Monday Runday: The Hard Thing is the Easier Thing

2246017748_640eff414b_zOne of my life lessons is this: the hard thing is the easier thing. I've written about this before, but the idea is that doing the harder thing often benefits you in the long run, because cutting corners almost always costs you more than just doing it well the first time.

Major disclaimer: the fact that this is a life lesson doesn't mean I pull it off all that well. In fact, it's the times I've gotten it wrong that drive home how true it is. It requires a major hacking of your brain to pull it off, because most of us will trade future misery for present comfort.

I really hate menu planning and grocery shopping, for example. It's tedious, and for a family of five, unrelenting. Some weeks I just can't face it. So I've blown off going to the store, which later forces me to cobble together a decent meal with, like, frozen pearl onions and ranch dressing. And guess what? That's even harder, and makes us all grumpy. So I realize, once again, I should have just gone to the dang store.

The hard thing is the easier thing.

This axiom is especially true in areas of fitness and exercise. People wonder how I can get up early to run. Where do you get the discipline? they want to know. It's a hard thing, getting up when the alarm clock has a 4 in it. I'll admit that. But it's sooooo much easier than trying to shoehorn in a run once I'm in a groove at work, or right before the kids get home, or after they're in bed. That requires way more willpower than I have. I know it sounds crazy, but when I run early, it's not because I'm disciplined. It's because I'm lazy.

I'm currently facing the consequences of the easier thing. I lost 40 pounds a few years ago, then watched it creep up a bit and stay there. I was OK with that--my body seemed to be telling me where its ideal weight was. But now it's crept up again, to the point that I don't feel healthy. My clothes don't fit as well. I'm sluggish when I run.

I know I'm fighting age here. But I also know I haven't been mindful about what I eat, how much, and when. So I need to fire up MyFitnessPal again and see what happens.

Maintaining a weight loss is a very hard thing. Know what's even harder? Losing it again. And that's what I get to do. Sigh. Wish me luck.

Have you seen this dynamic at work in your life? Would love to hear about it.

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Photo Credit: dawn of time by elwood, used under a creative commons license.

For Those Who Run at 5 AM (We Salute You)

This post is dedicated to my local chapter of Moms RUN This Town. 100 days to Marine Corps Marathon! One of the things that inspires me about my MRTT group is the number of mamas who get up for 5 a.m. runs. A year ago I couldn't imagine doing that. Now it's something I do 3-4 times a week. (I take naps in the afternoon--a benefit of working from home.) Some of us meet even earlier, at 4:30 or 4:40 for some extra miles. Yikes!

I used to think people who ran that early were crazy, or way more accomplished runners than I was. Some of them are the latter, to be sure. (And maybe the former!) But now I realize, running early is usually out of simple necessity: the workday doesn't allow running at other times, or we have little kids we're taking care of at home, or we're just trying to beat the heat. There are times when I don't absolutely need to run that early, but the prospect of meeting a bunch of funny, fierce gals is enough to set my alarm.

Back in June, a friend of mine ran mid-morning, and when she stopped by Starbucks later, she got lots of concern from fellow customers about how hot and flushed she looked. "You need to run earlier!" one man chided. Because my friend is nicer than me, she didn't say "Are you going to come over and get my kids ready for school for me?" We run when we need to run.

On our group's Facebook page, we share inspiration and encouragement. This commercial came across the page recently:


Whether you're a runner or not, the message is spot on---it's the little choices, often when nobody's looking, that make us who we are.

If I had skills in video editing, I'd put together a spinoff of this commercial, in honor of the MRTT 5 a.m. crews. But I'd want it to show the awkward side of running so early... such as stumbling downstairs and stepping on an Iron Man toy that starts talking to you. Or putting on your running clothes in the dark and later realizing they don't match. Or stopping by the grocery store after a run and being puzzled that it's closed, then realizing it's not even 6 a.m. Or being the first one out on a trail, which means you get a face full of cobwebs.

In that spirit, I posted the following on our MRTT Facebook page a year ago when I first started running at 5 a.m. Thanks, you guys, for inspiring me every day.

Top 10 Reasons Why Running at 5 a.m. is Awesome

10. You've officially accomplished something, even if you sit around in your pajamas the rest of the day. 9. If you puke, no one sees it. 8. It's good for the environment: only one shower per day. 7. If you go with [one of our chapter leaders] you'll get a muffin. 6. The sense of adventure that comes from wondering whether that hulking object in the shadows is a serial killer... and realizing it's a trash can. 5. If you use MyFitnessPal, running first thing means you know how many calories you have for the entire day. This is known as The Donut Rule. 4. People's head lamps and glowing phones look like little fireflies dancing in the night. 3. Sunrise and moonset. 2. Saves you money: no need for silly things like sunscreen, hats, visors, sunglasses.

And the number 1 reason why running at 5 a.m. is awesome: 1. When it's dark, everyone looks like a badass.

Whether you run early, late, or not at all---go make one good small choice today.


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