In another life, I was a runner. I strictly followed my training plans as I pursued my first 5K, a half marathon (13.1 miles) PR, and “just one more round” with the marathon distance. I’m a rule follower by nature and an Enneagram type 1. Tell me I’m supposed to do something and I’m compelled to follow through.
I used this mentality with each race I tackled. Each day’s workouts set the expectation for me. Printing off the training plan and highlighting each workout as I completed it made my heart happy. My exercise regime gave me a sense of accomplishment, not to mention a wall full of finisher medals.
After I raced all the distances available (save ultras, which have never interested me), I tried to focus on speed. I’m not a naturally athletic person, so this required more work I wanted to give. I continued racing on occasion, but the routine felt stale. I still crossed the finish line, but without doing my homework.
I completed my last half having only run one “long” run of 8 miles. I still finished at a faster pace than my first half marathon, but the time was closer to the original than I would have liked. And my body hated me for the next few days.
I told myself that I’d give up racing until I had the desire to train properly again. Then 2020 happened. I lost some of my conditioning during the first part of the year. I tried to get my mojo back during April when I worked from home, but something about running the 0.25-mile loop in my neighborhood held no appeal.
I never stopped walking but didn’t have the energy for higher intensity workouts. I love the way Jon Acuff frames it on his podcast (episode 3: Grade Yourself On A Curve.) Understanding the difficulty of last year, both personally and globally, helps me to not beat myself up. When I’m not convinced I’m a garbage person for slacking in my workouts, I’m open to finding ways to win.
Still, I argue within myself. Earlier in the week, I called Jay to get him to talk me down. I wanted fast food instead of a workout. Working when I called, he returned my call when I already sat in the drive-thru line.
I texted some friends today for motivation. “I don’t wanna…I just want to be lazy and read my book.” I made a deal with myself. I would “suit up” and commit one chapter of my audiobook to doing cardio. If, at the end of an entire chapter (of the mid-grade fiction book I’m listening to, or less than 5 minutes), I could call it. I would allow myself to stop and finish my lunch hour reading my book.
I’m sure you can guess where this is going. An object in motion stays in motion. 30 minutes and 50 flights of stairs later, I let myself stop. Legs shaking and sweat dripping down my back, I felt that same sense of accomplishment from my early days of running. Who doesn’t need the extra endorphins in these “unprecedented times?”
I won today. We’ll see what happens when I have the same argument with myself tomorrow.