Do Your Practice and All Is Coming. Sri K. Pattabhi Jois
I've used this quote in a post before. I'm too lazy right now to add the correct link. Pattabhi Jois is the late founder of the Ashtanga Yoga Research Institute in Mysore, India. I had the amazing opportunity to take a yoga class with him in NYC. To me, these words of wisdom apply to life, not just the physical practice of yoga. Practice makes perfect. Practice takes time. Practice builds confidence. There is always the chance of a relapse — perhaps, practice no longer becomes habit or practice doesn't seem as meaningful. That's okay. Start over. Start again.
This past weekend I had four conversations with four different people about their roadblocks related to their running regimen. Some women are having trouble jumpstarting their fitness after the holiday; some feel as if they should be progressing faster; and some are trying to balance their mental drive versus their physical ability. Please believe me when I say that I don't have all the answers. Okay...there it is in print. Save it, post it, remember it. That's the last time you'll see that from me. The purpose of this evening's post is to help coach you through some of this crap.
You Lack the Motivation to Start a Program
Sounds to me like you're contemplating the start of a fitness program. You sound pissed enough that you're not motivated to get off the couch. This is a good sign. Baby steps, people. Without understanding where you are in life (job, lifestyle, fitness level, goals), I don't have enough clairvoyance to help diagnose the cause, but I do know that you're headed in the right direction. Maybe you're not sure of an activity best suited for you. I recommend that you team up with someone of like interests. Start talking about your goals, your likes, your dislikes. Building a relationship with a like-minded partner will help drive both of you towards success.
You Fell Off the Wagon
Everyone goes through phases of relapse. At some point, you may be able to predict your behavior prior to relapse AND you might be smart enough to intervene. For example, maybe before every major deadline at work you put in longer hours and see an increase in your stress levels. Reaching for a sugary caffeinated beverage or a candy bar in the afternoon becomes all too common. Maybe you rush to get to the office earlier by sacrificing your breakfast. In these situations, you can plan ahead, by preparing an on-the-go breakfast the night before; instead of grabbing that candy you opt for a brisk walk around the parking lot. Whatever the reasons, always remember that you can pick up where you left off. Don't kick yourself when your down, just get back up.
You missed a run. The holidays arrive. Work gets in the way. Damn weather. Think on your toes if you can't stick to your usual routine. Maybe you typically hit the gym on Thursday evenings, but due to a power outage the gym closed early. Don't go home and sulk about it - BE CREATIVE. Power walk at the mall - yup, be that person. Or maybe you go back to your office and run the stairs. Add in a few burpees after each flight. Use the gym at your community center or pop in a fitness DVD. There are plenty of valid reasons for not making a workout, but there's always another option.
You Expect More Progress
This is a biggie that can also be when recovering from an injury or illness.
Incorporating fitness into your life is more than just a past time. For me, it's a lifestyle. There are so many reasons why I have made fitness a priority. I am here, at this point in my life, as the result of trial and error; I lived and learned; I fell of the wagon time and time again, only to pick myself back up again. It's not easy, please do not misunderstand that fine point. Most of you know that you won't lose 10 lbs. after getting your ass up off the couch to walk one block. Things take time. Remember - do your practice and all is coming. It's difficult to make working out and eating well a habit; it's easier, in my opinion, to let it slip away. Keep at it. Let me elaborate.
You want to run because some asshole friend with a blog talks about it A LOT. There must be something magical about this running thing, so you give it a whirl. Running sucks. But you keep at it. At some point, you're interested, VERY interested in maintaining this activity. Perhaps, you like it enough that you start talking about it, learning about it and maybe even dreaming about it (I should probably reel that back in...but I won't...cause I KNOW you, deep down, LOVE to run). Blah, blah...time goes by. You squeeze in some runs, but life and the weather get in the way. You fall out of habit and before you know it, days, maybe even weeks, pass and the only running you've done is to the oven when you smell the cookies burning. Then, there it is...a break in the weather. "Ohhhh, boy...this is it, " you say. "I'm going to go for a run." Shoes, check; watch, check; RoadID, check (I should get paid for that); out the door we go... Your last run (when was that?) hovered around the 5 mile mark. Today, you're sucking wind. Life sucks and running is stupid. You return home, in tears, only to find that you barely hit 2 miles and that was a weak run/walk at best.
Every run is different. Whether you've been training regularly for thirty years, or you just started - EVERY RUN IS DIFFERENT. It's too easy to get frustrated with a lack of progress, but take a moment — extended time off from ANY activity will affect future performances. Keep it real by lowering your expectations. This is the ultimate mind game. Your head might want to push you towards 5 miles (you did it before), but your legs might not be conditioned enough (are you freakin' kidding me?). Cut yourself some slack. The more you stress about not making 'the mark' the more it will affect your body, both mentally and physically. This will lower your defense mechanisms and you could wind up sick. And THAT, my friends, will result in more time off...now you're really behind. It's a vicious cycle.
The run won't be enjoyable if you're consistently harping on your performance, your mileage and/or your pace/time. And that saddens me, because the run is amazing.
The run is amazing.