Friday, January 9, 2015

The first step is the hardest

I'm incredibly happy I'm not one of those poor souls whose New Year's resolution was to start running. 

From the 63kph/39mph winds on New Year's Day to the freezing rain that turned the world into a treacherous world of ice and slush last Saturday to the biting, incessant cold and wind that have settled in this week, it has been an utterly miserable time to be lacing up and heading out the door.

This is before I even leave the house!

If the frigid temperatures weren't enough of a deterrent (since you can dress for that), the actual running conditions have been abominable. The chunky, footprinted ice that threatens a sprained ankle with every step and leaves your hips sore for days; the energy-sucking snow that feels like churning your way through thick mud; the slippery roads & sidewalks that turn traction into a mere fantasy.

How did the Beeb get footage of Saturday's run?

Then there is the blinding snow that feels like sandpaper on your eyeballs, the powerful, gusting wind that seems to halt all forward progress, and the constant challenge of trying to find a safe route to run so you won't be struck by a falling tree, injure yourself somewhere inaccessible by emergency services, end up stranded by the early sunset, or be hit by a car (again). I ended up running a 10 miler as eleven loops 'round a 3-block section of my neighbourhood on Saturday evening just because it was the only thing that looked like a decently safe option in the freezing rain. 

Nobody said you have to be happy about it.

"All right, K - we get the point. It sucks!" I hear you say "so how in the heck do you actually persuade yourself to go outside in that?" Well, truth be told I actually presume most of you simply thought to yourselves "wow, this chick really whines a lot" and stopped reading. For those of you still with me, though, the answer is simple:


Have them. Know them. Imprint them on your very soul.

Whether it's an upcoming race or some other kind of challenge, the only thing that can make you step out the front door and go for a run is your own drive to succeed. Noone else can make you lace up and get it done, no matter how many times we're told that a running partner is a great motivator - unless that partner is actually a family member that lives with you, they're not going to pry you out of bed (or stand between your bed and you to keep you from diving face-first onto it) and kick you out the door.

I run in the evenings from Monday to Thursday. Between September and March, this means I run in the dark after a long day at work, having to stare down my warm, cozy bed and resist its siren song as I change into the endless layers of clothing required to avoid hypothermia and frostbite when the Ice Viking stands astride my town. It's not easy to convince myself to leave the warmth of home to pant and sweat my way through a run that may not even take as long as it did to get ready - I whinge, I procrastinate, and I swear a lot.

Then I go do the damn thing, because I know it's the only way to be ready for the Frosty Trail 3-hour next week. I go because I want to chalk up another workout in the 100 runs in 100 days challenge. I go because I know that I'll generally feel better once I start moving, and may even enjoy myself once I get out there. Failing that, I go because I can learn something from even the most horrible run.

Even if it's just "how much it actually sucks"

Without a goal in sight, I likely would have spent a lot more time on the couch this week - the immediate gratification of a cozy, relaxing evening is so much more tempting than the vague, eventual reward of fitness. If you don't know with rock-solid certainty why you're forcing yourself to brave the bone-chilling horror that is "outside" right now (or even the brain-stabbing boredom of the treadmill), you're much less likely to take that deep breath, square your shoulders and get the hell after it.

The couch is so much more inviting.

So I say to you - find yourself a goal. It can be a race, a frequency challenge (like the Slowtwitch 100 runs in 100 days), wanting to run no less than a certain mileage per week, or something else like a rivalry with a friend. Noone else needs to understand it or validate it: just find something you can latch on to, that will be the spark to light your fire on the darkest, coldest night.

Then go forth and own it. I've got your back!

That being said, it's my night off.


If you think I'm leaving the house again once I get home from work for anything short of the whole place burning down, you'll be sorely disappointed.

1 comment:

  1. Great post, K. Not enough to get me off the dreadmill and hit the streets, but a great post anyway...


Go on, have at me!