rather than at 8, traffic is better, or if I take the train, I’m guaranteed a seat and the ride is free! Yep, Melbournians, in case you didn’t know, if your train journey ends before 7am, the ride is free. A handy initiative by the Vic government to reduce congestion at peak times. Not sure how effective that is, but I’ll cash in all the same.

I’ve found multiple benefits from doing this. Firstly, I’m far more alert during the day, and this boosts my productivity, helping me to get home just that little bit earlier. Next, it saves me having an extra shower after my run (if, for example, I did my workout during lunch). Finally, when I get home, I don’t have to waste an extra hour or two of E’s awake time running – I get to spend it all with him!

And so life goes on. Of course, some of us are fortunate enough to do something we love for a living, and if you have the opportunity or the risk appetite and the guts to make a move to do that, good on you! For now though, I will settle for making lemonade, one trail at a time.


Who'd have thought this was a freezing winter's day?

Who’d have thought this was a freezing winter’s day?

The past two weeks of running:

Tuesday July 22: Morning loop round Albert Park lake. 5km.

Wednesday July 23: Speedwork. Watch wasn’t working. 5km

Thursday July 24: Extended Albert Park lake loop. 6km

Saturday July 26: Lysterfield lake park. 21km. Set a PR on Trig point climb. Met two elderly gentlemen in their late 60s, Bruce and Milton, who had been running in Lysterfield since before I was born, with marathon times over an hour quicker than my PR back in their heyday. They still run at an impressive clip! Had a nice chat.

Sunday July 27: Recovery run. 8km

Week total: 45km.

Tuesday July 29: Morning loop round Albert Park Lake. 5km.

Wednesday July 30: Extended Albert Park loop. 7.5km.

Thursday July 30: Fartlek workout. 5km.

Saturday August 2: Lysterfield lake park. 24km. Smashed last week’s trig point PR, and got to the top feeling fresh! Weather was freezing and sunny, just about perfect really. Trails were muddy and slick, so the Fellraisers got some time on the feet.

Sunday August 3: Recovery run. 8km. Still feeling fresh.

Week total: 50km

Get out there and run!



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4 Responses to The necessary evil

  1. Martha B says:

    Careers are such a tricky thing. Even as a small business owner, I sometimes feel like maybe I am not fulfilling my potential or maybe I could do something that would be more enjoyable. It is a weird place to be – feeling grateful for what you can afford and being able to support your family, but knowing that maybe there is something out there that would ultimately be a better fit. I highly encourage you to look into working towards your career goals, even if it’s a part time endeavor to study the field, get a certification, do something on the side for a few hours a week, and then if it feels right, take the plunge. My good friend Bethany did this over the past three years, and although she continued to work part time as a technical writer for the most part, she finally opened her own yoga studio and was able to quit her job. You CAN have the best of both worlds… The safe job and the dangerous one. And if you love what you do enough, you can make a comfortable life for yourself and your family from doing it. Just a little food for thought. Happy trails to you!

    • Thanks, it’s definitely something to ponder, but I’ll need to be very careful. Trouble is, I think I’m at a point in my career where almost everything else seems like a better alternative, and it’s a bit hard to make a wise decision like that. I would hate to invest a precious couple of extra hours a week (I’m one of those dads that can’t stand to be away from my kid for too long) retraining only to find that it turns something that I love into another chore.

      One thing I’m certain about – I do wish I could run for a living, but given my current level I think running is pretty much going to be a financial outflow by any stretch of the imagination.

      Still, thanks for the encouragement. Puts me one step closer to the edge!

      • Martha B says:

        One more thing…
        Involve your kids. Teach them what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. Involve them in your learning process. It takes a village to raise a child, but it also takes a tribe to fulfill your adult goals. You can make it happen, and having a family support system along the way will make it that much easier.

      • That’s a very good point, and thank God my family is really supportive (well, at least J is. E is a bit to young to know any better for now), and they’ll get on board with anything I want to try (wish I could say the same for my parents, sigh!). Still, I have to draw a balance between chasing my own dreams and making sure I set my family up to chase theirs.

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