Monday, January 12, 2009

Daily fitness - what gets me out of bed?











Back in the early '90's, when I was running regularly, I used to dread mornings because it meant that I had to get up, gear up and head out into the streets of Manhattan for my daily run. It was only by force of willpower that I did this. Although I knew that running was great exercise I really didn't like it. I went into running with the wrong expectations and struggled through my experience. My willpower was not strong and when my running partner left for two weeks to visit friends in LA I found it a convenient time to take a short break. That break ended in August of last year.

Today I get up and look forward to my run. If the weather is too severe for running I'm unhappy but I'll still run on the treadmill or I'll use the elliptical machine. People sometimes tell me that I must have great willpower to train every day. I wish that were the case but I must admit that it's not. I have no more willpower today than I did in August 1992 but my enthusiasm for running is much different now. Unlike my earlier experience when I chose distances that were too challenging, I've built up distance incrementally proportionate to an increased level of fitness. I also track performance and distance carefully so that I can set expectations and quantify progress. Back then, when running alone, I'd hit the street and run until I was exhausted, often walking home miles from where I began. I had no sense of whether I did better or worse from day to day. Technologies that passively track distance and mapping resources like Google Earth were not available to me then so I had to play it by ear. I also failed to appreciate the difference between a hostile and an enabling environment. Running the streets of NYC (with the exception of the NYC Marathon) is a dangerous and frustrating experience. Had I run in Central Park instead I may have had more motivation.

I run now because I love the experience. Cross training is part of that as well because better conditioning equals better fitness which allows me to run further and faster. As for willpower, I could use that to help me keep my resolution of taking skip days.

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