My natural tendency is toward laziness.
Given the choice between doing something easy and relaxing, like sitting in a cosy countryside pub having a beer vs. doing something active, like go for a run, I would almost always choose the former.
So it may come as a surprise that in the next three days I’ll be running the equivalent of a marathon, a half marathon and a 10K. (The goal today is 16 miles/26 kilometers and tomorrow’s the “long day”.) Before training for this, I’d never run more than a 10K.
I’m not a stranger to taking on crazy, self-imposed physical challenges like this before.
Years ago while backpacking in Asia, I spent three weeks trekking to Everest Base Camp, when the maximum amount of hiking I had done was two days in a row (once).
On my suggestion, my husband and I biked through Vietnam on our honeymoon, when previous to it I had spent a max of half a day on a bike a handful of times.
The thing is, I’m not averse to being active. I obviously like the idea, but I’m not an active person in practice. I’m just not used to it; I wasn’t brought up that way, the way my husband was. I didn’t have a habit of being active, so I wasn’t.
Bragging rights aside, what attracted me to all these challenges, I realize now, is that I wanted a way to create a habit out of being physically active. I knew I had it in me. I just needed to kick myself in the butt in order to do it; and I needed an outside impetus and an excuse to do nothing but keep moving day in and day out to achieve a singular goal.
For both the trek and the bike ride, I was challenging myself to do something physical — and mental — every day for around three weeks.
For the 45-mile (74 km) run staring me in the eye, training has been essential. I’ve spent the last five months running an average of three times a week, when before the training I wouldn’t even have considered myself a “runner”.
I’ve seen, through these last months of training how, slowly but surely, anyone can turn being active into a habit.
It can overwrite your laziness tendencies and how you were raised.
You create new momentum. And once that momentum’s there, it’s very hard to stop.
And the next time I find that I’ve fallen out of the habit of being active, I can simply cue the next challenge.
Stay tuned next week to learn how I fared on my epic run.
Disclaimer: The run, while long, is completely non-competitive. I’m here with a large group of friends. There might be long pub lunches and a pint or two of ale involved halfway through each day’s run; we are in England after all. But with the training I’ve put in, I think I’m more than allowed. See, sometimes you can have your cake and eat it too.