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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Good Is Good Enough

When we moved down here, there were a few things about me that I really wanted to work on, and for several months, I was great at them.

Now, as many of those things have lost their newness and luster, I feel that I'm starting to backslide just a little bit into the habits and tendencies that led me to unhealthy living before. Not too bad, mind you, just not doing things with the discipline that I required of myself at the beginning of the year. Hey, that's what New Year's Resolutions are for right?

So now, as I sit about 9 weeks from a marathon in Seattle, I really have to look at myself and decide what I want to do.

You see, I've always been interested in pretty much everything. Whenever I encounter a new experience that I enjoy, I immerse myself in it as much as I can for, say, a week. Some part of my brain says to me, "You can be great at this if you just work hard enough." So I work really hard, as I said, for about a week. Then another part of my brain speaks up. It says, "Maybe you can be good, but you can't be great." And my inspiration dwindles. I can pick up a guitar and play a few songs, but when it comes down to it, I'm simply not that good outside of playing chords. I'm not a terrible addition to any trivia team, but the Jeopardy qualifying test kicked my butt. And though I've always had a gift at running, I have never been able to break into the top tier of runners.

And maybe it's because I spread myself too thin. If I want to be great at guitar, I've got to practice two hours a day. To be a strong runner, I'll have to get an hour workout in most days, and even longer once a week. To gain the knowledge to rule all triviadom, that's another two, three hours of reading. Add in an hour for the blog (because I'm not very quick at writing), eight hours at work, four hours at rehearsal, and, oh, I don't know, 30 minutes for eating meals to fuel all this nonsense, that leaves me a whopping 5.5 hours to sleep. Clearly, I can't do all of this.

Unfortunately, that mindset keeps me from really doing any of it. I get frustrated that I can't do all the things I want, and I spend so much time trying to prioritize it all that I end up wasting hours deciding what to do. So, I sit in front of the television because it's a form of entertainment that doesn't require me to do anything. Passive living. That's what I'm good at. That's what I'm great at.

But that's what I'm tired of, too. So why is it so hard to change?

Because after a week or so of doing something differently, I get distracted. Something comes along that seems better or more fun or easier, and I let that change my mind. Even the weekends seem exhausting because they're not a break from my routine, they're just another day without a routine. With the exception of the fact that I work certain hours, my weekdays are completely arbitrary. Some nights I have rehearsal, some nights I don't. Some days I get up early and run, some days I run after work, some (most) days I don't run at all.

I really need advice on how to force myself into a routine. Punishing myself hasn't worked. Rewarding myself hasn't worked. What I need to do, somehow, is take away the choice. That's the joy of running with another person - if you're not there, you've let someone down. You don't have a choice but to head out the door and meet them. Days when I make the correct choice seem to be getting more rare, so I need to take away my option.

Yesterday, however, was a day when I made the right choice. I drove my wife and her brother to a concert, washed the car, and headed back home. It was about 89 degrees outside, so washing the car (self-service) worked up quite a sweat for me. On the drive home I thought, well if I'm already sweaty, I might as well work out.

The previous night, I had put together a schedule of "other workouts," stuff to build my arms and core, based on experience and various articles in Runner's World. So, I decided that even if I didn't go for a run, I'd do my Tuesday otherwork. But if I was going to do that, I might as well run a little, just for warmup and cool down. Maybe a mile each. Or maybe two miles to start...

By the time I'd negotiated my way up to my full workout, I had an hour of work ahead of me, but I did it with energy and excitement. I really felt like I had worked myself correctly and made the good choice for once. Granted, I slept in today, but I blame that on the rather freaky dream I had last night. I'd been frozen until a cure was found for some genetic disorder I evidently had, but they had to unfreeze me before they found a cure, so really I'd just wasted ten years in the freezer...

The bottom line is, I need to take away my choice, for at least four weeks. Somehow, I need to make sure that there is no other option for me but to do my workout first thing in the morning.

How how do I do that?

Tuesday's Workout:
89 Degrees / Sunny
-2 Miles, 13 Minutes, 51 Seconds
-5x (20 Sit-Ups, 10 Push-Ups, 5 Push Press)
-1 Mile, 6 Minutes, 58 Seconds
-10/8/6 Reps (Bench Press, Pull Down, Curls) Increasing weight
-1 Mile, 7 Minutes, 30 Seconds

Total Run:
4 Miles
28 Minutes, 19 Seconds

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