My routine morning run can be 3.5 miles or 6 miles. I usually decide based on time before hand whether I can squeeze in the extra 20 minutes required for the full run. Sometimes, though, my 6-mile run becomes my 3.5-mile run halfway through.
My run is a big loop around town. The longer run is technically around two towns (but they’re small towns). The shorter run has a turn which, if I take it, will cut the run in half.
Many times, I start out for a six-mile and decide to cut it short because I don’t feel like running the longer run.
But the point of that decision … is a single turn. It’s at this one stupid intersection where I can turn and cut the run short.
I know that if I make it past that turn, I’ve committed to the full run.
So, I’ve noticed over the years that if my goal is to do the long run … I need to psyche myself up for that turn.
If I think about the longer run and how tired I will be … I won’t do it. On a cold wet morning at 6am, I just want to get back home and get warm and dry.
But … if I think about just running straight through that turn, it’s much easier. So that’s my goal in the mornings— to go straight at that turn. That’s an easier decision. Once I go straight, I’m committed to finishing the run.
I read this advice in a Twyla Thwarp book many years ago called “The Creative Habit”. She said that her goal in the morning was to get dressed in workout clothes and get in the cab for the gym. If she focused on the entire task of working out, it would demotivate her. So, the simple task of getting in a cab is what keeps her doing it.
I started doing the same after reading that book. I know that if I put on my running shorts in the morning, I won’t take them off afterwards without running at least a little.
Motivation, I’ve found, is making your decisions small enough to be manageable. Instead of “I’m going to run every day for the rest of my life”, it’s easier to say “I’m going to run today.”