One day off feels like an itch. Two, a gnaw. Three or more, and every single thought you have about plans for the day is back-ended with "but I should really go running instead."
Well, welcome to the club!
For years, this blog has been about releasing the guilt after I've beaten myself up for one thing or another, but from this point forward, I'm making a vow: I'm going to be compassionate with myself about my little slip-ups. That includes running—and in life. No more excess worry—just tools to get back on track.
So, here's my secret #1. It's really no big deal.
The faster you can admit that to yourself, the faster you'll get back out there. The more guilt you heap on yourself about not running, the longer you'll wait. Side corollary: If you see another runner sprinting on the pavement at dinner hour when you're rushing home for, well, dinner, and all you can think to yourself is, "damn, I should be doing that," instead, just wish him or her a great run, then commend yourself for all the dinner-hour runs you've put in.
Secret #2: Maybe it's time for new shoes.
Runners are a stoic lot. We can pound the pavement for hours. Our trusty technical tees and beloved Asics powergels become our good luck totems, helping us get through the hard parts. I've worn the same bright-pink Nike zip-up long sleeve tee for four years (see my marathon pic) and I'll never throw it out. But that said, eat Ben & Jerry's Phish Food every night and you'll even get bored. That's when it's time for a trip to Lululemon for some new gear to get you pumped.
Secret #3: Maybe it's time for a new sound-track.
I have loved "Now That's What I Call Music" since they put out version #8, headlined by Britney and J.T. Now they're up to 1,007 or something, but it's still great, upbeat, timely music that reminds you what season you're in and that J.T. can still jam. I've also started running to Ray LaMontaigne albums—he has such a sense of rhythm. But even this one reminds me, I need some new music, too. (Any ideas?)
Secret #4: Tell yourself that even a mile is great.
We hate to run less than last week. I hate it to think that last month I was running my usual three miles a day and now I'm feeling winded. But you know what? A mile is better than nothing. In fact, it's a great thing. I think back to the first mile I ever ran, back four years ago, when I couldn't fit into my bridesmaid dress. That mile meant a lot. In fact, it meant everything. It meant that there was hope. Now, I'm going to applaud myself each time I run that first mile, because it means I've taken action—the hard road.
Secret #5: What are you afraid to think about?
I've finally realized that this is the real reason we don't run. We're afraid of being in our own heads for 30 minutes. What scary truth might come up? Have we put on 5, 10 pounds and don't want to admit this to ourselves yet? Are we unhappy in our job and don't feel like hearing the scary answer—that we need to quit? Has our relationship reached an unconquerable impasse and we have no idea what to do?
It's all pretty frightening, that life stuff, sure. But guess what. Running also provides answers if you're willing to listen.