How To Do Crazy Things (and live to tell about it)
Friday, September 28, 2012
Thirty-nine hours and counting. That’s the deadline to my demise… I mean, to my marathon. Have you ever enrolled for something, thinking it would be a jog in the park, just to realize you’ve actually signed up for a 42.2km endurance race? Yeah, me neither. I’m usually fully aware of the crazy I commit to.
This leads me to tip number 1: pick an appropriate challenge. That means discarding any inappropriate excuses. Are you used to choosing easy projects? Pick something hard. Are you constantly giving up on yourself? Choose an easier goal.
People usually fall into one of two categories: those with too little confidence, who have no idea what they’re capable and those with delusions of awesomeness, who believe they can do it all. I fall firmly in this second category. This often leads me to spectacular failure, which helps me learn that I’m not, in fact, superhuman.
Choosing an appropriate challenge means weighing the gains with the potential costs. It means knowing who you are, what your patterns are and what your limits are, both your highest limits and your minimum limits. Everyone has a different crazy threshold, so never feel bad about yours. You can always grow it, one whacky experiment at a time.
Next, have a plan. Crazy always needs a plan otherwise it can go off course so very easily. My plan? Do whatever the trainer says. I’ve been through seasons of self-motivation. I’ve been through seasons of team motivation. I know that I need different motivation in different seasons. Sometimes the type of motivation that works will change. I trained for my first races solo and indoors. I was the type of crazy that would run 72 laps of the Kinsmen indoor track. (On the plus side, there was a washroom and water fountain literally around every corner!)
Now, though, solo won’t cut it. I need help. In fact, I considered hiring zombies (the only thing I can say I’m seriously terrified of), to run after me. Fortunately, accountability partners and doing things in a team can be just as effective.
And so it goes, but only if that works for you. Notice a pattern?
Next comes getting the work or training done. Every challenge can be broken into smaller steps. Unless you can fly, it’s best to take each step one at a time, since they all need to be done anyway. Sure, you can skip over 4 or 5 steps with a single bound, but eventually, you’ll have to return to ‘do the work’.
There’s only one way to really overcome all of the steps, in my opinion, and it’s to accept them. The workout nights that I resisted most were always the worst. The more energy I wasted on whining about how many hills I’d have to run, well, the more energy I wasted. That does make it hard to do something that requires so much energy, (duh, I wonder why that took me so long to learn?).
This is where it’s important to know why you’re doing this challenge. What motivates you? Is it accomplishment? Pride? Excitement? Money? Do you want to impress your spouse, parents or kids? For me, I know I’m driven by pride to a certain extent. One of the main reasons I want to run a second marathon is because so few people do. And because I’m so driven, I don’t even consider quitting. It’s just not an option.
Until I’m in the middle of it, of course. That’s when brain starts working overtime to think of every excuse it can come up with to help me get out of said training.
My last tip here is to let it. Let your brain do all the scheming it wants, while the rest of your body goes ahead and does whatever it needs to do. You wouldn’t believe how many times I’ve fully convinced myself to fake an injury, much less the times I’ve considered actually injuring myself to get out of a run. I’d be looking down the barrel of a 32k peak distance run, finding every excuse in the book why I shouldn’t have to do it. But I’d go through the motions of getting my gear ready and putting on my shoes. I’d convince myself to start, and as I let my mind wander to ways to be inconspicuously absent, all of the sudden I’d realize I was halfway done. And if there’s one thing I know, it’s that if I can do one half, I can certainly do the other.
This is how I accomplished every single one of the long runs I did this summer. It took every dirty trick I knew, and every positive thought I could conjure, but I’m ready for my big race… and then my next crazy ordeal.
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