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Running downhill with the wind at your back is easy; it’s when you turn around you find out how well you’ve prepared.

Saturday’s long run is a good example. I knew I had to run ten miles, so I gave myself two hours, which should have been plenty of time to warm up, do the run, and cool down.

But instead of getting myself out the door, I sat around drinking coffee, while glancing at my watch occasionally. When I pulled out of the driveway, I realized I would have just enough time to get to the trail and do the run.

Of course, I failed to take road construction into consideration.

By the time I was sneakers on the ground, I was literally running late, which means, my warm-up was non-existent, which means, at 8 ½ miles, I had run out of time, and my knees were hurting.

It was at this point a light bulb switched on in my “learn it the hard way” noggin: every time my knees hurt, my muscles were tight.

There might be a correlation here.

Because I didn’t give myself enough time to properly warm up (which should have been a mile jog followed by light stretching), my knees suffered.

So, in my usual, human guinea pig style, I have vowed to try a proper warm up next time with stretching, and THEN begin my run, even if it means waking up with the chickens on a Saturday morning.

Only by doing a proper warm-up can I determine if my knees are paying the price for my own laziness, or if there is a real medical need to slink back to the physical therapist, tail between my legs.  

In marathon training, it’s not the wind or the rain or even the mileage I’m fighting; it’s my own proclivity towards procrastination.

Time and time again, I willingly slide my toes into the warm, comfortable tar-pit of failure.

Because if I don’t give 100%, I can always say, “Well, I didn’t really try,” or “I needed more time,” or “I had to stop because my knees hurt [because of my own neglect].”

I know that people who do great things are those who commit themselves whole-heartedly. They give every ounce of their being to do something well. No excuses.

I get this.

I comprehend this on an intellectual level.

But it is incredibly difficult to lace shoes on it and go.

It is much easier to fail if you have an excuse.

What if you give not just what you think is your best attempt, but a genuine, 100%, to-the-point-of-collapse effort, and you still fall short of your goal?

That’s scary.

That’s being human.

But that is the fear I must overcome—and soon.

No excuses.

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