I’m training for a half-marathon. I’ve said it. It’s out there. Can’t take it back.
Seven months ago I couldn’t run more than 500m without feeling like I was coughing out a lung and my feet were falling off. Running is no joke. For a beginner, it’s a great form of self induced torture.
It still is, even after all this time and all the training. I’m not even talking about sore muscles. And because things only improve with time, it has now transformed into a painful, agonizing and horrible experience (hello blisters, back pain and weird bowel movements). Every time I put on running shoes I like to take a quick guess at what is going to hurt after I’m done.
But I love it. Call me masochistic.
Dude, suckin’ at something is the first step to being sorta good at something. – Jake, “Adventure Time”
Your body can get used to anything, given enough repetition and a slow increase in effort. The big problem is your brain. You’d think it would give you a “hand” when it comes to your ambitions and desires, that it would be a good guy and fill your head with thoughts of happiness and success.
It doesn’t. Your brain can be your worst enemy. Common thoughts that pop into my head while running are: you can’t do this, you can’t run that, your foot hurts, you’re tired, try again tomorrow, go have a drink and screw it. I’m sure at least one time you’ve tried a harder workout or had a bigger goal you’ve been sabotaged by your brain in this way.
I’ve heard countless times that this is lack of motivation or mindset. I personally disagree. I think it’s a lack of discipline.
I’ve talked before about how much we like being comfortable, in all areas of our lives. Trying something new gets you out of your comfort zone, but unless you keep at it, you’ll slip right back into its comfy hug. Motivation can get you though a couple of hard spots, however, it’s discipline that keeps you going though the worst of it.
Motivation is heavily associated with a good mood. But moods come and go. Do you want to leave your success in the hands of such an unreliable factor, like the weather?
So I’ve decided to build discipline by running a half-marathon. It’s something that requires patience, persistence, resilience, a lot of time and focus. Foot after foot, breath in, breath out. I would say it’s active meditation, because you have to stay focused in the present: on your current pace, on your course and on not falling on your face.
Compared to when I started, I’m a completely different person. The first few kilometers, I still want to quit. But as I keep going, relying on the repetitive action of putting one foot in front of the other, on the discipline of running, it gets easier and easier. Yes, I get tired, but I move forward because I know I can, because I’ve done it before, because I’m not done yet. I can go farther. I can do this. I can do anything. So I do.
It’s been a long run, pardon the pun. But now I only have a few more days until my big event. At this point, it’s a formality, a race to show that I can run 21km in one go and can still stand at the finish line. It will be great to have a medal to show for all the effort.
But I’ve already won, because my main goal has already been reached. I no longer quit at the first problem, not only when running, but in other projects. I find the energy to persist in my goals. I’ve built discipline. So what are you doing to build yours?
Have a eudemonic week!