Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Creating Habits to End Laziness - Once and for all

This has been a crazy couple of months.  Running has almost completely fallen off the grid for me with my somewhat failed attempt to rehabilitate a cranky shin solely based on Internet searches and free advice (not the recommended way to go when dealing with an injury, by the way.)  While I have started getting back into running again slowly the past week and a half, a marathon - bought and paid for - still looms on the horizon, just over three months away.  With a crumbled base and little time spent actually running, I don't know whether participation in this particular event is feasible or foolhardy.  I'll think about that more later this week.

In the meantime, I can't help thinking that this fiasco that has been my running life the past six weeks hasn't been all bad.  In fact, there has been some real good that has come out of it, namely more exercise and a higher fitness level.

For years, since I started running back in 2002, I have struggled with two things: finding a way to exercise "most days of the week" and extending my exercise sessions to longer than 30 minutes at a time.  Now, you might think that with all the events I have participated in, I would have those knocked.  But you'd be surprised.  I rarely have done anything in the way of cross-training.  A bike ride here or there when the weather was good, maybe a hill walk on the treadmill once in a while.  For the most part, however, my weeks have consisted of three or four runs - and nothing else.  Additionally, until this past fall, all of my runs - except for my long runs have topped out at about 30 minutes.  Even this past fall, when I tried to start stretching out my mid-week runs, they never got much longer than 40-45 minutes.

Why haven't I been able to achieve either of these goals?  Well, I think the short answer would be laziness.
You can love running and be lazy, too. Punch was a
great example of how to achieve this.
At heart, I am a pretty lazy person.  Seriously.  Give me the choice of waiting a little longer to park close to a store entrance or taking a spot immediately and walking a little further, and I'll pick the former every time.  Get up and get a drink myself or have my kids do it?  You got it.  Kid duty.  Sit and read or go work out?  Well, unless it's running, I would rather poke my nose into my latest library book.  That's why I am always amazed at friends who do so much.  Pilates classes, Zumba classes, yoga, spin, swimming, Arc Trainer.  You name it, there is someone I know who does it - along with running.  Sometimes I feel like Captain Kirk surrounded by the hyper-accelerated Scalosians in the Star Trek episode "Wink of an Eye."  (Okay, I like Star Trek, but I am not that much of a nerd.  I had to look up this reference.)  I'm lazy.  There, I have said it.  I think that's why I like running so much.  You just can't be lazy and run.  The very act of running - to get up enough speed to even call it running - takes you out of the lazy zone.

Even in my younger, crazier days I only
ever exercised seriously three times a week.
So, enter in crazy weeks of no real running.  Why has this been positive?  Because I have cross-trained - with a vengeance.  In the - perhaps misguided (it remains to be seen) - hopes of running this May marathon, I have gotten down to serious cross-training business.  I have embraced the elliptical and the rower, and between the two I am up to six days a week of cardio.  Add in my dusted-off strength routine and I am doing something every day of the week.  And, I've been doing this for almost four solid weeks now, so it really is feeling like a habit.  Additionally, since I feel so safe doing the cross-training, as I have added running, I haven't necessarily cut back too much on the cross-training, so I am up to almost an hour of exercise at a shot on my "running" days.

So maybe not running for a while hasn't been all bad.  If I can keep this up once my running is able to really pick up and resume, then having had this time off may be just what I needed to help me achieve two long-time goals I have had and perhaps - dare I say it - finally make me a better runner.

Any committed cross-trainers out there?  What do you do?

If you are wondering what is happening with my shin, suffice it to say that I have effectively buried my head in the sand where that issue is concerned.  It's not worse.  It's not better.  I plan on doing something about it.  I just haven't gotten around to it yet.  Soon.  

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