Do you ever feel like you just don’t want to go running, and it’s been too many days since you last went, and yet you cannot convince yourself today’s the day? Or you come home for the evening, and you feel cozy with your tea, and you want to keep your feet up and read or blog or do pretty much anything you can think of to avoid of heading out that door into the dusk to run? When suddenly even sorting your closet, doing dishes, hemming your jeans, or taking out the garbage feels more inspiring than running?
I admit this happens to me all the time. Lots of my friends say they are inspired by my running, and that encourages me for sure, but the truth is, there are so many days I really, really, really don’t want to go. Sometimes I can convince myself, and sometimes I can’t.
So what does discipline really mean? Because it’s a word I heard all the time. Phrases like: You’ve got to be disciplined. It takes discipline. Mind over matter. Just do it is my favourite. Yet I feel like I’m not a naturally disciplined runner–my brain just doesn’t grasp the concept. And what about the joy of running? Sure there’s an amazing runner’s high, and there’s the zone so many talk of, but … Sometimes I feel the joy and sometimes I don’t, and honestly, I cannot pinpoint much that is different between those two states of mind.
You’d think I would have learned, but I never do. That when I finally go running, it’s usually such a beautiful run in the golden hour. Or the morning hour. Or the afternoon hour. Or especially in the mist or rain. It doesn’t really matter when I run, pretty much every time, once I’m out there, by about the halfway mark, I’m doing it, I’m loving it, I’m in the zone. Mostly.
And every time I run, I celebrate inside. Every single time, after every single run.
I celebrate because I have been running a year, and that’s a big victory for me. I was one of the people who said, oh I could never, never run. Like ever. And I meant it. And even now, after running fairly steadily for one year, with the support of a running group and my own sole adventures out on the roads and trails, I still still get discouraged and so tired. I still have trouble running without breaks. I get stiff legs and sore shins when I am working on a better stride. I find it hard to run up hills and in the summer heat, and quite frankly, I find it hard to keep going when my body is wishing I would stop.
But running is good for me in so many ways, so I keep going. It would be so easy to give up. I can’t honestly say I know the answers, but here are my best 5 tips that have helped me get out there on days or nights when I really didn’t feel in the mood for running:
- Music ahead of time. On my way home from work, I start listening to my running playlist in my car. As soon as I hear my favourite running songs, that part of my brain kicks in, and my body starts asking to run.
- Put on your running gear. Sometimes even when I’m not feeling it, I put on my running gear and then keep setting about my activities at home, dishes, laundry, reading or whatever. Pretty much the minute those running clothes are on me, my body starts asking to run.
- Run with friends! At least twice a week I am motivated to show up, simply because I have friends who are expecting me. If it wasn’t for this running village, I can promise you, I would not have lasted a year.
- Mix it up. Running the same 5 miles every day at the same pace gets boring after a while. Choose different routes. Move from your neighbourhood to a river trail, or vice versa. Switch to hill running, or speed training once per week. Slow it down or speed it up.
- Take it one day at a time, and celebrate each and every run as a victory. When days go by without running and you feel like you’ve lost some of your stamina, just get out there. Forgive yourself and start again. It’s a fresh day, and running is better than not running. Just like I’ve learned that being a slow runner is so much better than not running at all.
I’m thankful for friends who run with me, and friends who encourage me. If I didn’t have my little running village, there is no way I’d be here, calling myself a runner. And I am so grateful that I run. Because when I make the decision to run, and it’s that perfect night, where dusk is on the cusp of turning to dark, and the sun is setting, and the river is calm, and the air is the perfect temperature and so fresh on the trails, I thank my lucky stars that I run, and I tell myself I will run every day for the rest of my life. It’s a huge gift, a complicated one, and a way of life I haven’t quite grasped or conquered, but a tremendous gift just the same.
And by the way, if you tell yourself that you could never run, trust me you can. I was that person, and I’m telling you, if I can do it, anyone can do it.
Photos by Arek Adeove and Heather Emond