Known fact about myself: I lack discipline.
I’ll start things, alright. I can get pretty creative and come up with new things I want to do with ease. I almost can’t help myself – the number of unfinished short stories I’ve written could substantiate a whole book. I thought to myself: what can I do to change this?
The answer was: something I just can’t get rid of no matter how hard I try or how loudly I whine.
Step number one was easy; I figured that whatever it was I had to use as a tool to instill discipline in me, it had to be something I couldn’t deny. Something that would make me feel ashamed of myself, like a failure, if I floundered in upholding it as important.
But I had to set myself up for success, so it had to be something no-frills, a thing that would be immune to many and most of my known excuses. An activity that would fit into my busy, often unpredictable schedule. Something I could do near work or at home or early in the morning or late at night-
Step number two: how long is this going to be? Doesn’t it take 21 days to instill a good habit, according to popular belief and some science? Well, I don’t trust myself that much – let’s make it a cool, even number.
Which is how we got to the 30 Days of Running challenge.
For someone who often welcomes post work happy hours or sudden creative writing bursts as excuses to put exercising to the side, this should be interesting.
Day 1: Alright. Let’s do this. 30 days of running, no days off, no breaks. The only rules are a 1 mile minimum and distances can’t be repeated on back to back days.
Why am I doing this? Because if I’m not constantly challenged, I’m bored. Because I’m tired of being so bad at being disciplined. Because let’s see how long I can keep this up for.
Day 3: okay, okay, not too shabby so far, except my legs feel like lead. It feels like someone replaced my thighs with heavy rods, stiff and very much against going up the escalator on the metro. Today I only ran a mile during my morning workout and I was sweating about twenty seconds into the whole ordeal. Is the beginning really supposed to feel this bad? I get it that I don’t usually exercise every day but, damn.
Day 4: sore.
Day 5: today, I ran drunk. At 11:15 pm. After a happy hour.
‘Twasn’t pretty, but it got done. (so was my stomach)
Day 8: things that don’t go well together: getting blood drawn and running. Today’s 3 mile run was much more of a power walk than a run, but the thought of passing out on the way home from urgent care just does not seem that appealing. I am also hobbling some because the soreness in my legs just won’t let up.
(Disclaimer: I am trying to be extremely mindful of injuries so I don’t hurt myself here. So far, it’s all been soreness and stiffness, no sharp pains or anything otherwise troublesome).
Day 9: I had been fighting a slight throat itch for a few days when this whole thing started – which worried me because I just recently got my tonsils out in order to minimize the constant sore throat I had. Now, even though I am more tired than I thought I would be at all times, I actually feel much healthier again.
Day 10: pain is a constant state, at this point.
Day 12: seems like we are over the hump, folks! Most of the annoying soreness is gone, replaced slowly by what feels like much stronger muscles.
My legs look and feel thinner. I’m not running as fast as I usually do, but there’s a certain endurance that wasn’t there before. I’m also so much quicker to grab my keys and running shoes, even when I don’t really want to.
Ugh, I work tomorrow and it’s a Saturday.
Day 16: casualties so far: a toenail.
Day 17: my toenails are killing me. They’re all sore. How does that happen? My shoes are extremely comfortable, broken in, and I’ve ran 26 miles in them before with less dire consequences. I wonder how many more toenails will lose this battle?
Day 19: and disciplined I am. I think.
I either go run at 5 am or before or after happy hours, these days. I think about running before I think about my plans for the weekend. I feel stronger and faster. Most runs still aren’t easy, but they always feel great.
Day 22: running in the rain always makes me feel like a superhero.
Day 25: with the end so near, it feels like the soreness is creeping back in. Mentally, maybe, knowing I get to rest my legs for a full day sometime soon?
Am I gonna miss not running every single day?
Day 27: I thought this daily run would finally turn me into a person who can meditate and clear her mind-
Still wrong. My mind is always still trying to keep up with my feet.
Day 29: I THOUGHT TODAY WAS MY LAST DAY.
Day 30: the finish line always does feel sweet, doesn’t it?
Now that I’m on the other side, part of me thinks I could have done more. Run farther. Even if one of my main focuses was not injuring myself so I can get back to training as soon as this is over, I actually got this done and I have to remind myself that was the goal.
There is no mind blowing breakthrough here, or revelation – it’s actually quite simple: I can have discipline. It maybe took making a challenge all of it, telling friends so I could be held accountable, making it “easy” enough to be realistic. But it worked. It worked!
Bottom line: I guess if you really want to change something about yourself, whatever it is, be realistic and set yourself up for success.
Now on to the next adventure 🙂