Wednesday musings, 9/28/16: on consistency and running

I began running in 1996, shortly after my 16th birthday. While I had dabbled in team sports, I wasn’t terribly coordinated or athletic with anything involving round objects. I knew exercise was important, and running seemed to be a good way to acquire fitness (though my definition of fitness has changed over the years, running was definitely my gateway drug).

After about 4 years, my running improved. I became (slightly) more efficient. I enjoyed being outside, and I liked that I could do it anywhere.

Since then, I have logged approximately 19,476 miles. I run three days a week. My runs range from 5-7 miles long. I have sustained two running related injuries. The first was a sprained ankle (it turns out, running trails directly after getting your pupils dilated might not be the best idea). The second was an overuse injury in my left foot from increasing mileage in Vibram’s (which I still run in). I have changed my running gait a handful of times and I run on varied terrain. What I lack in speed I make up for in consistency.

In the book “Nudge,” economists Thaler and Sunstein state, “With respect to health-related behavior, significant changes have been produced by measuring people’s intentions.” It turns out, if we intend to do something, we take tiny little measures to accomplish that thing. (This is different than having a goal, which often leads to the feeling more obstacles are created to prevent you from accomplishing the goal).

If there is an activity you really enjoy today which you intend to still be doing twenty years from now would it affect how you currently do that activity? Once I realized running meant more to me than calories burned or fitness attained, it became me intention to run into my 80s. This dramatically changed my approach to how I run and what I do to support my ability to run (which ultimately means doing more than running). Maybe, instead of setting goals, ask yourself what your intention is. It might help you get out of your own way.