For years I have known that running adds value to my life. Earlier this year, I wrote an article for Trail Sisters, “Embracing Depression through Trail Running” and through writing this article, I came to understand more deeply the inextricable link that running and I have with each other. We are one, running and I.
When the article was posted, Nikki Kimball, ultra-runner extraordinaire, commented, “Depression gave me exercise as a life sentence. Exercise gave me the power to fight depression.” As I read this powerful quote from one of my heroes, I was struck with a force like a tidal wave. That was the missing link.
I never connected deep in my soul the NEED I have to run. I always knew I benefited from it and was a better happier person as a result. Running used to be simply a hobby. An enjoyable pastime that I could put aside when time ran short or something else more exciting came along. What I didn’t realize until that moment…..running is a vital part of my being. Like air or water, I cannot live without it.
I have to make it a priority because without it I will wither on the vine. Yet, I am alas human. I still have days when the idea of going for a run cannot compete with binge-watching Netflix or heading to the pub with colleagues or snuggling into bed with my kiddos and hubby to read stories. I have developed a great skill over the years for justifying these deterrents from my fitness plans.
So a few months ago, I set out to change my relationship with my running. I wanted to foster the NEED I have to run and develop habits to bolster my commitment to my self-care. To accomplish this feat, I also needed to disconnect myself from the idea that running was optional. How was I to do this? It was no small task I was asking of myself. Upon examination, I realized that my biggest barrier is the skills I developed to justify skipping a planned training run. So I set out to build an arsenal of questions to ask myself BEFORE I give into my justifications.
1. Why do I feel the need to skip my run today? Asking myself honestly why I want to skip a run gives me some sense of what steps I can take to get moving.
2. What will I gain from skipping my run today? If what I gain isn’t as valuable as what running gives me then I can remind myself that skipping my run isn’t worth it.
3. What will I lose if I skip my run today? If I am starting the day with a run, it puts me in a positive mood for the day. If I am ending the day with a run, it calms me down for a happier evening with my family. Knowing what I will lose if I don’t run is a great incentive.
4. How will I feel tomorrow if I skip my run? The momentary pleasure of ditching a run pales in comparison the great feeling I get knowing I followed through
5. Is there another time today that I can get my run in without compromising another commitment? If I planned an early morning run but would rather sleep in, I will compromise as long as the afternoon is still an option. If it isn’t then I reflect on the other questions.
6. What did I hope to gain from the run I had planned for today? Every run needs a purpose and when considering skipping a run, I think about that purpose. Reminding myself of my purpose gives me the incentive to go out for the run.
7. How can I alter my planned run to still get that gain in a way that might be more enticing? If my planned 10 miler doesn’t strike my fancy, but I can get the same benefit as my planned purpose with an 8 miler, then I will modify. But only after reflecting on the other questions.
8. Am I making this decision prematurely? I have a bad habit of waking up to go to the bathroom at 2 am and deciding in my hazy stupor not get up and run before work. If I am making the decision prematurely, I acknowledge that and push the decision off for a later time. Then when the time comes, if I’m still hankering to skip my run, I start back at the beginning with the questions above.
9. Will I get hurt or hurt someone else irreparably if I go run today? Sometimes running will make an injury worse or will cause me to miss something really important like my sons’ soccer game. If your honest answer is preventing a lasting disappointment of a loved one or missing an important deadline, skipping a run may be appropriate. The key is to be truly honest with yourself. Further, before committing to skipping that run, review question 7.
By asking these questions before making the decision to skip a run, I have found myself immensely more consistent with accomplishing my workouts. And with each time I follow through on my commitment to myself, I find the next time is easier.
Give these questions a try. You might find them helpful next time you would prefer an engaging session of “Game of Thrones” over that 6 mile run you had planned.
The journey continues…..