By Blake Boldon
As Christmas and New Year’s quickly approach, we runners find ourselves in the middle of the most challenging time of year to train. The stress associated with normal work obligations, family commitments and social events is amplified by seasonal deadlines, holiday celebrations and travel. Adding insult to injury, days are nauseatingly short and the characteristically brutal weather conditions can send even the insanely brave among us scampering for the nearest treadmill. The combination of heightened anxiety and hostile weather makes it difficult to stick to our ordinary training. Many days even the defining act of a run on our favorite loop is too much to even consider. The winter is the easiest time of year to justify laziness and disregard the cruel truth that to reach your running goals, you have to run. Don’t wait for a New Year’s resolution to make a positive change. Take back your run today.
Sure, it’s easier said than done but it’s all a matter of perspective. Send your mind back in time to when you were a child and mom or dad forced you to help with yard work or an equally miserable task. Your immediate reaction was probably, “Mom, do I HAVE to?!?” or maybe “Dad, are you serious???” I’m sure the response was nearly as universally uniform from that loving parent – “Yes, I’m serious. You HAVE to. Now go out and get started.” Those long days of raking leaves can surely be likened to time spent on a chain gang with kids counting the minutes until they are paroled to go join neighborhood friends. That was certainly my experience as a kid and recent events in my life have taught me a very valuable lesson. This summer I purchased my first home and of course I have spent more than one full day clearing the yard of leaves and debris, trimming hedges, and taking care of flower beds. One day in particular I finished covered in dirt, with blistered hands, and already experiencing a suspicious itch from one of the villainous vines which had crept into the yard. While picking up the last of the tools at dusk and scanning the vastly improved property, I had a very poignant moment. When reviewing the fruits of my labor I realized that I had just finished one of my most fulfilling days in a very long time.
While reflecting on the dissimilarity between these two experiences I have learned a lot about the meaning of hard work. The difference to me is ownership. When the yard became my yard, it was a commitment to improving my property that put blisters on my hands. When it was a job assigned by mom and dad, it was little more than an obligation before I was free to do something of my choosing. As you battle with the challenges of running in the winter, ask yourself this question – Is my running a commitment or an obligation? If you feel that you “have to” run, it will be much more difficult to turn down a glass of holiday cheer in favor of a training session. When you own your running and “choose to” run, you will look forward to the effort and the other sacrifices have greater meaning.
Now we reach the point where the rubber meets the road. To own your running, you must first answer the simple and foundational question, “Why do I run?” For some it is competition, for many it is participation in races and for others it is wellness. With a consequential and compelling answer to our fundamental question, you will be able to fully comprehend your commitment to your training. There are thousands of reasons to run but the time spent defining your personal motivation puts you on the path to commitment and removes the obligation from training. Run for fun. Run for your health. Run to inspire others. It all starts when you take back your run.