Scratch that – this isn’t about motivation. We’re all motivated to run, be it to drop a couple of pounds, set a new PR, or just spend time with the other runners in our life. The problem we all face is one of execution – actually getting our butts out the door and on the road.
Let’s think of some of the reasons I haven’t run in the last couple of months: Weather wasn’t just right. Left my stuff (Nike+, iPod, Shoes, etc) at the (house, office). Worked through lunch / Slept late. Etcetera. So on. And so forth
Running isn’t the only place where consistency and execution are important. Cory Doctorow, prolific science fiction writer, copyfighter, and part of one of the most popular sites on the net gave the following advice to aspiring writers:
The most important thing, I think, that any writer can do is: when you’re learning your writing habits, eschew all ceremony. Don’t be one of those writers who needs to light a candle, and clean the cat, and wash the dishes, and vacuum the house, and put away all the books, and do 20 minutes of yoga, and go for brisk walk, and contemplate your navel before you can set a word down on the page…. (I)f your job is to be a writer you have to be able to write. Garbagemen never talk about having garbagemen’s block. Doctors never say, “I can’t do surgery today, I’m just not in the mood.” If it’s your job you have to be able to write when it’s time to write.
Running is like that – if you wait for the perfect weather, or have to have a complete and total set of gear absolutely every time you head out the door, you’re not going to make it.
Which isn’t to say that preparation doesn’t have its place.
I’m fortunate in that I’ve got a shower in the basement of my office building, and gyms I can use both near the office and the house. So, one of my excuses – “I don’t want to stink all day” just can’t be called ever. Which is why it isn’t on the list.
For most of the others, you’ll notice that the excuses are “Sins of Omission” rather than “Sins of Commission”- ie, stuff that I don’t do instead of stuff that I do intentionally. Part of the problem, I think, was that I would put off getting ready for the next day’s workout until that morning. So, workout prep would get lost in the morning shuffle of coffee, breakfast, and not being late for a darn 8 AM meeting.
I decided that a both hardware and procedural controls were necessary.
First: New gear!
I picked up a big plastic bin for “Workout Stuff”, separate from my gym bag. In it went my bike pump, spares for both mountain and road bike, an old but still workable pair of running shoes for days I forgot my current pair, two pairs of spare socks, a pair of spare shorts, bike helmet, and an empty water bottle. The box went in my trunk, and stays there. I check it on the weekends.
Next: New workflows!
Here’s what’s been working for me:
1. Get home from work, park the car.
2. Pull workout bag out of the car.
3. Walk in the back door, kiss the family.
4. Stinky clothes and towel in the dirty clothes.
5. New shorts, socks, shirt, and towel in the workout bag.
6. Check soap and shampoo. Replace if necessary.
7. Pull out iPod, put Nike+ receiver inside my running shoe
8. Put iPod on the counter to be synced
9. Put bag by back door, ready to go tomorrow
The whole thing takes only a couple of minutes, and then I don’t have to worry about it at all until the next morning. It’s a routine, like brushing my teeth.
Writing this out makes it sound like running’s a lot of work. Don’t be fooled – it’s not. Running’s cake, and the greatest thing that predates canned beer. And, if you read back through this, there’s not a whole lot of things to do in the workflow – I just made sure to detail EVERYTHING that I might possibly need to do, so I don’t have to smack my head and not run.
If you’re getting started, or if you’re struggling, take a good look at your excuses. If there’s anything that keeps recurring, write out a solution.
Then do it.