Since I started running every day, on December 30th last year, I’ve noticed a few things. One thing is that I am hungry All The Time. Perhaps you should expect personal discipline to be necessary for daily running, but I was unprepared for how much extra restraint I would need around food.
I cannot eat all the pies. It’s tempting to assume that running burns an infinite number of calories (!), and *daily* running is a bulletproof vest when it comes to a healthy intake. But. Truth: feeling hungry doesn’t automatically equate to carte blanche on pastry. So I’m reintroducing a few techniques — habits which I used to cultivate, but which somehow fell to the back of the shelf lately, as life has become increasingly busy.
I used to make a fresh blended juice every day, which really helped guard against snacking, and kept my ginger and vitamin intake up (really good for anti-inflammation, immune system and general nutrition). I also just habitually didn’t eat junk. I might eat something indulgent on occasion, but it would be the exception rather than the rule. This combination of mindset and strategic substitute helps me to feel full and occupied throughout long days writing, shunning the biscuit barrel.
The other thing I’ve noticed about having an unbreakable rule of daily running is the frankly astonishing number of times when I’ve found a way to get myself out of the house and down the street when I really didn’t want to go. So many days have been over-full, and I’ve found myself arriving at 5, 6 or 7pm feeling exhausted, ready for a meal, or even bed, and wondering how I can possibly find the space and resource to put on my gear and slog out a few miles. (Or even worse, I’ve mis-timed all the meals, and I’m left having to wait until late night before I’ve sufficiently digested my dinner!)
If I hadn’t set daily running as a non-negotiable, I’ve lost count of the times I would have given the run a miss, due to feeling tired, or under too much pressure from other things.
There are unending demands on our time. I have four children, two of whom are battling through the complexities of secondary school and homework, and two small ones who need lots of reassurance and gathering up around tea and bedtime. I frequently have to make an internal (sometimes external!) declaration that I have capacity for this role – I am strong enough to be the parent they need, and I can make it through another long day, loving them, reinforcing the necessary boundaries, and giving them the necessary attention and focus. And that’s just the kids. (There’s also building my marriage, doing my job, the housework, grocery shopping, cooking meals, keeping an eye on my parents, and hoping that our elderly cat makes it through another night…)
You know how it goes. You have your own set of responsibilities and privileges, the things you must do and the blessings you count.
I heard someone once say: “We do the things we want to do.” Maybe. What I’m coming to realise is that we do the things we must do, and we do the things we decide to do.
So for what I eat — I make a decision. I eat stuff that is good for me, and in healthy amounts. I support that decision by making healthy choices easier (what I buy, making a juice first thing etc.)
Running every day is a decision. I make it easier by generally putting on my gear every morning, and getting that run in as soon as possible. A critical factor in this having total support from my husband, who will shove me out of the door if I haven’t run by the time he gets in from work.
My work is writing. And if I waited until I felt inspired, or caught up on the wings of creativity — well, let’s just say it wouldn’t happen every day. So I make a decision, and I support it by sitting down at my desk every day, distractions muted, and typing something.
To make sure I can do everything which I must do, there are some things which I decide to do. And so I do them.
I’m upping my blogging output for a while, and I thought it might be encouraging (for me anyway!) to note my mileage along with my word count… so as of today, the running streak total is 141 days, 518 miles. #runeveryday