Desire to Run

Do you really want to do this? Why?

When friends ask for advice about getting into running, this is what I should say to them (instead I tend to demur and tell them to do what they are happy with). It is really the core question to consider and answer before embarking on a life of running.

What is your motivation?

I suggest starting with this question because I’ve seen plenty of friends start out with running and in a few short months they tell me it is a drag. I ask why and the answers are varied, but it all comes back to that central question – why are you doing this? In short, what are your goals? If you don’t have a goal you probably lack objectives and in turn have no compass or direction for the weekly grind of putting in the miles. Running to run is not a goal. Your not a perpetual motion machine cranking out the same rote actions.

Wanting to run a marathon is a goal. Wanting to put in X minutes per week to increase your cardio is a goal. Even the dreaded specter of weight loss is a goal (although I must say, exercise is a small piece of the weight loss equation, contrary to what many think). The list goes on and on – you need to find your motivation, the answer to the why. Without it you will hit a brick wall in your running program.

‘In the absence of a deadline nothing gets done.’

This is one of my favorite little chestnuts to rollout at work. It has obvious application for work situations – managing a project, working on priorities, organizational goal attainment, etc. (Here is a link to a great little podcast that talks about applying that sort of thinking to personal creative projects. It applies just as much to running). People like to keep work and personal life separated, but I say boulderdash. Why not leverage successful techniques and methods in either domain. Put some structure around your running life. Align it with your desire and motivation (again, the why). Don’t think of running as something you do 3 times a week for the rest of your life. That’s tedious. That’s enough to make me want to stop running. Instead chunk your running into concrete and discreet segments. Answer the ‘why’ for 2010 only (what’s left of it anyway!). From today through 12/31, what do you hope to get out of running? Plan your daily, weekly and monthly running regiment around that goal.

Look at 2011 and set a goal or multiple goals. The balance to the desire, the part we don’t like to acknowledge, is reality. You might desire to run a marathon in April, but if you live where I do (or probably 60% of the rest of the country) then be prepared for winter running. That means running in the dark. Running in adverse conditions – rain, snow, ice, etc. Getting out there when it is cold. Running in the cold and staying cold until you heat up from the run. Does that sound bleak, tough and uninspiring? It is if you really don’t like those conditions. Because that is a large part of what you need to consider and account for if you really desire that April marathon. I’m not attempting to discourage, I’m trying to help establish realistic expectations. If those are show-stoppers then hold off on running until April. Be a summer/fall runner. There is nothing wrong with that, as a matter of fact it can keep you fresh – apply a season mentality to running.

So again, answer the why but be sure your answer aligns with reality. One more thing about desire. If you reread the above, you will see I didn’t talk about ability. When I say ‘ability’ I’m not talking about actual physical skill or running at a certain level. Conversely it is not about evidenced injury that would prevent you from running (ex. Bad knees that balloon up after 2 miles on any day, warm or cold). I’m getting at your internal voice. That voice that tells you ‘stop this, go home. Have a beer or a hot chocolate by the fire. Stay in bed. Snuggle under the covers. Don’t run today, you can run tomorrow.’

The mental challenge.

Your ability to succeed, to attain what you desire is directly proportional to mental fortitude. Continue to have positively directed thoughts on achieving your goal, on achieving the goal for that day. If you start to think negatively, then guess what – you’ll always find a reason not to ‘do it.’ When that alarm goes off your first thought should be ‘what running shirt should I wear” or “what route should I take” or “which playlist should I queue up?”  Anything else is a distraction.

Good luck, keep running, get those feet on the road.


About Feet on the Road
Avid runner, looking to share what I've learned from trial and error.

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