Thursday, February 23, 2012
When I started exercising and eating well, I had one goal - lose weight. This has been a good motivator for me for 3 years, but it's kind of a never-ending type of goal. I will eventually get to my goal weight, but even then there is maintenance. I've made healthy changes to my lifestyle that I know will last for the rest of my life, but some days the "lose weight" goal just isn't enough.
I always looked at exercise as something I had to do. Burn calories, work my muscles, get my endorphin fix - and I usually enjoy it. By now, I am a complete exercise junkie and can't imagine my life without it. But, when you have no specific physical goals, choosing an exercise is really open. What do I feel like doing? How long do I feel like doing it? It leaves room for slack days and lighter workouts, which is fine - in moderation.
Yesterday, I went for a short run (4 miles). It was a very pleasant day for February, but it was windy, I was tired, the route I chose started out with a mile long climb up a huge hill. There were a lot of reasons (excuses) for me to just stay home. I needed more time to study, it was my only time to myself pretty much al week, the house is a mess, etc.
I went for a run. Not because I really wanted to, but because I am training for a goal. When a marathon is looming in the not-so-distant future, every workout is planned in advance. Everything I do must serve some purpose in getting me prepared for this massive task. The food I eat becomes fuel for these workouts and nothing more. Losing weight right now would be nice - and make me slightly faster - but it's not the focus. Everything is about the marathon.
I struggled with that short run. I did not want to be out there, and it took a while for my mind to calm down and enjoy it. The first moment I really enjoyed was reaching the top of the huge hill at mile 1 and seeing the gorgeous view. You can see the whole town, including the river and a large farm with the mountains in the background, and it was beautiful.
Even after that I struggled. After building a little distance, I have found that it takes me longer to warm up and get into that "I could go forever" place. It takes about 3 miles, so until then every step was a question - "Why am I doing this?"
The answer - to run a marathon.
Anyone who runs knows you have good days and bad days, and the distance isn't the only factor. I ran 10 miles on Saturday, pushed my speed on the hills, and got back 5 minutes before my goal. And, I felt great the whole time. I was focused. I kept pushing, and I enjoyed it.
Yesterday's run should have been easy. A quick, little jaunt out in the sunshine. But, it was one of the worst I've had in awhile. Maybe it was stress, not enough sleep, water, food - who knows? The point is that I'll do it even when it's not ideal because I have a goal.
And, when I finish that marathon, it will have been totally worth it.