This week’s long run: how to run when you really don’t want to

My mom has some very serious health problems, and that (coupled with some travel) has  made me put my running on a two week haitus. Except for an “angry run” of 4k that turned into 6k, I haven’t been lacing up lately, and that’s not good.

Yesterday I put in a 4k, and as usual after a break, it was pretty rough. Not as rough as I knew this morning’s run would be. It was scheduled to be a 10k, but I dropped it to a 7k, knowing that all things considered even that would be a challenge. I would have to fight my lizard brain all the way through this one, so I would have to use all the tricks I had to get through it:

Trick #1: Remove all obstacles to getting out the door. For me that meant setting an alarm, setting out my workout clothes, and charging my headphones the night before.

Trick #2: Promise yourself something nice once you complete the run. For me it was breakfast at my favourite cafe.

Trick #3: Distraction, distraction, distraction. This is the most important thing, and why I chose a new route, and I saved my favourite podcast (Do By Friday) for this run.

Trick #4: Give yourself a break. I allowed myself to stop for breaks, so long as they were only for a few seconds, and I went right back to running again. I needed to decide this in advance so I wouldn’t feel bad about taking the breaks that I knew that I would need. The point was not to beat myself up for something that couldn’t be helped.

It worked, and I got rewarded with some pretty nifty new views:

Get out there and run. You can crush it, no matter what the little lizard says.

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This week’s long run: how to run when you really don’t want to

Back to writing, training and running

After two weeks of not writing and three weeks of not training or running (due to illness), it is hard to get back in the saddle. What was once a breeze is now a pain — staring at that blank page or lacing up is now a terrifying ordeal. The easiest thing to do is cut myself some slack and not write, not train, not run… and feel like a failure.

So I put a timer on for my writing, and forced myself to just work on it for 15 minutes. Timers are a godsend for this. They always help me get over the hardest part of writing, which is starting.

As for the training, it helped that Streaks was nagging me about it, but that wouldn’t have been enough of a motivator at this point, since it was so long since I’d trained and I was still not 100% well. So I selected a beginner’s workout in NTC, and told myself that I could take as many breaks as I needed, skip a few of the exercises, and stop if it was too physically punishing. It took a lot of the pressure and guilt off, and I ended up surprising myself by completing almost all of the workout (NTC’s 46min Start Training, I did everything but the burpees, for those interested). It felt great, and gave me the confidence to go out for a 20 minute run today.

Was it my best run? Far from it. It was slow and hard and I had to stop and catch my breath halfway through. But I finished it, and I now know where my new baseline is. There’s only room for improvement from here.

Back to writing, training and running

Three Good Things

After reading the great “How to Be Miserable” I decided to start keeping a “three good things” journal at my bedside and write in it every night, right before I go to bed.

The idea is to write three good things that happened to you today, and if possible attribute them. It breaks off the habit of always remembering the bad, upsetting or embarrassing parts of your day, and I also found that it helps me (together with regular journaling) clear my mind and fall asleep sooner.

The good things don’t have to be large, sometimes they’re just a nice meal that I shared with someone, or something good that I read or watched, or just a friendly exchange with a friend or someone at work. The thing is, once you start doing it you:

  1. Realize that even in the shittiest of days there is something good to remember.
  2. Train your brain to look for those things throughout the day, so that you can have something to write down at night.

I’ve been using the Field Notes Resolution weekly planner for that, but you might want to use something larger. I just chose the Resolution because it gave me a reason to use the notebook, and it’s small enough that I’m sure that I will have something to write in it every day.

Three Good Things