Funny The Way It Is...

From the moment I heard that new song by the Dave Matthews Band, it resonated with me. It's true...it is funny the way it is. You can want something, but when the going gets a little tough, you can think of a million and one excuses why it no longer matters and you want to abandon the goal.

I've only been running a little over a year. Like many, I took up the sport as a means to an end--I had about fifteen pounds to lose. The calorie burn promised by running is very attractive--particularly for the time investment. Seemed like a winner to me. Followed the "Couch to 5k" plan like so many others and in just nine weeks, I was a runner. I vividly remember the first time I ran steadily for thirty minutes. I cried tears of joy. Something that seemed so impossible at the outset became a reality.

Somewhere the Type A in me took over. It was no longer about losing weight or getting fit (sure, those things happened, but by that point, it was immaterial). Suddenly it was about the run...getting better, going faster, enduring longer. I always tracked my results and studiously analyzed each run after it was completed looking for clues to improved performance. Still, I listened to my body each day. If I felt like running, I did. If I didn't, I didn't. If I wanted to run fast, I did. If I didn't, well, you get the idea. It was fun.

Like many runners, I decided to dip my toe into competition. I targeted a local half marathon, the Two Cities, in November, 2009. I carefully researched a number of training plans and read countless running books looking for pearls of wisdom. The 'beginner' plans just seemed too easy and unfocused...run thirty minutes, run for one hour. I craved more structure and challenge. I wanted that plan that said do this for this long and at this pace. In the end, the First training plans hit home. Structured? Most definitely. Down to the prescribed pace. But without a local track nearby, following the plan religiously was going to be difficult. In typical fashion then, I re-worked the plan to take advantage of my treadmill for the speed work. Not quite the same, but it will have to do.

And that's when it got funny...suddenly the structure felt like a noose around my neck. The runs that I used to so look forward to became like drudgery. Instead of running when I wanted to and how I felt like it, I now had to accomplish something on a regular basis. You should hear the dialogue going on in my head as I struggle to pull myself out of bed to put on my running shoes.

Funny the way it is. How about you? Do you struggle like this, or is it just me? What mind games do you play with yourself to keep focused on the goal?