Sometimes, when it’s still dark outside in the mornings and the fog or rain is literally putting a dampner on proceedings, your mind is all ready to rock and roll those sidewalks. You figure you can get an easy 5 miles in, get home, shower, eat breakfast and be changed, ready for work with maybe 20 minutes to spare. You’re all set, but your body just doesn’t want to go. The bed has somehow harnessed Velcro-like qualities and you realize your motivation has gone.
How to beat it?
There are a few things you can do. Just do, say, 10 minutes down the street. It will take you around that to turn around and get back, giving yourself a decent workout of 20 minutes. From there, you can do one of two things. See how far you’ve gone in that time and see if you can beat that distance in further 20 minute runs, or alternatively, just squeeze out another 10 minutes and you’ve probably got close to a 5K if not further. That’s 5K further than you would have been if you were still in bed.
That feeling or thought you’ll get will try to tell you that it won’t matter if you miss another 6 or 7 miles. What’s the point? It’s boring and repetitive. You may have this thought occasionally, but remember that getting into shape doesn’t happen overnight. It doesn’t even happen over a week or a month. Conditioning the mind and the legs is something that needs constant training. If you want to put it into physiological terms, it’s about how efficient your body is in turning fat cells into usable energy. This is taught to the body over a long and steady process. Doing most things slowly and repetitively can be boring, but it’s not senseless. Any successful run is progress. The Grand Canyon looks beautiful doesn’t it? Remember it was carved over many years, it didn’t happen overnight!
Give yourself “Time Treats”. Say you really have no interest in doing 4 miles. Give yourself a buffer of time and “save it up”. Let’s say you have a regular running pace of a 10-minute mile. Target a pace of 11 minute miles. Get to the first mile in 10 minute 27 seconds and you can choose to “save” those extra 33 seconds, or use them to walk until you get to 11 minutes. If you’re feeling particularly good you can make it to mile 2 in 10 minutes 15 and realize you have saved 45 seconds. That’s a minute and 18 seconds you can walk, stop to stretch, whatever you like. It’s your cheat zone, or rather, your “Time Treat”. It’s entirely up to you how you use them.
Remember that pain is a perverse friend. Running or jogging is one of very few sports where your body will experience pain that we happily go through in order to get better. Each time you run 10k it’s like a slight fog of pain that surrounds the prize. Each run, each extra little bit of pain clears that fog away until a 10k becomes nothing at all. It’s just a run to the grocery store and back. They all count; they all help to build up to your goal.
All your runs are pennies you are saving in your running bank and one day, when you want to buy that marathon medal, you withdraw those running hours and cash them in. Make peace with pain. Embrace it and smother it with love. It will soon realize its weak attempts to break you are worthless.
There will also be the bad days when you stop and think, “I’m not cut out to be a runner”. This is a ridiculous notion. If you can run, you can be a runner. It’s as simple as that. If you’re one of those types that tries to use your bigger body size as an excuse as to why you can’t, you turn that into a positive. Heavier folk turn into strong, sturdier runners. Remember there’s a positive in everything. John Bingham, the celebrated marathon runner, said it best.
“If you run, you are a runner. It doesn’t matter how fast or how far. It doesn’t matter if today is your first day or if you’ve been running for 20 years. There is no test to pass, no license to earn. You just run.”
Run for a purpose. Run because you want to please your partner. He or she will love you how you are, so why not lose that 10lbs you know you can without making yourself unhealthy? Run because John at work laughed at the suggestion of you doing that half marathon. SHOW HIM. Finish and stick that medal right in his face. Anger is quite the powerful emotion, and if harnessed correctly, it’s a very underrated fuel!
You can’t run because you forgot to charge your iPod and you can’t POSSIBLY run with Slayer adding a soundscape of brutal riffs and drums through your skull, right? Wrong. There are so many sounds out there that you can keep yourself occupied for the duration of your run. Can you tell cars apart from the engine sound as they approach from behind? The birds chattering, crickets chirping. The swish that trees make in the wind. If it’s a silent course (my favorite run is alongside the LA river/drain, no vehicles or animals at all), listen to the sound of your feet hitting the asphalt. They beat their own rhythm.
Conversely, don’t run for time or for distance, run for an album. Find a track, loop, park, or just anywhere that you know pedestrians and vehicles will be zero and run to an album. Pick an album you know every beat, line, and chord to and listen to it not worrying about how far your run will take you. Immerse yourself in the album and sing along like no one is watching.
At the end of the day, you run for you. Every step is another penny in your run bank.
Why not be a millionaire? Cha-ching.
picture credit Chiccyclist