A Little Physics

When you’re done here, go read this blog post by James Clear.

It’s Wednesday. According to my pal Hal (you know — Hal Higdon, creator of famous half marathon running plans), it’s either a cross-training day or I should be running 2 miles.

Instead, I’m on the couch, watching the country implode on the nightly news. I’ve just finished eating dinner and I settle in, content to to do nothing.

This isn’t my finest moment.

Back in the middle of August, I invited myself along on a trip to St. Joseph, Michigan with some friends, promising to be their sherpa for their Half Ironman race. It was the first time in awhile that I had been immersed in the hubbub of the race site — dudes and chicks in all shapes and sizes picking up their race packets, bike eye candy resting up against fences while waiting to be checked into the transition area, nervous athletes eyeing the big waves of Lake Michigan before getting in for a practice swim. It was the day before the race, but the excitement was palpable.

The next day — race day — would be gorgeous and inspiring and weirdly emotional for me. Triathlons are well in my past — it’s been at least 7 years since I’ve done even a sprint-distance triathlon — but seeing the heart and grit of those out on the course, well, it brought back memories. Good memories, for the most part (I will choose not to think of my first triathlon almost-drowning experience).

And you know what I realized? I missed it. I missed the camaraderie. I missed the competition. I missed toeing the line and seeing what I had to give.

Luckily, it didn’t take me too long to come to my senses. After all, there’s a reason I gave up triathlons (see:  first triathlon almost-drowning experience).

Then I realized that what I really missed was racing. Not triathlons. But training and getting faster and working hard. And then seeing it all pay off on race day.

You know where this is going, don’t you? It was time for my periodic return to running — a folly that I seem to take up, like clockwork, every Fall. Some people go back to school in August, I decide that I’m going to start running again.

This time I took it a little more seriously, though. I decided that I wanted to run half marathons again — my absolutely favorite race distance — and that I needed to follow a plan. I dusted off my old Hal half marathon plans and started plotting. I knew i needed to take it slowly because this old, overweight body doesn’t take too kindly to me pushing it too hard and so opted to repeat the beginning weeks of the plan until I felt comfortable with the distances and weekly mileage. I took rest days seriously. I cross-trained and did what I was supposed to.

And it was all really good.

I started getting a little bit faster. The walking parts of my runs shortened and the running parts lengthened. I even lost a little weight by listening to my body and not eating if I wasn’t hungry (I know! Seems like a revelation, doesn’t it?).

My long run stretched to 6 miles, my weekday runs to 4 miles. I joined Strava (because that’s where the cool kids hang out). I studied my Garmin data like it held the winning lottery numbers. I even started finding trails that had actual (small but still there) hills to run on the weekends. I felt like a runner again, albeit slower and less impressive than I had been in my previous life.

This lasted a good seven or eight weeks. A solid two months of training.

My downfall was unrelated to running, specifically. In parallel with my half marathon training, I had a streak of walking/running at least a mile a day for over 100 days. 100 days!! Yes, some days it truly was only a mile (though – an intentional mile, not just walking about the office), but a lot of days it was more than that. Even when I started half marathon training, on my off days I’d walk my mile to keep the streak going.

And then I was sick for 2 days. I literally couldn’t move, I felt so bad. I missed a day, then two. My streak was broken. My heart might have been broken, too, but that seems a little dramatic so I’ll deny it if anyone accuses me of it.

Weirdly, that streak — that consistency — seemingly bled through to my running. The mindset was infectious, apparently. Once the streak was over at 105 days, I haven’t been able to revive it. From there it seemed easy to start making excuses for runs, too — my knee was hurting, my Achilles issue flared up. You get the picture.

Which brings me back to my current situation. Butt on couch. TV on. Computer on my lap. And a million excuses for my missed run today. Or, at least, one or two really good-sounding ones.

I think I know what needs to happen.

It’s as easy as a physics problem: an object in motion tends to remain in motion.

So, tomorrow — Day 1. I have a run on the schedule. At the very worst? I’ll walk a mile. Always something.

Because I’ve got to get this object in motion.


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