I am running along the sidewalk in my neighbourhood. It is early morning and it is relatively cool. Just a week earlier the morning temperature was 10 degrees warmer.
Fall is here, I have decided.
After taking a moment to mourn the passing of summer, I remind myself of all of the things that I like about Fall. I like the idea of a fresh school year, new routines, and crisp morning air. No forest fire smoke and no overbearing heat to get in the way of my running.
As I think these thoughts, I notice my energy spikes in response. I pick up the pace a bit. Then I proceed to have the thought that I have every single morning… I am so happy to be out here.
As the owner of a desk job, this may be the only chance that I have to move my body today. I feel energized. And I feel grateful to myself for making this happen.
Which is interesting because it was an entirely different story just 10 minutes earlier.
Even though all of my running gear was right beside the door to remove any possibility of an excuse, I was busy entertaining two thoughts. The first was that I don’t have time for a run this morning because I have an early morning meeting. The other is that I am cold. With the drop in temperature overnight, the interior of my home is cooler than normal, which made it difficult to get out of bed this morning. I am definitely resisting the idea of going outside.
So how did I come to be running ten minutes later and feeling gratitude instead of resistance?
It’s interesting because some days it doesn’t even occur to me that I have the option of not running. I’ve been doing it for long enough that I just operate on auto-pilot. However, it seems that even after the habit is formed, a small change in circumstance like an early meeting or a drop in temperature can throw up obstacle thoughts for me.
So this particular morning, I had a bit of a talk with myself. Like I do every time I have obstacle thoughts. I rationalized my way through the morning meeting and the temperature by telling myself that I could go for a shorter run than usual. And I would bring gloves.
Falling in Love With the Process
But most importantly I reminded myself how good it feels when I am running. Not afterwards (although that feels good too) but the actual running. Moving my muscles, breathing deeply, creating energy, sharing the peace with only the birds and the dog walkers, listening to my podcast. It’s my version of ‘me time’. It all just feels really good.
Although there is much evidence to support the long-term benefits of exercise to my physical and mental health, those are not the thoughts that propel me out the door in the morning. Even though those long-term benefits might have inspired me to start the habit in the first place, it is the short-term benefits that keep me going. The thoughts that I am going to enjoy the run, being outdoors, listening to the podcast, the neighbourly smiles. Those are the thoughts that motivate me to get going.
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