Once you determine to make exercise, running in this case, your priority, the next step is to know why.
There could be many “whys”: to lose weight, to get healthy, to run a marathon or compete in some other competition, to meet the hot guy who lives down the street and runs shirtless through your neighborhood every morning.
Knowing why you are running not only provides you with a critical focus, but it also is the first step to establishing smaller, more attainable goals. This focus, and the ensuing goals, creates a final destination and a path to that destination. Without this focus, you might easily lapse back into old habits and get lost along the way.
I think of it in terms of traveling. What is the first thing you do after you decide to take a vacation, whether a long summer holiday or a weekend getaway?
You decide on a destination.
That destination could be someplace exotic and halfway around the world, or it could be someplace close. Either way, you have to figure out where that “someplace” is. Once you decide where, you can then work on how, which will include the path you travel to get there and what you visit along the way.
Have you ever taken a drive without knowing exactly where you intend to end up? What happens? You meander. Sometimes you run into sights and experiences that are pleasant, but many times you spend so much time figuring out which road to take and where it will end up that you sacrifice some of your ability to relax and enjoy the trip.
Another way to think about this is in terms of learning new things. It could be a new software application, a new skill, or simple everyday tasks. When I am confronted with learning something new, it helps me to know why I am doing that particular task.
- I have to save a new document in Word before I get to the end because if I forget I will lose all that work if my computer freezes.
- I put fabric softener in the rinse cycle because it makes my clothes smell fresh(er).
- I get regular oil changes on my cars because they will run better and last longer.
- …and, for those moms out there, “But Mom, why do I have to go to bed so early?”, or, “Mom, why do I have to brush my teeth. I don’t want to.”
Knowing why can also help you express, or even defend, your choice. There are those in my life who question why I exercise so much. Some of the concerns are wear and tear on my aging body, time away from my motherly duties, money spent competing. If I didn’t have a strong commitment to my “why”, these dissenting opinions might serve to weaken my will, or lead me to second-guess my choice.
I run and exercise regularly because it helps me stay fit, which helps me feel better both physically and mentally. When I am not exercising regularly, I eat more and consequently feel sluggish, not to mention that I get extremely cranky when those endorphins are not coursing through my brain in a steady, strong stream. Don’t even get me started on what happens when I am PMSing AND not exercising regularly. Better watch out!
As you might have concluded, making exercise your priority goes hand in hand with knowing why you are exercising. You have to have your focus set before you can push yourself out of bed, or away from the computer, to go out and run even on those days when you don’t feel like doing it.
So, what is your why?