motivation

Good Days and Not-as-Good Days

Just days ago I posted about a euphoric running experience! That day, my feet felt light, like they were hardly touching the ground. Despite running for more than twice as long, timewise, as I’d ever run before, I broke into a sprint during the last minute. When I made my time, I felt energized, like I could keep going forever. When it started to pour cool rain about midway through my run, it was a welcome, refreshing gift from the sky! I jumped to the ridiculous conclusion that from now on, every run would feel this wonderful. Heck, though I posted about aiming next for 5K, my “more” brain was thinking more along the lines of 10K, half marathons, maybe even…no, I won’t even say it.

In the very few days since then I have learned a humbling lesson: it won’t happen like that every time. I set out again this morning after two days of rest during which I did other things. It was a delightful morning, fall is definitely in the air. Perfect temperature — cool but not cold. My mood and enthusiasm could have been better, but nevermind. An energizing run was just the thing. Today’s goal: 5 minutes of walking, 15 minutes of running, 3 minutes of walking, 10 minutes of running. I didn’t make it for 15 continuous minutes–I needed not one but TWO short breaks (about 30-60 seconds each) to get there. I huffed and puffed. Gone was that skipping-across-air sensation I had on Friday. Instead, my feet felt like lead. Everytime I looked at my watch, hoping to be rewarded with the news that more time had passed than I thought, my estimate of how much time had gone by (and how much still to go) was way off. Where on Friday time flew, this morning, it dragged along with my feet. Part way through, I gave up on the “plan” but continued to walk-run for a good 35 minutes in total, shortening the walk times and lengthening the run times as I went. When I got home and pushed “stop” on Endomondo, I experienced a couple of welcome surprises. First, despite feeling like I was slacking, I covered more ground today than I have before. And second, my fastest time was faster than my fastest time most other days.

Samantha likened exercise to writing and I agree with that. As a writer, I know that some days the words just flow through me and onto the screen, other days, it’s tedious and agonizing. I don’t regard this as a problem to be solved. It’s just the way things are. And so I show up at the keyboard and write anyway, committing to a specific length of time (usually I follow the Pomodoro Technique and write in 25 minute chunks of uninterrupted time). Sometimes the time flies and I feel like I could write forever, occasionally, it’s almost unbearable but I do it anyway. And as I’ve committed to it as a practice, to be done regardless of my mood, those unbearable times have become fewer and fewer. It’s not that I’m always inspired and on fire, but I can usually count in at least a neutral experience. I’m going to start approaching running like that. Just log the time and the distance, and some days I’ll feel like I could run a marathon (well, maybe not a marathon) and other days I’ll feel like I just started out, but most days will be somewhere in between. And, just as in writing, it always feels better to have moved forward, no matter how little (or much), than to have done nothing.