Endorphins for Fun & Profit

Exercise is good for you. This is not a groundbreaking statement, it’s just pointing out the obvious. But for me, exercise has always felt like a bit of a chore. Something I have to do, and people tell me I should do, and therefore I resist. The more you want me to do something, the less likely I am to do it. I am stubborn even when it comes to things I enjoy and are good for me. Peer pressure never really works on me, and reverse psychology is often so obvious it doesn’t work either.

I’ve written a little about overcoming some mental obstacles when it comes to exercise and I am working on a few things at the same time and I’ve been trying to really analyze my behavior before, during, and after exercise to see if I can find patterns. Before every run (let’s be real, jog) I get very nervous about quitting. Before I even start the jog, on the way to the track, I am consciously setting myself up for failure. When I get to the track, I turn on the timer that tells me how far I’ve gone and I turn on the GPS tracker and some songs and I just start, no hesitation. As I run I assess how I feel and it is almost always awful. My legs hurt, my feet hurt, my lungs hurt. I incorrectly assume I’ve gone half a mile when I’ve only gone a quarter. I don’t believe I’ll make it the halfway mark and then I do and then I don’t believe I’ll finish and then suddenly I’m done.

It’s 30 minutes of jogging. I’m working my way up to 30 minutes without stopping and today I ran for 16 minutes without stopping, walked for one, and then ran for another 14 minutes. It was supposed to be 13, but I wanted to get to my water faster so I ran until I made it to that part of the track. This is kind of a big deal for me. Not only because it’s the longest I’ve run without stopping, but also because I swam laps for an hour this morning before running at the track. No one is more surprised than me.

I’ve fallen off the swimming wagon because I wasn’t sure how to fit it into this new learning to run plan, but we are dangerously close to the Transplant Games, and I need to be ready for not just the running races I’ve signed up for, but the swimming events as well. Listen, I get that an hour of swimming relatively slowly and 30 minutes of running very slowly before noon is not a big deal, but it is for me. Not physically necessarily, though my body does feel it, but mentally. I am always trying to save energy. For what? I have no idea. When I run I make sure to run well below my limit so I don’t have an asthma attack, or feel like my legs are wooden blocks. Derek always says what’s important is time on feet and I suppose that applies to swimming as well, time in pool. But when am I going to learn to just relax and push myself harder?

One of the biggest things I’ve had to overcome the last few months is living with and celebrating microscopic progress. In order for me to stick with something, I need near instant gratification and that is untenable and unrealistic. I am trying to embrace minute change, minuscule progress. I am running longer than I did the time before, I am swimming faster and farther than I did the time before.

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