That Motivation Problem

Last week, I was kind of a rockstar. I ran 22 miles including a 9-miler and 6-miler, did two OTF-style sweaty sweat seshes and went on my longest kayak adventure yet. It’s pretty easy to pull off when you’re feeling great, seeing improvements, oh and have a shit ton of spare time.

This week also started off great. I ran five fast treadmill miles. Who knew Like a Prayer and Turn Back Time could be such great running songs? Then I hopped on the elliptical because reading on it is one of my new favorite pastimes and followed it up the next day with another great OTF workout, a power day this time = lots of sprints!

Then, those fast days, plus probably the jump lunges, caught up to me and I was super sore. AND I saw an article about the importance of rest days and realized I’d been going strong for eight days, so I figured a rest day was probably in order.

My competitive, stubborn spirit usually has me striving for seven days a week and “rest” days are more often “too busy to fit it in” days. But, rest and recovery is important for your body. Not taking rest days can actually inhibit your progress.

If you obsess much, active rest is fine – a long walk with your Rigo perhaps or a good stretch session, a bike ride to dinner.

I obsess much, but I try to shake myself out of that by taking a real rest day and being okay with it. This week, my rest day turned into a lazy, treat yoself day, then a lazy, treat yoself two days. How did I go from 60 to 0 so fast?

I got my butt in gear today with another good elliptical reading session (currently reading: Love With a Chance of Drowning) and everything else was better. My brain clears. My day feels complete. My eating stays on track. I’m more productive. I’m calm. ALL that is so important all the time, and especially so now when I need structure.

Despite knowing that, I still have those days when I have that motivation problem.

Anyone else with me? Any tips to bust through that?

Having a training plan helps me, but then again, it’s flexible and I know it and I can go from hardass to softy real fast.

I like the rule about never going three days without a workout. I think that’s what got me moving today.

Also, those cliche Pinterest phrases: no one ever regrets a workout and an hour-long workout is only 4% of your day.

Lately, the lure of reading is a way to get me moving since I could sit on my butt and do it, or jump on the elliptical and do it just the same.

I also sometimes tell myself I’m just going to start and after 5 or 10 minutes if I’m still not feeling it, I can throw in the towel, which after 5 or 10 minutes I don’t feel the need to do anymore. I gave myself that out today, but ended up lasting almost 90 minutes.

Sometimes, it’s just taking a shower! After a workout I’ll shower and can start my day instead of procrastinating for no good reason. Just having a schedule usually keeps me on track, so I’m hoping when I do have a schedule again I can keep up with my new level of rockstarness (past two days excluded of course).

Can’t Argue With That

My training has been a little off lately (feeling like a broken record with that one!)…I don’t have much to actually train for and life has gotten in the way of gym time.

But, after a great weekend trip to Sedona, I decided it was time to get back on track and my plan last week was to make like a girl scout and be prepared – prepared for wherever, whenever, however I could work out. My bag with yoga clothes that could double as running clothes and running shoes and everything I’d need to swim has gone with me everywhere to avoid continuing to give into getting home from work and never wanting to leave again.

Was I planning a yoga class, but left work too late? Cool, I can run. Is it too hot in the afternoon to run (or as was the case earlier this week, too windy, allergy-y and nasty outside)? Cool, I can swim.

My training plan goes with me everywhere too, but it’s more of a guideline and I’m more concerned now with what I want to do and what I can do because SOMETHING is better than nothing. It worked four out of five days last week!

Goals for the next couple weeks:

RUN – I’d like to do decently at Pat’s Run so I have to keep it up and while I’m disappointed I haven’t run a LOT this year, I’m happy I have at least some miles on every week.

Use the rest of my True Hot Yoga Groupon – I definitely already got my money’s worth and I silently scream in those classes, but it’s a decent workout and I’m stubborn so darn it I’m gonna finish it.

The Heart of a Runner

As much as my own relationship with running has its ups and downs, my heart swells a bit every time I see a runner on the road.  I see a kindred spirit and feel a connection.  I remember why running and I have such high highs.

If I’m driving, I see the runner for all of 10 seconds maybe.  I don’t know if she runs every day or if this is his first post-injury run in months, maybe it’s the first time he’s felt confident enough to run outside, maybe she’s doing her last long run before her first marathon.

What they do before and after running, who they are in their everyday life is anyone’s guess, but for the time they give to themselves out on the road, they all share a few things in common:

dedication | resolution | determination | guts | persistence | heart

Especially if it’s a cold winter morning, or a hot summer afternoon (I don’t know how or why those people do it), especially if it’s raining; if I’ve skipped my run or if I’m looking forward to a good one later, I love the heart of a runner.

Get Right

I’m working my way through the latest season of Mad Men on DVD and in the episode I watched last night, it was revealed through flashbacks how Don actually got his start at Sterling Cooper, which made me laugh and I just love a smart show that makes me laugh out loud.  

Another moment that got me in the same episode was when a determined young man seeking a position with the agency (which was the catalyst for the flashbacks) says to Don, “You know what they say, ‘aspiration is just as good as perspiration.'”  To which Don replies, “That’s not how it goes.”

I’m overwhelmed with excitement at the prospect of races and being awesome.  My book list is full of inspiration – The Long Run, Second WindRun Like a Girl – and I’m going to read them all and become even more excited, but researching races and patio sitting + wine + reading about other people running does not an athlete make.

Now, I’ve also been perspiring this week as I’ve been getting back to running, but with my still-at-times twingey knee, a cancelled race that took my training schedule and dumped it on its head and, oh yeah, this thing called lazy, it’s been a minimal perspiration. 

On Monday I decided that if I can just get myself out of bed every morning, lace up and run to a certain stop sign that is one-and-a-half miles from my house, turn around and come back, I would call it good for the day.  And of course, I’d still do a long run on the weekend. 

However, my awesome 10th grade math skills helped me figure out that that ain’t not going to get me to my 1000 mile goal for 2011. 

Oh yeah, did I mention I want to run I’m going to run one THOUSAND miles in 2011?

I’m not so much on track, but I’m not so far off either.

Anyway, it’s not just my stubbornness that had me thinking three junk miles a day plus a tortured long run every week wasn’t going to cut the cheese.

Don:  “Uh, Meg?  That’s not how it goes.”

Go screw a waitress and never call her again, Don, I’m making a point here.

It hit me when I heard another quote this week that spoke to me.

Are you making progress or excuses?

It’s really got to be one or the other.  So last night I pulled a two-a-day and started training toward my goal of running four consecutive miles at an eight-minute pace.  This morning, I added a hill, added a new loop and instead of three just-get-it-done miles, I ran five-and-a-half fun, beautiful and enjoyable miles just because it was Friday and I love Friday and I love running (even when I hate it).

I definitely think that exercise is exercise and it’s all good even if you’re not feeling it, but every now and then you have to remind yourself that if it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well.

Running > Sleep

You know what the nicest thing someone can say to you is?

“Wow, you look tired.”

Yep, got that one the other day at work. In my defense,  I go to work at 6:45 in the morning.  I had just walked in and I was still sleepy. 

And in my boss’s defense, men need constant refresher courses in how to talk to women I usually have been up for two hours and worked out so I’m wide awake by the time I get to work and let’s be honest, I usually avoid coworkers for the first hour anyway.

Pre-work workouts have all but become extinct around these parts.  I’m going to bed plenty early (hello, falling asleep after getting in bed to catch up on Glee on Hulu at 8pm), so maybe it’s restless sleep due to a tight muscle/pinched nerve in my neck or allergies or a combination, maybe it’s the fact that my new phone has two alarms, so if I turn off the run alarm, I’ll still be woken up by my work alarm. 

But I’m going to go with:  I can’t get out of bed to work out before work lately because I’ve gotten out of the habit.  Because I’m thinking more about sleep when that first alarm goes off instead of “you are going to rock this run.” 

My morning get-outta-bed-to-workout mantra used to be, “you’ll regret it if you don’t, but you won’t regret it if you do,” which is still quite true, but after years of AM workouts, I also know that THIS is true:  “you’ll feel better after the run than you would after more sleep.”

So this morning.  I snoozed for a bit, but I got up and went running.  An ugly run, for sure, but a run nonetheless.

While enjoying the sights and sounds of a Scottsdale springtime dawn, I contemplated how sometimes it feels like my self-worth is tied to my motivation to work out, which waxes and wanes but that’s okay, because while getting up and working out makes me feel better, it’s simply those lovely endorphins, not an actual comment on my always-awesomesauce self.

The run loosened up my neck and I’m feeling less puffy and stuffy from allergies today and I finally went into work bright-eyed and bushy-tailed again.

On Earning Your Ass

My long run on Saturday – even though I was condemned to the treadmill – was FAAAN-tastic.  I always feel like a total bad ass when I have to STOP and QUICK START again because I’m running over the 60 minute limit.  Perhaps I should just feel slow?

8 miles, 1:22:45, for the record.  I even knocked out mile six at my upcoming race pace (9:00). 

I was kept entertained by ABC Family and the last half-hour or so of My Girl (the absolutely WRONG time to come into that movie, I was tearing up by the half-mile mark) and part of Can’t Buy Me Love.  I have a soft spot in my heart for that movie because, well, A. it’s cheesy 80s high school romcom at its finest and B. it was filmed in Tucson and very few producers or writers deem Arizona a setting cool enough for a movie or a book.

I also watched a lot of commercials, which I used to throw in some intervals to keep me from getting too bored.

A completely over-aired commercial for Reebok also gave me something to think about.  Apparently, to get a sexy booty and toned legs, I could do this:

You know, dance around my house in panties and tennis shoes.  Or, I realized, I could keep up with what I was doing. 

Even though I was a sweaty mess at that point, even though I’ve been struggling this week, no question. I’ll take the hard work, dedication, sweat and commitment any day.*

*And this is, of course, ignoring the fact that there IS no easy way out or quick fix.