That which hinders your task is your task
I heard an excellent quote the other day while listening to a podcast (a great way to pass the miles and learn new things) during one of my easy, recovery runs: “That which hinders your task is your task.” So many of us would love to take on the task of running more seriously and setting loftier goals, but often fail to ever do so. The most common hindrances? Time and motivation, or lack thereof.
No matter what you’re building, it better be set upon a solid foundation. Failing do so will eventually lead to structural failure. Success (however you choose to define it) in running comes from smart, consistent training over long periods of time. I want to see every runner I come across achieve his or her own form of success in the sport. I want to see every runner build consistency in his or her training, day in and day out. In order to achieve that daily consistency, one must carefully consider the way one’s day is structured. This is the task every runner must complete before taking on the task of running itself.
I’m currently 36 years old with two young kids. I’m busier with work and life than I have ever been, but am in the middle of the longest stretch of successful, injury-free running that I’ve ever had. How am I doing it? I rebuilt the foundation on which my days are built, that being my morning routine. Starting the day effectively provides more time to tackle the tasks that we consider most important, and also allows us to maximize our motivation and willpower. Because our lives are so varied and unique, there’s no one-size-fits-all morning routine. However, there are some general rules you can follow to get the most out of your mornings and, in turn, the most out of your days…
- Every morning starts the night before. Ditch the screens (phone/TV) at least 30 minutes before bedtime. Read a book. An actual book. Made of paper. Your sleep quality will improve, setting yourself up for a better start tomorrow morning.
- Wake up early. (You’ll need to in order to accomplish everything listed below!)
- Make your bed. Seems silly, but it helps start the day with a win and builds momentum. There’s even a book about it called “Make Your Bed” by Admiral William H. McRaven. Check it out!
- Hydrate right out of the gate. Drink at least 16 ounces of water within the first half-hour of being awake.
- Take away some carbs and add more protein to your breakfast. This will help your body continue to recover from the previous day, as well as keep you from overeating later.
- Develop a short stretching routine (around 10 minutes) to complete within the first half hour of being awake. I recommend some easy yoga poses. This serves as a form of active recovery. It will increase blood flow, improve your flexibility (injury prevention!), and have you feeling more alert and awake.
- Pick the task that is most important to you, and get at it. Our motivation and willpower are typically highest in the morning, and slowly dwindle throughout the day. The hour between 7-8AM is naturally more productive than 7-8PM. For many people reading this, that means doing your running in the morning before work, if possible. If it’s not possible to get out and run in the morning, think about what tasks might keep you from running in the afternoon and attack them first thing.
- I’ve also heard quite a bit about the power of meditation in the morning. It’s something I’m playing around with, and have found it to be a nice buffer between accomplishing some work-related tasks and getting my kids out of bed so that I can focus solely on them during our breakfasts together.
A carefully constructed morning WILL create the foundation needed to get the most out of your day. As a runner, you will begin to find more time and motivation for your training, as well as feel better during that training. If you would like more information or help concerning the structure of your morning and starting the day right, I’m happy to help! You can email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org