Thursday, September 12, 2013

How to Not be an Excuse Machine

Last night, I wasn't sure what kind of run I was going to do when I started.  I had a couple of ideas and figured I'd go on feel.  The two options I came up with were an 8-10 miles normal run around 8 minute pace or a shorter, slightly faster-than-normal paced run.  I started off towards the lake and took about a half mile to really get going, but by the time I got to the lake, I felt good.

The route I take to get to the lakefront path (which is basically just a direct route there from my apartment) is exactly a mile.  So once I got onto the path, I picked up the pace and wanted to hit 7:40/mile.  I decided I'd aim to do this for 4 miles, but I felt surprisingly good, so went for 5 and my splits were actually a bit faster than my goal pace of 7:40!  Then I ran the mile back home (in the dark...I'm turning into a night runner, it's weird) super relaxed and it felt wonderful.

8:11, 7:40, 7:29, 7:29,  7:32, 7:32, 8:15

I only have a few solid weeks of training left before tapering, but I'm going to try to do more of my runs at this pace (kind of in-between a tempo pace and a relaxed pace) to get used to the pace I'd like to run the marathon at.

(I love finding quotes on Pinterest - this one is on my running quotes board!)

Sometimes I am a straight-up excuse machine.  Last night I decided not to be one - even though this is a relatively small-scale example.  Once I cross over Lake Shore Drive to get back to my apartment, there are 2 paths I can take through the park - one goes around the softball fields and one cuts straight through the fields and therefore is a bit shorter.  So over the past couple weeks, tired Colleen on her way home from an evening run takes the path that is maybe .1 - .2 miles shorter.  I use the excuse that by this time it's dark out and this path is better lit with the lights from the soccer and softball fields and I don't want to get attacked in the dark in a park.  But really I think I probably just want to get home and done with the run ASAP.  In all actuality, the difference is only about a minute I bet, but I can gladly say I got in that extra minute last night.  Woohoo!

I came up with some tricks that I am going to try to use to not be such an excuse machine and wanted to share them to hopefully help others too:
  • Remind yourself why you are training.  Think of your end goal.  Yesterday, I had to just think of the Chicago Marathon and my goals for it.  Even though the distance between those two paths in the park is minimal, taking the longer route like I should instead of cutting it short will help me more in the long run!
  • Ask yourself if the excuse is really plausible.  My excuse was that I should take the shorter path because the longer path is not as well lit and I could be attacked since it's dark out.  While this is obviously possible and I should be careful, I probably have just watched one too many episodes of SVU.  People get attacked in broad daylight too, so should I always be afraid to go outside?
  • Don't give yourself time to make an excuse.  Action precedes motivation.  As Nike says, JUST DO IT.  Motivation will follow.  Forget the excuse and just do what you need to do before you can over-think it anymore.
  • Ask yourself who the excuse is benefiting.  YOU are most important.  One time I went for a run and was going to cut it about 2 miles short because I had to go to a speaker at 7pm (good excuse to do a shorter run).  I decided my options were (a) finish the 8 miles I wanted to run and show up to the presentation without showering,  (b) run 6 miles, get home and shower, and get to the presentation on time, or (c) run all 8 miles, get home and shower, and show up about 10 minutes late.  I had a breakthrough in my thinking.  Who is benefiting if I cut my run short to get to the presentation at exactly 7pm?  Not me.  All I would miss in the first 10 minutes is introductions and the like.  The speaker?  Sure I might get a few looks from people and from the speaker if I walk in a little late, but they'll forget about it after 2 minutes as long as I don't cause a huge scene.  The only person whose life is ultimately affected is my own.  Being 10 minutes late to a presentation would have no effect on those peoples' lives, but it would affect my own run.  Sometimes you just need to think of yourself first, which is hard for some people.

And I decided to pick a song of the day - People Like Us by Kelly Clarkson

Kelly Clarkson is probably one of my favorite non-country singers (even though I think she is somewhat trying to be country?).  I had a minor freak-out during my run last night about 3 miles into it and then this song came on and I guess it kind of calmed me down.  In the past, if I had a "freak-out" in the middle of the run, I would just stop and walk and call it a day.  Today I was able to run through it and re-frame my thoughts (mostly some negative thinking on the upcoming marathon and general over-thinking about things) and finish my run as planned.

In other pop culture "news," I watched The Hunger Games last night on Netflix.  The 2nd movie comes out at Thanksgiving, so I think I'll have to read all of the books again in the next couple months.

I saw the professional photos from the Chicago Half Marathon this past weekend and obviously have a few things to comment on my own running form/style, so get pumped for that tomorrow!

Do you make up excuses or are you able to talk yourself out of taking the easy way out?

What is your song of the day?

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