When I made the commitment to start training for a half marathon, I knew it was going to be physically difficult. What I didn’t anticipate, however, were the emotional hurdles that would inevitably get in my way. That is, life.
I recently went through a tough break-up. When I woke up the morning after, I was emotionally wiped out. I wanted nothing more than to stay in my pajamas all day, hide in my house, and eat chocolate. Inevitably, my half marathon training schedule flashed open on my desktop, reminding me I needed to run 4 miles that day. Naturally, I resisted. I was so laden with mental and emotional stress that I felt drained of all energy and motivation. And in a way, I think I told myself I couldn’t run because I was “in mourning”, and continuing with life as normal would insult the magnitude of the situation.
Even though running always cheers me up, I spent the day moping about and as a result, felt even worse. The next day, I acknowledged how counter-intuitive this kind of behavior was. I knew I needed to force myself into action. I started small: I laced up my shoes. I stepped outside, and I told myself that even if I managed a ten-minute jog, I would be proud of myself. Almost within minutes of being outside, however, my spirits lifted. I ended up running far more than I had anticipated (4 miles at 9 mph – a personal best). When I came back home, though I still felt sad, I felt more empowered to deal with and process those feelings.
When we are going through an emotional low period, whether it’s the loss of a relationship, the loss of a job, or simply being in a funk, getting out the door can be the biggest challenge. We might tell ourselves “I’ll take one day off – it won’t make a difference,” or with feelings of futility, ask ourselves, “What does it even matter anymore?” This kind of thinking is dangerous, however, because exercising not only provides a space for us to process and think through whatever we might be going through, but physically speaking, it releases endorphins. It allows us the freedom to move on with a clearer mind and lighter heart. You don’t have to run that 8K on an especially rough day, but don’t let your emotions keep you inside, as that might simply prolong those negative feelings.
What are your tactics for powering through with tough days? How do you rally the motivation to get out the door?
I don’t know what I did before TEDTalks. I can’t imagine anything more convenient, more inspiring, and more accessible than 20-minute-or-less videos from some of the world’s greatest thinkers.
Here are some of the talks that I’ve found the most interesting. If you have a few minutes, please give these a listen. You won’t regret it.
To remind you why not being productive isn’t always unproductive, Stefan Sagmeister: The Power of Time Off:
An inspiring talk by celebrity chef Jamie Oliver on how we can improve America’s eating habits from the bottom-up, Jamie Oliver’s TED Prize wish: Teach every child about food:
Considering becoming a vegetarian, but not quite ready to take the plunge? Graham Hill: Why I’m a weekday vegetarian
On shedding material possessions to make more time, space, and money for yourself: Graham Hill: Less stuff, more happiness
On rethinking success: Alain de Botton: A kinder, gentler philosophy of success
Simple reminders to find happiness in the everyday: Matthieu Ricard: The habits of happiness