Today is the 102nd day of 2017. In that time, I’ve run a measly 113.47 miles. I’ve lost on average zero pounds and mostly just shifted my inches from one part of my body to another. Somehow, I’m slower than I was at the beginning of the year and feel like I’ve made no progress at all. I knew going into this year that running 1,000 miles was a lofty goal. I also knew that running my first half-marathon would take work. But I knew I was up for the challenge. And then the excuses started.
I make excuses in all parts of my life – not just when it comes to running. But that doesn’t make them any more valid. There are plenty of times when “I don’t want to” turns into “I can’t because…” That mental shift gives me leeway to skip a run or eat ice cream even when I know perfectly well I’m making a bad decision. Here are the top offenders:
Exhaustion – When I get home from work the last thing in the world I want to do is go for a run. I’m tired and stressed, and I just want to sit down and relax. Even on the weekends, I struggle to find the energy required to tie my running shoes. There will even be times when I get partway through a run and realize I’m too tired to keep going. Some of this exhaustion is physical – a better diet and (sigh) more exercise will help me feel more energized. Some of it is also definitely psychological. Running seems hard which makes me tired just thinking about it.
Weather – This excuse will quickly become more absurd as spring starts to take hold in Seattle. But during the winter months, the sun barely rises, and it is constantly cold and rainy – not ideal running conditions to me. Sometimes running in the rain can be fun, but not every day. Besides, my raincoat is black, and my running route isn’t well lit – so how am I suppose to run safely without getting hit by a car? (Nevermind my headlamp and reflective gear…) There was *one* day when the sidewalks were genuinely too icy to run on safely, but otherwise, the weather is a convenient, not-in-my-hands reason to skip a run.
Injury – This is probably the most valid of all the reasons on my list. Running injuries suck and are a real thing. I personally invalidate this two ways. First, there will be times I choose not to run, so I don’t cause an injury. My calves feel tight? Probably shouldn’t run or I might get shin splints. Instead of running slower or, you know – stretching, I take the easy route and just don’t run. Second, I haven’t done anything proactive about real injuries. My knee has been acting up, and I should have a sports medicine person check it out. They would be able to tell me how to keep running without making things worse. They might even have good suggestions about how to run better. But, why not just take a week off instead?
Pride – I don’t think I’m an overly-proud person. But there are times when I need to conserve the pride I do have in myself. When I run, one of two things happens. Either I get high-fives from random strangers who are celebrating my attempts not to be a fat potato, or I’m passed by beautiful women with condescending hair. Hair so perfect and so sweat-free that it looks like they just walked out of a photoshoot. Seeing how effortless it is for them to run makes me feel like I shouldn’t even bother. This isn’t helped when I look at my running statistics and see my average pace creep further and further above the 13-minute mile mark. What is the point in pursuing this activity if I am never going to improve and I am always going to be the last one to finish? If there was some other activity that I failed at every time I did it, would I still try to do it four times a week? Doubtful. Deciding not to run is self-preservation – it is one way to keep the feeling of failure at bay.
This year has seen some success. In February, I ran my first 10k race and didn’t even come in last. I’ve also joined a running group. Hopefully, I’ll learn a few things, runs some new routes, and meet a few new like-minded people. I have a handful of races coming up – and June 10th is still my big, bad first-ever half marathon. I’ve run out of time for excuses. Now I really need to train so I won’t die.