After I told you about the most important thing to do before running, of how to get started and how to choose the shoes with which to do it, assuming you have put these tips into practice and started running with some consistency, you will have become acquainted with one of the most insidious enemies of motivation: the search for excuses not to do it, otherwise known as “lack of willpower.” Despite the obvious progress made in these first few weeks, despite the satisfaction that finding yourself able to do things you never imagined you could do has given you, sometimes finding the impetus to go out for a run is not easy. As mentioned above, the first step is the most difficult. Let us therefore see how to simplify it as much as possible. The trick is to put yourself in a condition to go out for a run by limiting on the one hand the thousands of reasons you give yourself for not doing it and by facilitating the act of running.
Silence the demotivator in you
Your mind is you greatest ally but also the most fearsome enemy. It can convince you to do things you didn’t think you could do – like running, you who have done almost no physical activity your whole life! – But it can also come up with a thousand tricks to convince you that it is not worth it. But, at the same time, it can be controlled. How? Knowing the mechanisms it uses to convince you that it is not worth it, fooling it at its own game and spotting the bluff it is trying to play. What is the simplest argument it will use to convince you that the couch is better than a run? Easy: that at the end of the day, your results are not worth the effort you are making to get them. It may even convince you that you haven’t lost the 20 kg you thought you would lose in a single week. It will be very convincing, to the point of persuading you that 20 kg in one week was a perfectly reasonable weight loss.
Solution: don’t listen to it. If you think this is too brutal a solution, use a softer approach: counter its arguments with the observation of how well you are *after* running. Now you know, it is undeniable. The fatigue while you run is a lot but the well-being afterwards makes you forget it right away.
The practical aspects
The alibis we can come up with for not running are a lot. The main one is “I don’t have time.” Do I have to explain to you that it is not true and that, once again, it is only your mind that makes you believe it?
Talking about time, the only approach is to its organization. There may be days when you are overwhelmed by events and really don’t have time but most of the time it is just a matter of getting organized. So here is how to do it.
If you run early in the morning, prepare what you need to run before you fall asleep so that you don’t have to look for it before you go out, wasting unnecessary time. It’s like when you have to catch an early train or plane the next day: you don’t decide how to dress just before going out, do you? Just do it the night before.
If you travel for business or pleasure, always carry your running gear with you. If the trip is for pleasure you will be able to discover a new place in a different way; if you do it for business you will be able to distract yourself. Think of your running stuff as an always-ready secret weapon in your suitcase: now you have a superpower, didn’t you know? Ah: don’t forget to pack your suitcase as only a runner can pack it.
One thing we often repeat is that exercise and body care are incomprehensibly seen as secondary activities in daily life. Just as you find time to work, eat, sleep and be with those you love, it is not clear why you cannot also find time to run or exercise. Think of it from the perspective of units of time: an hour is a unit of time. When you go to the Post Office (if you’re lucky) you use half a unit of time; when you loiter on social networks you use another half (actually, adding up all these “social” units in a day you’ll use more, um). If you run you take one and a half, at most two, units a few days a week: half a unit to get ready beforehand and then to shower and a full unit for training. The time you spend on running is percentually much less than the time you spend on other activities that very often do not benefit you at all. Always consider the big picture.
What often causes us to desist from sticking to a schedule is that we experience it as an imposition. Think about the diets or resolutions you make every January 1: at first, motivation is at an all-time high, and then it wanes more and more, until it borders on utter despondency when you realize you will not be able to honor your commitment.
It is the approach that is wrong: anything experienced as a compulsion is eventually obnoxious. If, on the other hand, you think that the goal you set for yourself is a commitment you have made to yourself, failure to meet it means betraying yourself. And you love yourself, don’t you?
So you run because you made a promise to yourself one day, not because you have been told it’s good for you even though you still don’t quite understand how or why.
You will only understand it by doing it, you will only understand it by running. The important thing is to do it.
Until the next installment!
THE GUIDE TO START RUNNING
How to always be ready to run