1.13.2014

10 More Things I've Learned from Running: The Don't Give Up Edition

I've run 2 half marathons and am training for a full marathon.  And I still think running is hard and I still fight the voices in my head that want to quit.  Just this past weekend the wind was blowing literally 20 miles per hour in my face and I wanted to kill someone.   I was also still recovering from a head cold and couldn't catch my breath.  It sucked.  And I let it get to me and I tucked my tail between my legs and started walking after 2 miles.  I hate that I did that and I've been stuck feeling that way ever since. 

Doesn't make me a bad person.  Just means I'm normal.  And I already knew that.  I'm just some girl that gives it a try.  And now I'm just some girl that's going to give it another try tomorrow.

Just last week I had someone at work ask me how I keep going.  She'd tried it and given up thinking it was just too hard and something she could never do.    It reminded me that I thought that, too, for a long time.  It also reminded me that the things that helped me to push through when I want to quit haven't really changed that much since then.    A reminder wouldn't hurt before I give my long run another try tomorrow.


10 Things I've Learned from Running: The Don't Give Up Edition:

1. Before every long run, even after having run for over a year now, I always feel sort of worried that I won't be able to make it the whole way. I worry this will be the day the real me will make an appearance and wuss out. Sometimes I worry I just won't be feeling it. Sometimes I worry it will hurt. Sometimes I just worry I'll just give up.
I often wonder if that will go away after I've been running long enough. I’ve come to accept that it might not. I try to look at is as a challenge as I head out the door. A challenge to prove to myself that today is not that day.  Tomorrow still might be.  But not today.
2. Never give up on your run and go home while you are running uphill. I always want to quit on hills. Always. They're hard. I'm with you. I get it. Just get over them. Literally (Ha ha! See what I did there?!). Life is always better on the downhill. So give yourself the chance to get to the downhill. You will love life again. Or you will at least love life more than you did when you were going uphill. Decide on the downhill and only on the downhill if you are going to quit.

Most likely you’ll forget by the time you get to the downhill and just keep going. And that’s really the goal. For me, this lesson is the equivalent of not making significant life decisions while Aunt Flo is visiting. Because you are emotional and will not be thinking as calmly and rationally as you need to for a significant life decision. Give it a few days. If you still want to sell all your worldly possessions and move to North Dakota next week, so be it. Same with hills when you're running.

3. I set a distance or amount of time I'm going to run before I leave the house. I know some people can leave the house and run however long they feel like it. I admire those people. Deeply. But I'm not those people. I won’t “feel like” doing anything but going home and laying down. If I don't have a plan, when the voices in my head start suggesting I stop and go home, I'm way more susceptible to temptation. If I have a plan, I can convince myself to not stop until I get there. If I quit before that, I know I'll be hacked off the rest of the day. I know that because I’m not perfect and have quit before and experienced being hacked off. So I try really, really hard stick to the plan. No excuses.

4. Don’t make the plan crazy. When I decide how far I’m going before I leave the house, I don’t pick some random crazy number. I pick a reasonable, doable number based on the weather, my training plan for a certain race, or how much time I have before I need to leave for work. If the furthest I’d run in my whole entire life was 3 miles, deciding on a random Sunday afternoon to go for 15 miles would be an example of crazy. First because 15 miles is just crazy all by itself. Second, because you need to work up to that.  If you get crazy you'll hate life the entire time and potentially injure yourself.  That would suck.

5. When you are struggling to keep going, set a smaller mini goal for yourself. When you get there, set another. Keep doing it. In the beginning my mini goals were like “just get to the trash can.” Now my mini goals are, “don’t look at your Garmin to see how far you’ve gone until the end of the path in the park.” On long runs especially, I try really hard not to think too much about the total mileage I’m trying to get to. I’ll focus on getting a ¼ of the way or even just 1/8 of the way.
6. Don’t look at your watch so much. It’s like watching paint dry. It sucks. Think about other things. Worst case scenario, make a grocery list in your head and try to memorize it. Best case scenario, think about stupid stuff you’d like to do in the future you always put off thinking about. Things like, “I wonder if the piano would fit in that spot next to the fireplace.” I mentally move furniture a lot. I rarely move actual furniture. Checking your watch too much can become like a bad habit and you may need to work on breaking it. That’s when I start setting the small mini goals not letting myself look at it until the corner.

7. If you practice not quitting, you’ll get better at it. For me, my mini goals come in handy for that. Lately I've been practicing not looking at my Garmin so much on long runs. When I successfully meet a mini goal of not looking until I get to a certain point, I'll make the next goal longer to keep challenging myself to try to get better at it. I used to be addicted to looking at my Garmin. At first for pace and then for distance. Now I rarely look at pace even when I'm checking distance. The more you practice, the easier it gets.

8. Having a running buddy can be handy to keep you on track. Two mornings a week I run with a friend and knowing I'd be leaving her hanging is a great motivator on early mornings when the snooze button is calling my name. She was on vacation for several weeks and I was on my own. My alarm sometimes went on vacation, too.

9. You can do it. You really can.  You can do more than you thought. You can do hard things. You. Imperfect you. Just keep pushing. It may not be pretty. It may not be fun. But you can.
10. The pride of finishing something difficult will stay with you all day. When you think about quitting, picture in your head being able to say the rest of the day that you did it. Picture having a slice of cake at the birthday celebration at work without feeling guilty because you burned all those calories that morning. Picture having the rest of the day free to do what you want because you already knocked out getting some exercise in. Picture telling your husband you did it. Whatever it takes.
Because it does feel good when you’re done. It really does. Like stick out your chest proud. And even if you don’t do it to burn calories and be healthy, sometimes when your weight, or your eating or even your life in general is off track, you could use something to feel proud of. Feeling proud helps you feel good about yourself. And feeling good about yourself will fuel other great stuff in your life. If nothing else, it can fuel a good day and we can all use one of those.



Previous Lists of Things I've Learned From Running:
10 Things I've Learned From Running
10 More things I've Learned From Running: The summer hot as hell edition
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