I must confess that to me fitness, exercise, running, and all other related topics have always been more of a mental than a physical issue. Trying to psyche myself up to maintain a steady weekly cardio routine, especially during the winter months, is the most difficult challenge I have ever faced (well, one of them). And, of course, that goes well beyond cardio, or even exercise in general, but translates into a challenge of attempting to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
I was planning to ponder all of the above during my outing early this morning. I have actually been a ”good sport”, getting out at 5 AM three times this week so far, and if I manage an early rise on Sunday (I am talking about a wake-up), that will account for 4 this week. And you always need something to think about, something to ponder while you go running this early in the morning; otherwise, the distance and the physical strain may prove too much for anyone, even a nut such as myself. So, typically, after I find my rhythm 5-10 minutes into it, with a good music pounding against my brain, I let my thoughts travel to yet another dimension, to a place far, far away from the cold, nail-biting reality. That way, I get most of my thinking done early in the day, and am able to cover nice distances without realizing it.
This morning, as I was making my turn at one of the traffic lights on my route (I follow all applicable traffic laws!), my thoughts were rudely interrupted by a little white, broken-down Chevy Malibu that suddenly came to a screeching halt next to me. To be honest with you, I never found out what the driver wanted, perhaps he wanted to chat or simply needed directions somewhere, but he was talking quite lively and loudly enough that I heard some distinctive noises even above and over my headphones….
I will never know what he wanted, because I did not stop and, in all fairness, I never do stop for such occasions, as I am just unable to pick up my breathing rhythm afterwards. For the same reason, I have never run with a training partner, as they normally like to chat along the way, and I have never been able to accomplish both, running and talking, simultaneously. Some people can, but not this runner.
In any event, as I continued on my path, the car kept following next to me, with my new friend still attempting to communicate with me, although in vain. I will tell you, I am normally the calmest, most relaxed and least anxious character you will ever meet; I care about and react to very few things in life. However, for some odd reason, this particular nutcase got me upset. And, as much as I would have liked to express my true feelings directly to him, I still did not want to interrupt my run and disrupt my breathing balance.
And so I just picked up speed. At that time, quite coincidentally, a good ‘Metallica’ tune came up on my iPod, giving an additional boost to my already ignited testosterone bonfire! My breathing remained the same, but my pace became different, as I was planting my feet further each time, picking up speed. During my normal run, I find a comfortable pace and keep it up the entire time, not rushing along, just relaxing and getting the miles under my belt. But not this time.
I suddenly realized that even though I was now going faster than usual, my breathing was still under control and I could actually keep this pace up for a good while! After a few minutes, I discovered that my newly-made friend in a Chevy had disappeared, however, I almost felt like thanking him, since he was the one responsible for pushing me out of my “comfort zone”, providing motivation for me to push my body into the unknown. Into a new challenge.
Nothing can ever be accomplished within a comfort of a regular routine. When we get comfortable and soft, when things are easy and predictable, no serious goal, such as weight loss, will ever be achieved. You have to change up, surprise your body and try on new things, but most importantly, you have to push yourself, your body, into the new, unknown territories, constantly looking for new motivation and new goals to reach.
If you are walking a two-mile regular distance a few times a week, try a 2 1/2 mile stretch for a change, or try to cover those same two miles just a little faster. I suppose you may call this somewhat of a “Warrior’s Attitude”, letting go of the comfortable and embracing the difficult, despite the physical hardship that may be associated with that. Pain and discomfort do not exist, only the ultimate goal ahead.