When my alarm buzzed me awake at 6:00am so I could go for a run as I had promised myself, I sought out a million excuses to stay right where I was between the sheets. My wife’s heavy breathing indicated to me that she hadn’t even heard my alarm and her comfort and warmth was much more inviting than what I had planned.
Grudgingly and already regretting my decision, I crawled out of bed and hunted for suitable clothes to wear as I tortured myself.
I’ve mentioned before, that I hate running. I always have. While I have a hard time arguing with the healthy effects of it, the raw torment that everyone seems to be going through as the are actually doing it doesn’t seem worth it sometimes.
Still. I was up and dressed, let’s go.
My reasons for willingly subjecting myself to this agony are twofold. First, my PT scores from the academy are no longer valid, since they were taken over a year ago, so if I’m going to be picked up by anyone, I’ll need to take the test again, and we need some preparation for that.
Second, I’ve packed on about ten pounds that need to go away. My duty belt is already one notch (fine, two) longer than it was when I started wearing it a year ago, and my uniform pants are a tad snugger (that’s a word right?) as well.
Essentially, my livelihood depends on my not being a sedentary slob.
Some added bonus features, are that I’ve got three events coming up that I plan on doing for sheer fun that will require me to be in some sort of shape. A bike tour next month, a trip to the Adirondack mountains for a high peak hike, and a 5K benefit run out in Buffalo coming up in the fall. So for someone who ares moving as much as I do, I tend to want to do a lot of it.
I fought through the numerous excuses jumbled in my head that seemed perfectly legitimate reasons to go back to bed, and started off. Immediately, things looked up slightly. Within my first fifty feet I saw a doe and a baby deer still in spots, and a mother turkey with a flock of little nuggets crossing the road. All of them briefly stopped and looked at me as if to say “Look at that moron.”
Approximately 41 steps into my two mile course, I started to regret it, but I was determined not to quit until I at least broke a sweat.
My plan was to run the first mile, and on the return leg alternate between running and walking, since a straight two mile shot on a hilly country road after a several month’s long hiatus from doing this would have killed me.
I completed the two miles as planned, and sat on my front porch with a bottle of water and watched the remainder of the morning fog burn away.
And here is my real reason for this post.
As I sat there, I remembered back to my days in the academy where I was being whipped into great physical condition. Even though the runs were longer, I can’t remember them ever being as difficult as they are now- even way back in the beginning when we were getting our asses handed to us and recruits would drop out of line to vomit or fight dizziness. It was never this hard.
The more I thought about it, the more I realized that it was because I am facing this alone now. Where as I was surrounded by two dozen comrades last year facing the same challenges I was, they’re gone now. There is nobody to pace off of, nobody to try to beat, no formation to try and keep, no instructors running alongside offering encouragement or berating poor performance.
This morning it was just me and the animals, and really, they weren’t any help.
When the motivation has to come from within, and there is nobody alongside or behind you, it is so much tougher.
It is so much easier to run what feels like a thousand miles when there’s a drill instructor nearby to bark “Get Moving!” or a buddy at your side telling you “We can do this.” For some reason, the voice inside your own head telling you “We should go do this” isn’t nearly as loud or motivating, and I don’t know why.
That being said….I firmly believe that the people who can listen to that meek little voice inside them that tells them “Get your ass up and let’s go” are able to accomplish so much more than those of us who practically require an external source of motivation.
Look how many of us try on our own to work out. New Year’s Resolution’s anyone? Millions of us try to listen to that voice once or twice or a handful of times a year, and end up covered in dorito dust by Martin Luther King day.
Then look at the people who have stuck with it. All on their own, there’s a handful of them who are absolutely amazing to see. There’s an old science teacher of mine on the route I run who is a life-long runner. The guy used to run home from school in the afternoons for lunch, then run back. He is, for lack of a better word…a machine.
We are ALL pretty much capable of this level of awesome, as long as we can grab the gravelly inner voice that’s telling us what we NEED to do, and make it louder than the sexy siren voice telling us to do what we WANT to do.
Need promises pain.
Want promises sleep.
Far too often do we find ourselves in line for sleep and pay for it with snug pants.
So while I don’t have my academy buddies alongside me anymore, this morning as I jogged my first mile in far too long, I started chanting in my head the very same few lines I repeated over and over on those long nights as we ran the back city streets at the mercy of our PT instructor.
Every step you take
is one less
That you have to make.
The chanting is an effort I make to drown out the excuses and remind myself why I’m doing anything at all before I’ve had my coffee for the day, and at the end, while I sweaty and sore and gasping like I was auditioning for an adult film, I felt good, and I didn’t care how stupid the deer thought I looked.