TRAINING BY AVOIDING PERSONAL INCONVENIENCE

FEBRUARY 4 2013

A month into official Routeburn training and yesterday marked the first time I genuinely wished I could stay in bed instead of training. Don’t get me wrong, I often have thoughts about being anywhere-but-running – usually when I’m halfway up a hill of zigzags at 6:30 in the morning in the rain – but yesterday was the first time I honestly debated with myself, lying under a pile of blankets listening to the rain on the roof, whether I could get away with skipping a day.

Though I really admire people who are entirely self-motivated when it comes to training – the sort of person who may not actually exist outside of the imagination of people like me, who bounces out of bed with a smile on their face no matter what they have to do – I’ve never been like that. My training tends to be based around a simple principle of making it incredibly inconvenient to avoid. I get up at 6am and go to the gym before work every day not out of some sort of delighted interest in weight training, but just because of a complete lack of interest in an hour and a half commute if I leave my house the same time as the rest of West Auckland.

Even my weekly long run has a very specific routine attached to it: roll out of bed and into my running shoes at 7am, get straight out the door. I’m into about my fifth kilometre before my body even realises that I’m no longer asleep.

But this does mean when I stray from routine, it gets a little easier to think twice about things. At the moment, I’m in a fairly set routine – three morning runs during the week that vary from half an hour to an hour long, a Saturday morning two-hour-plus run, a Sunday morning two-to-three-hour trail walk. Ironically, the toughest one to motivate myself for is the Sunday walk.

In the dark of my room, my reasons for skipping the walk seemed fairly sound. I was still quite sore from the previous day’s 21km effort, which had incorporated more new hills than my body was entirely happy with. It was raining, which is fine when I’m running – I’m one of those freaks who genuinely enjoys running in rain – but tends to just make me feel miserable when I’m walking. I was still getting over a cold, I hadn’t had a lot of sleep, I had a lot of other things I could have been spending my morning doing. And when you’re training for a run – no matter how much you’ve accepted that you’re going to have to walk some of the race when it comes around – it’s hard to truly get your head around that you need to walk as part of your training, too.

Eventually I gathered the emotional strength to pull back my curtains and check on the state of the weather – there’d been a break in the rain and that was apparently all the motivation I needed. Once again, motivated by convenience over anything else, the idea that I could get my walk in before the rain set in again was enough to get me out of bed. That – and the fact that no matter whether or not you’ve actually started your run (or walk) yet, you can still play the “well, only three hours to go until I’m back home” game. There’s only one way that that number starts decreasing, and that’s by actually starting.