The #1 reason I don’t get things done (in life or on the run) is ‘I don’t feel like…’. As in: I don’t feel like going for a run this morning or I don’t feel like eating kale instead of pizza for dinner.
A few years ago, I came across a quote that kind of blew my mind:
You don’t have to feel like getting something done in order to actually get it done. – Melissa Dahl
I suppose I’ve known this for a while without realizing I knew it.
I’m a marathoner because I’m a planner. I long ago realized that when I’m training for a marathon, I’ll set up my training calendar and I’ll proceed to do nearly every run on it. Doesn’t matter the weather or how much I don’t want to run, if the training plan says to do 5 miles, I’ll run 5 miles.
Without that training plan structure, the odds of me going for a 5-mile run, just because I should, epically drop.
Somewhere in my mind, I know that when marathon training, going for a run on any given day is no longer optional. I need to do the work today in order to do the work tomorrow. If I don’t do today’s work, tomorrow’s work doesn’t go away- it just gets harder.
It doesn’t matter if I don’t ‘feel like’ going for a run. The run must happen.
The Same Lesson Applies to Life
The really big aha moment for me was connecting this marathon training lesson to my productivity in general: I can’t give myself the option of deciding what I feel like doing on any given day.
I should never ask myself what I want to do.
‘Wanting to’ is irrelevant.
You Rarely Want To
Even if you love running, there will be days when you don’t feel like running. Going for a run after a long day at work isn’t always fun. Sleeping in on a rainy Saturday morning can be super tempting.
If you ask yourself in those moments if you want to run, the answer may very well be no. If you are anything like me, you’d much rather stay home in sweatpants watching Netflix.
Do I want to get up at the crack of dawn on a Saturday to do a 20-mile long run? No. At least I never have so far. When the alarm goes off, I want to roll over and go back to sleep.
But what I want to do is irrelevant.
Don’t Feel Like It? Do It Anyway
Don’t wait until you feel like it. Do it anyway.
Don’t make it optional. Do it because it’s the thing you have to do to reach your goal.
Will you feel like doing those particular to-dos tomorrow? Doesn’t matter.
Will you feel like running tomorrow? Doesn’t matter.
Those are the steps you have to take (and the miles you have to run) to cross the finish line, both literally and figuratively.
Ideas on How To Make It Happen
I know, I know. That sounds all nice and idealistic, but it’s so much easier said than done.
A few ideas on how to do it anyway:
Put it on the calendar
Enter your run into your daily calendar as a non-negotiable appointment with yourself.
When an event is a free floating to-do for the day, it’s much more likely to get bumped down (or off) your list of priorities to make room for things that are more urgent or more fun.
In the middle of a busy day, which do you think is more likely to happen:
- A run (that you just now should happen, but that isn’t written down anywhere), or
- A 4 mile run at the lake at 6 PM entered into your daily agenda
Make it specific
I’m notorious for not doing the strength workouts I know I should do. A major reason for this was that for a long time on my calendar I’d just write ‘strength.’
I’d see that and my eyes would glaze over. How long should I do it for? What moves should I do? I’d get tired just trying to figure out what to do and would eventually do nothing.
An immediate improvement came when I made my strength plan more detailed: instead of ‘strength’ I’d schedule: a 15 minute lower body strength video from Fitness Blender or the 5 minute core workout from the Nike NTC app.
Take as much thinking out of the equation as possible.
Read more about why always being in training for something helps me run more regularly.
Just start – commit to 5 minutes
Mood often follows action.
Don’t run because you feel like running. ‘Feeling like it’ will often come after you get started.
Get out the door and start running, committing to run at least 5 minutes. Very often, you’ll get into the groove of the run and keep running. If not? You started, you tried.
That counts for something too.
Run first, run early
If you wake up and run right away, it’ll be done before you have the time to talk yourself out of it or realize you don’t want to.
The longer you wait, the more likely you are to come up with excuses about why you can’t/shouldn’t/don’t want to run.
Get it done before you realize it’s happening.
Running Journal Prompt
What things do you tend to put off when you ‘don’t feel like it?’ How do you feel about this decision after the fact? At the end of the day, are you happy about your decision to put off your planned task or do you usually regret your decision?
Are there any lessons from this you can use in your running life?