It still feels strange being introduced as “the runner” whenever I meet a new person. Sometimes that intro makes me feel like a phony Mr. Miyagi, as if I could connect some dots for your running life that you had not known but the truth is I don’t have any answers. I can tell you what I have learned in my experiment of one but that’s pretty much it. What I will try to do is transmit the positive effect fitness has had in my life and hope to inspire others to just give it a shot.
How do you start? Determine what your purpose is and if that purpose is sustainable.
Are you running to lose weight?
Are you running to be healthy?
Are you training to knock that Marathon off your bucket list?
Are you trying to complete an ultra-marathon?
Be sure the purpose is sustainable. When I began running I was pissed off at how much my health had declined. Anger is not a sustainable fuel for long term fitness. Anger got me out the door but after a few miles I learned that it’s impossible to stay angry forever. The only thing that I was achieving was running out of gas or injuring myself.
When I realized I could not go to the anger well every time I needed motivation I reassessed and my training reflects that. I completed a marathon and an ultra-marathon but my resolve weakened afterwards. I lagged as if I was one and done, but discovered that behind my anger there was a commitment to myself; to be a better healthier me. A better healthier me was not only a physical but also a mental goal. “Alex the runner” was fine but I wanted “Alex the guy who wants to make his world a better place and happens to run”. Took me a while to decipher but once I did my training picked up. I run because I love it and enjoy sharing the positive results it has had on my attitude and health.
So if you want to run with the sole purpose of “being healthy” like I did beware. It is the most common reason but it is also the easiest one to lose sight of. What is your standard or measure? … be specific. When goals are not specific we lose track of them and start to waiver in our commitment. Remind yourself of those commitments by writing them down, getting a coach/trainer or joining a larger community with similar goals like DailyMile.com. Whatever your reasons and motivations end up being remember to ask the all-important…what happens when I achieve my goal?
When you achieve your goal be present in that achievement. Enjoy it and be 100% there. Don’t think of the next thing when you are doing this one…that’s like talking about food at a restaurant. Not all your training will go well nor will it all be pretty…I had the bloody nipples to prove it...just being present in your all achievements whether its race day or day 2 of the training plan.
But the answer to the “what happens next” question will be the one that either keeps you going or stops you in your tracks. That answer is individual as a fingerprint and no one will have the same one. So the next time you are tempted to ask the “runner” in your life, why do you run? Do not expect to get a clear or even intelligible answer. Instead honestly ask yourself why don’t I run? And if you give a real answer and not an excuse you’ll be closer to understanding their reasons for running.