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Change, Willpower, and Happiness

Friday I watched the documentary Happy. (Check it out on Netflix if you have the chance.) I learned that other than social interactions and being in nature, one of the things that makes humans happy is change. Doing things differently. Then for some reason, this quote about insanity popped in my head, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” And then I related it to running…

For so long I have planned on the rest of November and December being my months off from running, yoga, correcting body alignment issues, sleeping in past 6:00am on Saturday mornings, and taking a mental break from the mileage. Having done two marathons just 5 weeks apart, I figured my body could use the rest. Well the Las Vegas marathon was November 17th and since then, I have taken at most 5 days off from running. Why? Because it literally takes willpower and mental strength to not run. It requires more effort to do a yoga class instead of putting on my running shoes as soon as I get home. Running is a habit and to do anything else requires my brain to go off autopilot.

Thankfully, however, I just finished a book on willpower, which I followed up with the film Happy.  Friday night I reevaluated my weekend workout plans and Saturday morning I was at a hot yoga class with my best friend of 25 years. Change is good.

January I will start my training for the Boston marathon. I have been down this road many times. Excited to start my training, workouts planned, scheduled off days, planned yoga classes, time set aside for body maintenance. It all sounds great in my head but the hard part is actually doing it. And because it’s hard for me to run easy or take a day off, I’m never able to reach my full potential as a runner. I end up injured, mentally drained, and arrive at the start line 50% prepared. It’s a vicious cycle that I’ve been through over and over again. In other words, it’s insanity. 

I think I’ve finally realized that I am going to have to exert some willpower in order to make a change. It’s crazy to think I will reach my running goals if I keep doing what I’ve always done. It doesn’t work that way. Habits are hard to break.

For the month of December, I will not worry about running. Every day I will make a conscious effort to step out of my running “comfort zone,” and do something else. Maybe a pilates class, another hot yoga class, some hiking at a nearby park, a juice cleanse, or even just a few days of doing nothing. And perhaps once I realize that I can break the habit loop, it will not be that difficult to actually follow my marathon training plans. Perhaps I will actually run slow on easy days or even start practicing yoga at home. Any maybe, just maybe, the end result of my marathon training will be success and not injury.

Here is to a month of change, and happiness.

Happy Trails and Happy Running,


One Comment Post a comment
  1. I think it’s harder to change than to motivate yourself to do the same-old, same-old. Although we may fall into ruts and sometimes question why we run (or at least I do 😉 — we just keep going because it is habit. I worry that I will get slower, or that it will be hard to start up again. But given how mental running is there must be change. You cannot stay fresh repeating the same thing. Change is that feeling you get when you run a different route and realize how much fire you actually do have in your legs!

    December 3, 2013

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