The Next Right Thing

Hi runners!
It's almost spring! A time for change, a time for growth, a time for donating all the "fierce" clothes you purchased this past year that you never wore.

Recently, I entered a new phase in my running journey; what am I running toward? The easy answer is, "all 'dem medals!" A slightly deeper answer would be; "fitness, weight-loss and overall health." But neither of those answers, really sat well with me. A: I will never have enough medals...that's just a fact.  And B: I'm fully aware that for me, fitness is going to be a constant struggle and goal, whether or not I run. Though, to be fair, both answers were at one point, accurate. And neither are fully inaccurate. However, something shifted.

I found myself in a place where I was feeling super confident that I could wake up on any day and bust out a 5k, or a 10k. If given a day's notice, I could likely push myself through a half marathon. I wouldn't PR, but I'd finish...which is generally my goal anyway. This sense of comfort led to a bit of...runner's hubris. I wasn't necessarily cocky about it...but I also wasn't taking my training as seriously as I should. Which in turn made me mentally backslide. I wasn't getting that runner's high that I'd been used to. My sense of accomplishment turned into a feeling of, "I can skip today...I'll be fine." What started as a point of pride and joy, turned into a routine, or worse, a slump.

My mental backslide started to turn into a physical one. I started to lose my motivation. Skipping my Tuesday run, turned into skipping my Thursday run. Soon I was logging less miles and finding it harder to hit my goals.

For me, when I find myself start to slip or become complacent, it's very easy to fully check-out. Luckily, I know myself enough that I anticipated this happening with my training, and I actively booked myself for multiple running events in the coming months. I still had my goals in place, but in the back of my mind, I kept asking myself, "why am I doing this? what is it serving? if I stop will anyone care?"

As I sunk further into my backslide, I started comparing myself to others. Which, for me, is the easiest thing in the world to do. I'm really good at it. I should get a medal. I saw friends and people I follow on Instagram, logging amazing times, and hitting PRs and pushing further and faster. People who had just started their journey with running, were already hitting better times than me. To be fair, speed has never been my game...I'm not a fast runner, and I'm fine with that. But it's easy for me to get into my head about it, when I'm already feeling down. I'm super good at that too. World class.

Just when I was about to hit the bottom of my Insecurity Well, I heard an interview on one of my favorite podcasts with BJ Fogg. (such a great name). He has a book out called Tiny Habits. What I pulled from hearing him speak, and from what I've read so far in the book, is that by making small changes in your behavior and your environment, you can alter the course of your life. It's not about making huge lofty goals and leaping into them (which tends to be how I operate). It's about taking baby steps toward an ultimate future way of being and behaving. Fogg also talks about believing in yourself and not punishing yourself for not following through each and every time. It's okay to fail, as long as failing doesn't drag you down and become your new habit.

With this little bit of information, I reminded myself that I don't have to be the best or the most experienced or the fastest or the strongest runner. And further more, being faster or stronger than someone else, in no way makes me better. All along I've said that for me, running is not a competition against others. It's something I'm doing for myself, to better myself and to discover myself through physical activity. What makes me uniquely me also informs what kind of athlete I am. Every runner out there brings something different to the table that may give them an advantage or an obstacle on the road. How many people out there are 5'5", 155lbs, deal with headaches almost every day, deal with depression and anxiety, are approaching 40, are nursing a knee that hurts once in a while, live with the washboard abs of King Triton and have a tendency to lie about one thing in a list of attributes? I'm guessing not a lot. I don't use any of those as an excuse or a reason to hold back (especially the part about the abs...and the lying). But they do paint a picture of what I'm carrying with me each time I lace up my running shoes. I don't need to crush it, every time I go for a run. But I should continue to make tiny steps, toward taking longer strides in my progression as a runner. Pardon that obvious and clumsy metaphor.

This new way of thinking, unlocked a fresh perspective on running and in my life as a whole. Little changes can become permanent healthy habits that can lead to long term benefits. The next step is to identify what changes or shifts I can implement to get me to the next level. When I go for a long run, maybe I'll take one less walk break, or maybe I'll push myself just a little faster for one minute. Or maybe the new habit can simply be to change up one thing each time I run, just to mix it up and keep it fresh. One habit I did land on, that I've been doing before each run is to take a moment, and say to myself, "this is for me." It's small, it's easy, it's attainable...and for me, it works. It's a reminder that my run is about my day...my goal...my experience. How I get to the finish line has nothing to do with how anyone else gets there. It's about my journey...it's for me.

I encourage all of you to check out Tiny Habits by BJ Fogg. The book is much deeper and wiser than the small piece I pulled from it. I'd also encourage you to find your next tiny habit that you can incorporate into your running journey. I'd love to hear what you come up with. Leave me a comment here, or reach out to me on Instagram @patrickkozicky.

Take care of yourselves and each other. See you on the road!




Comments

  1. Aunty Myrnah here.

    I couldn't agree with you more. I try to do micro habits that don't overwhelm me. Slowly they become your life and you're on to the next micro habit.

    Also this is the lyrics to a song that has carried me to many a finish line.

    "Wear sunscreen. If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it. The long term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by scientists whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience. I will dispense this advice now

    Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth; or never mind. You will not understand the power and beauty of your youth until they have faded. But trust me, in 20 years you’ll look back at photos of yourself and recall in a way you can’t grasp now how much possibility lay before you and how fabulous you really looked. You are not as fat as you imagine

    Don’t worry about the future; or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing
    Bubblegum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that
    Never crossed your worried mind; the kind that blindside you at 4 PM on some idle Tuesday

    Do one thing every day that scares you

    Sing

    Don’t be reckless with other people’s hearts; don’t put up with people who are reckless with yours

    Floss

    Don’t waste your time on jealousy; sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes you’re behind. The race is long, and in the end, it’s only with yourself

    Remember the compliments you receive; forget the insults. If you succeed in doing this, tell me how

    Keep your old love letters. Throw away your old bank statements

    Stretch


    Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what you want to do with your
    Life. The most interesting people I know didn’t know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives. Some of the most interesting 40-year-olds I know still don’t

    Get plenty of calcium

    Be kind to your knees, you’ll miss them when they’re gone

    Maybe you’ll marry, maybe you won’t
    Maybe you’ll have children, maybe you won’t
    Maybe you’ll divorce at 40
    Maybe you’ll dance the funky chicken on your 75th wedding anniversary
    Whatever you do, don’t congratulate yourself too much, or berate yourself either. Your choices are half chance; so are everybody else’s

    Enjoy your body. Use it every way you can. Don’t be afraid of it, or what other people think of it. It’s the greatest instrument you’ll ever own

    Dance, even if you have nowhere to do it but in your own living room

    Read the directions, even if you don’t follow them

    Do not read beauty magazines; they will only make you feel ugly


    Get to know your parents; you never know when they’ll be gone for good

    Be nice to your siblings; they are your best link to your past and the
    People most likely to stick with you in the future

    Understand that friends come and go, but for the precious few you
    Should hold on

    Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle, because the older you get, the more you need the people you knew when you were young

    Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard

    Live in Northern California once, but leave before it makes you soft

    Travel

    Accept certain inalienable truths: prices will rise, politicians will philander, you too will get old-- and when you do, you’ll fantasize that when you were young prices were reasonable, politicians were noble and children respected their elders

    Respect your elders

    Don’t expect anyone else to support you

    Maybe you have a trust fund, maybe you have a wealthy spouse; but you never know when either one might run out

    Don’t mess too much with your hair, or by the time you're 40, it will look 85


    Be careful whose advice you buy, but be patient with those who supply it
    Advice is a form of nostalgia. Dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it’s worth

    But trust me on the sunscreen"

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