It’s tricky but ask yourself, “Do you lose the battle in the mind before you even begin?”. This is the most fundamental question that I asked myself much before I could be a marathon runner.
It helped me to craft my running plans. We generally commit ourselves to a wonderful cause to do something about it. But, unfortunately, we keep failing again and again. As a matter of fact, I have failed to keep my commitment several times. Do you guess why?
Let’s get more specific and talk in terms of our fitness journey. We tend to lose our fitness battle because we fail to see the results. Our mind is groomed that way since childhood. We have been trained in the school of “Chase the results.”
This is because we tend to believe that we are living in a fast-paced world and things should happen at that pace. The results should appear quick and fast. If they don’t, it is a waste of time and money.
No matter how modern we get but this is a faulty way to look at our health and fitness. Our body is an ancient relic and therefore, it differs from all the modern machines of the day. So, rather than being result-oriented, I discovered that I needed to be process-oriented to truly master my body and the mind.
When you are result-oriented, you want every tiny action to produce a result. And you expect the result should be considerable and noticeable.
Imagine, you are new to your fitness regimen, you still don’t know how the mind and the body are going to respond to the exercises. You are not even sure if the activity that you have chosen is a perfect fit for your body. In such a case, the primary task should be to take stock of our strengths and weaknesses first. And then work on them to the best of our advantages.
I have many runners around me who have got into the act of running primarily to lose weight. But, they have seriously injured themselves in the process. They wanted to attain quick results. I can see that are still struggling to run consistently. So they think that good running is never going to happen for them.
With experience, I learned that we must learn the basics first. Remember, how long it took us to learn the alphabets in kindergarten so as to be able to able to read and write well later in life. So is the process of learning the basics of a good exercise regimen – Mastering our Basics first.
And this is what I did. I crafted a well laid out process for myself and I worked towards refining it and mastering it. Not the results, but the process.
And this is what I did.
Keeping a Diary.
- Initially, I used to read a lot of stuff on the internet. But I soon came to the conclusion that I am confusing myself a lot by reading. It was not doing me any good. I rather decided to conduct my own experiments and make my own notes out of those experiments.
- To achieve this goal, I started to maintain a small diary in which I would often note:
– how I ran
– how much I ran
–how many km I ran
– Anything that I discovered new in my running: strengths or weaknesses
Thus I distanced my self from scoring PB s or PR s. I became fully focused on my running style and how I feel. What was the real running on the ground I was doing ? and how I was moving? I did not even bother to look at my watch for the distance or time. My notes became the base for my improvement.
If I told myself that I would hit the tracks first thing in the morning, I did this diligently. I made it my goal to do some running every day – be it a km or a good 5 km. The focus was not on the number but showing up!
The first thing that I worked upon was my regularity. We often overestimate what we can achieve in a day and often underestimate what we can in a year. So, I resolved to be regular despite all the limitations. Whether I came late from work or had something else that took away my normal workout time, I showed up. I would go running at 4:30 a.m. if I was supposed to be traveling by 5 a.m.
Sometimes, we will fall sick. I fell sick too. On those days even, I would drag myself out and do some walking. I did not let any of my designated days to reflect zero effort. The commitment was just to show up and mark my attendance on the ground.
Simply by running a kilometer a day, I could run 365 km annually. This was sheer regularity and there was no talent required.
So, I learned that putting some more incremental efforts, I would do better. And when you start to see your path clearly, you are more willing than ever to continue with your process of struggle. In fact, the struggle becomes hope. You no longer want to see the result simply. Your daily grind becomes your goal. And your dreams becomes a lot more convincing.
Creating a workable plan
To ensure, I could run regularly even for a km on those crucial days, I started to chalk out my plans. These plans were crafted after months of on-ground experience of trials and errors. You see there is no short cut or substitute for the on-ground experience. And the reason is not far to seek. Our body is not a modern machine and each of us is gifted differently. We need to find our own gifts.
Based on the experience, I put in place:
-My Diet plan
–My Sleep time
-My Morning Run Schedule
These 3 are very important. But, I did not start with them from day 1. I allowed a lot of flexibility to myself. So, even if I would wake up at 8 a.m., I would still go out, hit the ground, and run. On Sundays, weekends, or the holidays, I went running at noon because I used to get up pretty late. And I did not shy till I mastered them all.
Let’s talk about diet, I discovered one principle: Follow an inverted triangle style of eating. Eat the heaviest meal in the morning and the lightest meal in the evening. Simple! I am not asking you to eat this or that. All I am seeking is discipline to my eating meals.
I did not change what I ate immediately. Most of us land in trouble when we read or watch something to eat well and immediately bring in those hard measures difficult to sustain. Let me tell you, it took me a very sincere effort to bring it into a daily ritual. But, I won over it for the love of running that was starting to turn into a passion than a mere workout for health.
Next came my sleep time. I used to be a lot on Social media scrolling up and down till the wee hours of the morning. Or watching television till late hours. It was doing no good for me. It was just an addiction.
After a light evening meal, I went for a walk and came back, and within minutes, I would fall asleep. I completely gave up on Social media post-dinner. And it started to bring desirable changes in my circadian rhythms. It became more synchronized. The body and the mind started to come together and started to work together to fulfill a dream: Run a Marathon.
By now, you must have felt that learning to run is not just about having the ocean of knowledge inside the head, it’s about taking action and accepting being imperfect or ordinary. Above all, it’s a lot more about what you do off the tracks than on the tracks.
So, the takeaway for you today is: Just do one thing, forget your goals for the time being and enjoy running or doing any physical activity that you love.