It is really hard to get up to run in the morning. Even harder during the winter when it’s cold outside. You have to leave the warm cocoon you spent hours building under a stack of blankets. Then the challenge is to put on enough clothes to not die of hypothermia but not so many that you melt after the first 10 minutes (and then have to carry the load with you somehow). The heater in my bedroom seems to create a cozy feeling just as I am trying to get myself toward the front door. And all of these details don’t even consider the car that may have to be scraped, the water and snacks that may have to be carried, or the fog that might fill in my glasses.
In my experience, it is harder to run in the summer heat, but harder to just get started in the winter frost.
So it’s all about starting some dominoes of choices, hoping that each one will help lead to the next. Like if I’m trying for a run that will begin in the (to quote my friend Susan) o’dark-thirty, I’ll sometimes sleep in my running clothes so I don’t have to even consider taking off warm pajamas. I try to bribe myself with favorite breakfast foods and saved podcasts. I’ve found that if I can get all the way to putting my shoes on, I have a 98% chance of getting out for at least two miles.
Along with the physical actions of trying to run, there is a mental game involved too. When I am feeling extra whiny, I try to remember that there is only one run that I have ever regretted. It was on a morning when I ran too far when it was too hot and ended up sick for the rest of the weekend. I’m not sure how many runs I’ve done in the past ten years, but that is the only one I think back on with regret (and a little amazement that I didn’t go to the hospital with heat stroke).
On the other hand, I have countless non-runs that I regret. Just this morning I hit snooze more times than I should have and made it out for two miles instead of my hoped for three. Now I know, I know, I should be proud of every mile I complete no matter the speed. And I agree with that perspective (and would preach it to anyone who wants to try running but feels not good enough). Those two miles were much better than 30 minutes of late night monologues on YouTube. I just knew that I could have done three if I hadn’t hit that button so many times.
Here is what is great about the regret of the non-run: I get to try again. I get to set out my clothes, pick out a breakfast, and save up some podcasts. The chance to try is a gift. And my alarm is already set for 5:30am tomorrow to try again.
I’ve survived 15 marathons and one Ph.D. program. So…now what? I’ve learned through the journeys that it’s not about intelligence, speed, magic beans, or waiting for it to get easy. It’s about strength and perseverance. This year’s blog series will be about #WhatsNext after crossing some major finish lines, and preparing for new starting lines as a runner and a (not that kind of) doctor. I am #RunPhD.