Aim Higher

If my goal for the day is to run two miles, I feel exhausted by the time I finish. If my goal is to run four miles, I don’t feel exhausted at two.

This reveals to me that it’s all about the mindset. Obviously I’m physically doing the same amount of exercise by the time I finish two, so I believe that the difference is in my expectation.

My brain is constantly looking for an excuse to stop pain. If it is convinced that the pain will not stop at 2 then it’ll do whatever necessary to cope. And it copes by telling itself that this pain is normal. But if it knows I will stop soon, it will stop trying to cope.

Lesson: whatever your goal is, always aim a few notches above it because it’ll give you the mindset of a person who sees the original goal as normal.

What I Learned by Running a Mile Every Day for 100 Days

What I Learned by Running a Mile Every Day for 100 Days

On March 20, I challenged myself to run at least 1 mile a day for 30 days and decided to document it on my Instagram. I started this challenge because I wanted to develop discipline and prove to myself that I could accomplish a long-term goal. After 30 days I didn't want to stop so I told myself I'd do 60, then 100. 

At this point, I don't know when I'll stop, but what I do know is that I've benefited so much already. I feel that I've grown in this period of time at a faster rate than ever before. Well, maybe I grew at a faster rate when I was a toddler. For example, I went from crawling to walking in just one day. Now that's a really big improvement in life if you ask me.

Anyway, here are the cool insights I've gathered by running a mile every day for 100 days straight. 

It Does Get Easier

I know it seems like this should be obvious but let me tell you, it wasn't obvious after the 30th or even the 60th day. There were lots of days when I did the bare minimum and wondered if 1 mile would ever feel like a piece of cake.  Now I can say that it does feel that way more often than not. Don't get me wrong, there are still days when I reeeeaally don't feel like running, but once I get out there that feeling usually goes away and I'm done before I know it.

Without any rest days, I thought I'd be exhausted by now, or that my legs would wear down, but that couldn't be further from the truth. In fact, I was recently able to run 13 miles (my longest run yet) and in two days I was ready to go hard at it again. No soreness whatsoever. 

Of course, this can only happen if I take care of my body, which gets me to my next point. 

It Leads To Other Healthy Habits

I drink water now! Hooray!

Before this challenge, I sometimes went days without drinking any water. Now I can't afford to do that, so it doesn't happen anymore. 

I know that if I eat chips or drink soda, I will soon feel weak and not have the necessary energy to do a long run. I had to go through a few runs where a felt extremely weak before I learned that lesson. 

Because I work on my body constantly, I simply don't feel okay with mistreating it anymore.

Side note: I've found that I get great results if my pre-run meal is just a protein shake. It sits a lot lighter in my stomach and gives me long-lasting energy. I especially like a vanilla protein powder and a banana mixed in with coconut milk. 

You Can Learn To Love Things That Make You Uncomfortable

If you told me I would learn to love running a few months ago, I wouldn't believe you. I just couldn't fathom liking something that brought so much discomfort. In fact, I still can't fully understand it; I just merely feel it. 

I started running almost a year ago but I only did it for health, not for fun. Now, the health part is just a bonus. 

Before I started this challenge, I would dread the days when I've committed myself to run more than the minimum. Like when I ran with my local running club, for example. Now I have no fear of that inevitable pain. And during the runs, I don't constantly wish for the pain to end. 

Because of this challenge I learned to be okay with being uncomfortable. 

It Increases Self-Efficacy

There's no denying it: a daily dose of accomplishment does wonders to your psyche.

Every day I have accomplished a goal I set for myself, thus increasing my confidence to accomplish things. Running every day has changed the way I approach new goals, tasks and challanges. I'm now more of an optimist and risk taker.

A case in point is when I took the initiative to create a website for my local running club even though I had no coding knowledge. I don't think my past self would have done that. 

Photo by aquachara on Unsplash

My Personal Development Project: Move a Mile a Day

My Personal Development Project: Move a Mile a Day

If you see my Instagram, you would notice that I'm running at least 1 mile every morning.

About a year ago I made the conscious decision to make running a part of my life, the reason being I want to live a long and healthy life. In the beginning, the times when I ran were sporadic. I basically ran only when I felt like it. Sometimes I even took weeks off. 

To become more consistent I joined a running club. This really helped my consistency and endurance. We ran on Mondays and Thursdays, but when it came to the rest of the week, I didn't always run. Again, only when I felt like it.

While that certainly was an improvement, I wasn't running as often as I would have liked to. I think if I truly want to become a lifelong runner, I need to turn running into a subconscious habit. This is why I've decided to take on this personal development project. The challenge is to move at least 1 mile every day for the next 30 days. 

Now, one mile may not seem like much for someone like me, but that's by design.

This isn't about the distance or the speed. Running 1 mile may be easy. Staying consistent is the hard part. It means I have to do it even on my worst days. 

By making it an easier distance, I'm also removing almost every possible excuse. There's almost no reason why I couldn't go through 9 minutes of discomfort every day. If I made the challenge 3 miles I would be more likely to resist even getting out there, and that doesn't help me. Besides, what I've found is that once I'm out there, I'm likely to push myself beyond 1 mile just to make my day's exercise more impactful.

Another reason is that I currently have an injured knee which is in the process of healing. Right now I can't run more than three miles without devolving into a limp. Even though I'm taking on this challenge, I'm also committed on allowing my knee to heal. It may mean that if it starts hurting too much, I will walk that day. Either way, at least one mile will get done. I'll even crawl if I have to.

In order to make this challenge more real, I decided to document it on Instagram. If you want to witness my journey, you can go ahead and follow me there. It'll give me more reason to not give up and you'll get slight doses of inspiration. At least I know I get inspired when I see other people's hustle.  

If I'm successful maybe this will turn into a yearlong challenge, or maybe I'll go crazy and make it lifelong!

Maybe I'll be like this man who ran every day for 45 years:


Featured image by Anders Jildén on Unsplash

Understanding My Limitations

Understanding My Limitations

I love running.

I love it because of how clear a metaphor it is for so many aspects of life. It's one of the simplest ways to teach yourself how to become a better person. For example, the experience of pushing yourself after you think you have nothing left is something you can transfer in your work or relationships. 

Running has taught me a lot about myself, including the fact that I am capable of more than I previously thought. Just when I thought I couldn't run any longer, I somehow found a way to keep going. (mostly with the help of running with other people)

It turns out that whenever I feel like stopping, I usually have more than a few miles left in me. Thinking that I couldn't keep going was all in my head. I had a self imposed limitation that wasn't reflective of reality. The cool thing is that the more you push yourself the more you realize that you don't know where your own limit is.

If this is true for running, where else is it true? That is an exciting question to wonder about.

Don’t Underestimate The Power Of Internal Motivation

Don’t Underestimate The Power Of Internal Motivation

When I was in high school, my basketball coach asked me to join the cross country team and I reluctantly said yes. At that time I hated running. I ran as a form of conditioning in basketball and track, but I viewed it as a necessary evil.

I remember, after every practice run or race, I told myself "I never want to do that again," but somehow I always found myself doing it again. Not surprisingly though, that was my first and only season of cross country.

This last summer I made the decision to start running as a way to get back into shape. Later, I ended up joining a running club. Miraculously I now enjoy running.

Back then I was barely able to run a full 3 miles without feeling like dying. Now, after five sedentary years and gaining 30 pounds, I am somehow able to run 8 miles consistently. Not only that - I went from dreading the next time I had to run to looking forward to it.

If you told me that I was capable of running 8+ miles straight back then, I would have called you crazy. Now I do those runs on a weekly basis. Also, I'm looking to increase my endurance to the point where I can do 18+ mile runs.

So What Changed?

It's not that I wasn't physically able to run 8+ miles during high school. After all, I was in way better shape back then. I would say that back then I did not have the same internal motivation. My reasons for running did not come from within. Rather, my biggest reason for why I ran was that I didn't want to disappoint my coaches. This was an external motivation, which could only take me so far.

This time around, it was solely my choice to start running. There's no external pressure to do it - I know that I can quit any day and no one would care or think less of me. It may sound counterintuitive, but this freedom is what allows me to stay motivated. That's because it lets me know that I'm doing it because I genuinely want to.

We all understand this of human nature: if you tell a person what to do, they are less likely to want to do it, even if they know it's in their own interest to do it. Also, if the person does it, they will most likely do a worse job than if it was through their own volition. 

During school (and I guess throughout my whole childhood) I got accustomed to being controlled. I was told what I should or shouldn't do and what I should or shouldn't aspire to. As a result, I lost touch with my own wants and needs - the things that wake up my internal motor. 

I think this is what happened with me and running. I felt the external pressure to run, therefore I didn't do so well. Now that I have no one telling me what to do and feel no pressure, I am more motivated than ever to be a better runner. Now, instead of having people push me, I have an internal motor that's faster and unrelenting. 

Making the transition between being internally motivated rather than externally hasn't been easy. After being externally directed for so long, it's taken me 5 years to realize that running is something I genuinely want to do. This is just one thing, but there are many other aspects of my life where I'm still lost. 

This is why I would urge parents and teachers to stop controlling children's lives so much. For about 18 years we push them towards what we want out of them and then when they're set free we expect them to suddenly become strong willed. This just doesn't make sense.

What we need to do is teach them to be in touch with and follow their own compass, because that's where they will thrive.