Showing posts with label habit. Show all posts
Showing posts with label habit. Show all posts

Thursday, January 24, 2013

With running, there is no free will

Repeat forever
Today's run (treadmill): 26 minutes

Despite the concept of free will, most people find themselves following a daily routine. You might think it's just you, but it's not. Back in the days when I lived in the city, I was always amused to see the same people, on the same streets, around the same time, every day. Whether or not you take comfort in maintaining habitual routines, or bristle at the thought that you are a pre-programmed genetic robot, there can be an upside to all these patterns.

A good example is a daily workout. I am constantly amazed to find myself dressed and running before 4:00 AM most weekdays. The routine takes precedence over most other forces. If I wake up feeling ill or fatigued, I'll switch to rest mode. But that doesn't happen very often.

I've been running on the treadmill most weekday mornings. Every time I do, I find it hard to believe that I can make it through my allotted run time. Time seems to go by very slowly and, when I'm only five minutes in, my targeted finish seems awfully far away. The thing that saves me is the routine of these workouts and knowing that eventually I'll come to the end. That was the case this morning. Just like yesterday, the day before, and hundreds of time before that, I completed my time. Hitting the stop button is a habit I'll never want to quit.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

The habitual runner

Today's run (street): 2.5 miles

Daily miles
At some point in my life I became a creature of habit. Twenty years ago I'd vary everything in my life, from my morning routine all the way through to my bedtime. Marriage, kids and commuting by train necessitated an eventual compliance to daily schedules and structure. But when I began running in 2008, all bets were off in terms of where, how and when I would run. Even on the streets of my neighborhood at 4 AM, I would rarely cover the same route two days in a row.

That has all changed, and my running routine now contains less variability than a watch assembly line. Every night my running gear is readied for morning, and my process going from waking to running is done on a minute by minute schedule. Instead of mixing up my route each day, it's always the same roads run exactly the same way to cover exactly the same distance (2.53 miles).

After almost four years of competing, my race schedule has also become a bit of a habit. My expectations were upset this week when I discovered that the Run for the Warriors 10K has been pushed forward from mid-November to this weekend. I love that race but my schedule won't work with the timing. I feel badly about missing this race, because even though I've only run it the past two years, it's on my racing schedule.

I took to the streets again this morning and, like yesterday, it was cold outside. I dressed with more layers today and didn't get around my route as quickly as I did on Tuesday. In fact, it took me over a minute longer, which calculates to about 30 seconds per mile. One thing that remained the same was my route. Some habits are hard to break.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Whatever gets you out the door

Today's run (street) 2.5 miles

Every morning I wake up and look at my alarm clock that's usually about a minute away from going off. Occasionally I'll need that alarm, but in either case, it's only a matter of seconds before I realize that I have to get dressed and go outside for my run. EVERY morning I consider not doing my workout. And EVERY morning I manage to talk myself into getting ready.

One of the things that helps me get out the door is a self agreement that I'll take it easy, just this time. No pressure, just get out and float through my route. By the time I'm standing in front of my house trying to acquire a signal on my Garmin, I'm usually more open minded about putting some effort into the run. About halfway through the run is when I start playing with speed in an effort keep my time below a certain target.

That's exactly the way it happened for me this morning. The air was chilly enough to warrant long sleeves and the cold provoked me into speeding up my stride from the start. Even though I could see vapors from my breathing, I noticed that many of my neighbors were still dutifully watering their lawns. I worked hard to avoid running through spray but got hit from the side a couple of times. Brrrr!

There's a quote that goes, "No one ever says 'I regretted that workout'" and, when I complete my run, I'm always pleased that I did it. The tricky part is getting out the door in the first place.

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