Don’t Waste Time on Garbage Miles (or Are You Really Making Progress?)

Since joining True a few years ago, I’ve picked up a hobby of long distance running as a way to relax in the morning before work.

Talking to others who run – one of the most fascinating concepts that has come up – is the concept of the “Garbage Mile”

Loosely, a “Garbage Mile” is:

Miles run with no purpose, that often fall in the range of too slow for threshold work and too fast for endurance training.

Or more simply – miles run with no purpose – for the sake of hitting a milestone (be it days run per week or a mileage goal)

And while no mileage for training is bad – the debate is around whether or not the small marginal benefit of these miles outweighs the potential high cost of an injury (which is more likely in these scenarios.)

Viewed through the same lens – its interesting to think about day-to-day work – especially at startups where long hours and all-nighters are seen as a badge of honor.

The trap is that Founders (in 95% of cases) are do-ers – they feel progress by taking action and “doing” things.  However, the reality in many cases is that many of these activities will create minimal additional value – and in many cases detract from the Founders ability to see into and execute in the future.

The issues with garbage work:

  • Are you giving yourself enough time to think and reflect on the future?
  • Are you creating more work to create the feeling of progress – even though you’re not actually moving?
  • Are you giving your body time to rest and reset to be alert for future important work?
So next time you’re about to embark on a new project or task – ask yourself – is this driving us forward? will this make real progress? or is this just work for works sake?


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I work for True Ventures, an early-stage venture capital fund with offices in San Francisco and Palo Alto. We partner with promising entrepreneurs at the earliest stages in the technology market providing hands-on management support to guide our portfolio companies through the challenges of early growth.

  • So true!

    As both an endurance athlete (runner, triathlete, cyclist, swimmer) AND a founder (GOTRIbal), I can relate.

    the beauty of being an endurance athlete? Seeing these lessons in our training and applying them in our personal and professional lives.
    There are so many good ones!

    Keep on running!
    Onward and upward, always.
    Tanya Maslach
    Founder, GOTRIbal