Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Motivation to Run

Week 2, Workout 2 of my Couch To 5K Training for 2013 (trumpets sounding, etc.).

I ran on treadmill again today.  I have been setting it to 5.8 for my running times, and 3.5 for the walks.

It's a bit of an improvement on my pace in years past, when I usually went with 5.5 for runs.

Every little bit counts right?

My total distance for each of my workouts so far has been almost exactly 2 miles.  The only difference is the runs I've done on the track, because I have the additional walk to get there.

Oddly, it was a little harder today.  It seems like, having run the same distance two days ago, that shouldn't be the case.  Hey, I pushed a little on Sunday.  Today, well it's just the same routine!  And it is.

Some day's are just harder than others.  It is harder to find the motivation to do the things I need to do.  And running is one of those things that it is hard to get excited about sometimes.  The reasons are pretty obvious.

It is the same with anyone starting something like this.  We've all got busy lives.  There is always something going on, something going wrong, something breaking.  It is overwhelming!

Starting an exercise program is kind of like adding one more layer to a house of cards.  You know that sooner or later there will be one card too much, and sooner or later it will crash.  For me this always came sooner than later, because I'm terrible at building with cards.  Come to think of it, they make a pretty crappy building material.  I guess they are good for analogies for exactly the same reason.  Well, OK I'm off track.

Yes, it is hard to start an exercise routine.  Because yes, it is just one more thing.  But hey, I'm in Week 2.  That means I have already "started."  So, it should be a piece of cake now.  I got up, and got moving!  So nothing but blue skies ahead now!

So.... why is it still so hard to get motivated sometimes?

I think I've found part of the answer:

You don't need motivation to do things you don't consider "optional"

Think about it.  You don't need motivation to eat.  You eat because your body say's, "Feed Me!"  Sure, if you don't eat for a long time, you will die.  And that certainly is "motivation."  Most of us don't really approach that point before feeding ourselves though.  We know we need to eat, and our stomachs say "no better time than the present!"

Besides, eating is fun.  Eating is satisfying.  It is kinda nice that something we have to do, also turns out to be something we want to do.  That doesn't happen often in life.

It certainly doesn't happen with running.  Oh sure, we like the things that come from running.  We like to be more fit.  We like to beat other people in a race.  At least, other people like that.  I think I'd like that.  One day I hope to find out.

But when it comes to "liking" running itself?  No, not really.  I picked up running for a variety of reasons, as can be seen from previous posts.  But in large part, it is simply practical.  I run because I don't know of any other exercise that will give my body the bang for the buck that running does.  It's not overly time consuming.  It doesn't require a huge investment.  It doesn't really matter how good at it I am. 

I hear that people learn to love running over time.  I hope that's true.  There are certainly days that I like it more than others.

In terms of being required, well, running isn't.  I don't have to run.  If I miss a day, I can make it up another day.  It's no big deal. It's primarily a solitary sport.  So, if I miss, who's going to notice?

The thing is, nobody ever misses a meal on Tuesday and say's, "That's OK.  I'll just eat something on Friday!"  Sure, I skip a meal sometimes, but my body is pretty quick to remind me that I did and that it demands satisfaction.  If I don't listen, it will keep pressing the point.  It is pretty relentless on that.

Running isn't mandatory then, in and of itself.  Food is.  It can be treated as mandatory though.  I can decide, "I'm going to run every day that I schedule it.  I don't care what comes up.  I'm going to find a way."

This isn't a new revelation for me.  It probably isn't one for anyone reading this either.  I knew this last year.  So why didn't I stick with it then?  The answer... I just lost that edge.  I started out treating it as mandatory, but at some point, it becomes easier to slack off once.

It always starts with "once".

I'll skip my run this one time.  I'll run tomorrow instead.  Tomorrow, it rains.  Or, tomorrow I have to work late.  Tomorrow, I'll find an excuse why it has to move to another tomorrow.  And on it goes.

Sooner or later, even making excuses gets to be too much trouble, and I just stop trying.

I can see it in my results for last year.  Here's how it breaks down:

Jun-2012, 15 workouts
Jul- 2012, 27 workouts
Aug-2012, 8 workouts (hmm)
Sep-2012, 6 workouts
Oct-2012, 1 workout
Nov-2012, ZZZZzzzzzzzzzzz
Dec-2012, zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Yup, that's where it ends up to this month.  It wasn't a decision to quit running.  It was just a decision to put it off to tomorrow.  The result looks very similar to quitting I know, but it's very different.  Trust me on this one. 

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