Distance, or speed? Which will it be?

I asked myself the other day whether I should aim to run further, or run faster. Which is better? Which is more advantageous? Which is healthier and safer for an older person?

I have already concluded that sprinting can cause injury. Sudden starting and stopping might take your muscles by surprise, and your heart, too. Very experienced runners likely know how to avoid sprinting injuries. I have never tried sprinting except by accident, that is, having to run fast because a speeding car is headed my way. I recall one time a car nearly hit me, a few years back in Pittsburgh, I actually froze in place. I froze and screamed. I was very lucky the car managed to stop without hitting me. A witness (bus driver) told me he had seen the whole thing and said the car was driving through the intersection illegally. That particular intersection is notorious for such antics.

That aside, most of the time when I run it is planned. I have been running 5k regularly but realize I need a greater challenge. I consulted my running friend who told me to go for distance. I paid close attention to his reasoning. He said to increase distance and speed will naturally follow.

Now I have to think about this for a minute. Which is better, to do one thing very very well, or to learn many things but because you have widened your experience, sacrifice expertise in that one thing?

Which is better, to try out a variety of entry level positions, become a master of more trades, or to stick with one position and rise in the ranks?

We likely know people who have chosen the narrower path, to learn everything they can about one single topic and then become experts in that one thing and one thing only. Some PhD programs are like this, while others stress a well-rounded education. Even at the bachelor’s level we can see students focusing on only one academic endeavor, excluding others. I remember when I was a music major at UMass/Amherst it was like that. A good 90% of my classes were music classes. We had our little cliques, too. We talked music, used our jargon, joked about music, and for the most part, had one-track minds.

People majoring in other fields weren’t so narrow in their academic focus as we were. I remember meeting people who studied economics, “poly sci,” or other topics, and they questioned why I only talked music, why I was so immersed in it…as if this was somehow abnormal or unnatural at the bachelor’s level. I didn’t think there was anything wrong with it at all!

Shall I focus on getting my 5k faster, shall I work on longer distances? I decided to heed my runner friend’s advice, or at least try it out for a while. So yesterday I ran 4 miles instead of 5k.

Likewise, I’m rather proud of myself because I have widened my career path. I am learning how to do IT tech support and also now financial support for customers, in addition to my retail job. Now I can add these to my resume, add stripes to my uniform.

One of the main reasons I did this was for job security. Spread out thin between part-time jobs I know I will always be working one or the other. If any of these contracts falls through I am still employed.

Agreeably, it should be my 20s right now. It is truly the start of my career, which I was deprived of when I was a patient. I’m okay with that, actually. There are advantages to being older at the workplace, advantages I never realized until I finally got hired.

I had the opportunity to think this over while I was on the treadmill just yesterday. How joyful it is knowing my life is just beginning. It is amazing having all these doors to opportunity open to me. Why would I want it any other way?

Feedback and comments welcome!