So…as I wrote about last week, I recently completed a year-long running streak. (And felt like a certain fictional character in the process). I’ve been thinking about this accomplishment of mine a fair bit these past couple of weeks; specifically about the lessons that I learned during the process.
So what did my year long run streak actually teach me? I have thought long and hard about this question and have come up with three very important points. I have definitely learned other lessons as well, more personal ones, but these are the main three that I think a lot of people (runners or not) can relate to.
1. There are very few legitimate excuses for not getting exercise.
For years I struggled with getting myself out there to run. I grabbed onto any excuse I could find — it was too hot, too cold, too rainy, too snowy. I was too tired, too busy, too sore, too stressed out. Here’s the thing I’ve learned about excuses. If you go looking, you can always one. The truth is, though, there aren’t very many real, legitimate reasons for not getting exercise. Period.
Now, I’m not saying that everyone needs to go on a year-long running streak, not at all. But whatever your chosen activity is, and whatever your weekly goals are, you have very few excuses for not meeting them. The simple fact is, if something is important enough to you, then you need to make it a priority in your life, and you need to make it happen. Period.
Excuses are lame. Don’t be lame.
2. Running is much more a mental game than a physical one.
Sure, there’s a certain amount of physical ability required to run (or do any kind of exercise), but the truth is that it is someone’s mental fitness that determines how successful their exercise goals will be. Not only do you need to work on training your body, it’s also important to work on training your mind. It takes a special kind of focus to be able to lose yourself mentally so that you’re not thinking about every single step on a 5 or 10 km (or longer) run. If you can’t do that, then running is going to truly suck. And if it sucks, then you’re not going to keep doing it.
3. Goals are essential.
My goals changed over the course of the year. At first it was just to run as many days in a row as possible. And then, as certain milestones began approaching, I would promise myself to meet them and see how I felt after that. As I was getting up do day 80-something, I made a deal with myself to hit at least day 100. Then as I was around to day 140-ish, I knew I wouldn’t stop until I hit 150. I’m just not the kind of person to willingly quit a streak on day 167. Or 172. I just can’t do that. And then, of course, as day 365 began getting closer and closer, I knew I wanted that to be my next goal.
And now that I’ve passed day 365? I’m not so sure. We’ll see how I feel once day 400 hits. 😉 I’m hopeful that maybe there are more lessons to be gleaned from all of this.