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.
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.
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.
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