This past weekend was full of nothing much but gaming, though I did spend all Saturday playing with Audrey and a 14-week-old Miniature American Eskimo puppy, who has more energy packed in a tiny, little, 7 lb. body than an endurance runner’s souped-up energy drink. Adorable, by the way, and Audrey loved it. (Thanks, Jade, for letting us babysit!) I spent way too much time, though, on Friday and Sunday playing games. I actually didn’t get out for a run, despite several attempts and plans to do so. I felt the consequences of my choices.

Honestly, I felt like pure crap yesterday. Not because I was sick, but because I had sat so long at my computer desk playing games. I felt the same as when I used to game all the time. My body ached, my head hurt,  and my eyes were sore. I noticed my performance in-game was not where I wanted it to be. I was a little slower, a little more clouded. Things just didn’t seem to be as clear, and I definitely struggled to play all the way until the end of our session.

For those of you who don’t know me, I have always been a pretty serious gamer. In middle school, I played a ton of text-based RPG-style games, as well as your standard console RPGs like Final Fantasy 7, 8, 9, etc. I emulated my brother, who was always much better at these games. In high school when he moved to games like Star Craft, I got into that too, as well as other games like Counter Strike. I would spend hours and hours after school, many times ignoring all other responsibilities. Finally, I got my hands on a game called World of Warcraft. Yes, the dreaded WoW, which I have played more or less consistently for the past six to seven years and still do today.

I really struggle with this part of my life, with finding the proper balance between real-life obligations such as school and work, and my desire to rise to the best of the best in games like WoW. If you’ve ever met me, you know that if I do something, it’s either 150 percent or 5 percent. There is no middle ground. I am  not content with being average. I either don’t give a crap about it and scrape by (sadly, this is how I approached some classes at school), or I apply myself to the point of exhaustion until I get to where I want to be.

I wanted to bring this up because everything in life needs balance. Exercise has helped me strike a balance with gaming. It makes me feel sharper, more awake, and faster. Running has also helped me find a little bit more balance in my personal life with Ellie. Instead of plugging in right when I get home, I know that I want to go for a run. It also makes me want to eat better and make better dinners for Ellie so she eats healthier. It has given me more energy to help clean up the house, keep the dog happy and exercised. It has helped me communicate with Ellie better, and I just in general feel much more at peace and even.

Sometimes in life you need a grounding force to help you deal with your weaknesses. I’ve always struggled with gaming, with eating, with properly balancing my time with my wife and the time I spend on games. Building a solid foundation with running has helped me balance the rest of my time.

This weekend has helped me realize how much I need to run. I saw how not running made me feel so crappy and unmotivated—and I don’t want that. I want to do right, and the right thing for me is to go pound some pavement. There is time for games, but only after I get my runs in and take care of my obligations.

Gamers: Go out for a run, if for no other reason than to improve your in-game experience. I’m telling you, your reflexes will improve, and you will feel 100 percent better. Your constant headaches will vanish. And hey, you might just see a pretty girl out there who will stop and pick you up when you trip and fall . . . Better than the Deeprun tram . . . ?