Why Quitting Is Harder

Today I went for a run.  I don’t run as often as I used to, for getting out of the house to workout with 4 kids is not an easy feat; however, once in a while I still enjoy a leisurely run, fresh air, and change of scenery besides my “fitness room” that consists of a computer and all the free weights stacked neatly as decor under my coffee table.

My friend and I have a yearly 5-miler we run every August, which we’ve done for so many years.  As we get older, our training time for this race seems to get shorter, with last year our “training” starting 2 weeks before the race.  Needless to say, we don’t run to win.

We decided to start “training” a few extra weeks earlier this year, so today we pushed each other to do a 3 mile run (this is only the 3rd time I’ve run this summer).  Luckily I drank my energize before, because it was hot and my hamstring was tight and achy.  That last mile I wanted to walk, but knew that would only make it harder.

As we were running, I remember the times I really ran, training for a half marathon.  I’ve learned in all my years of running that stopping and restarting during a run is soooo much harder than just continuing on even when you are tired, even when you are hurting.  It’s tempting when you start feeling fatigued to simply walk for 30 seconds and then jump back into your run, but anytime I’ve done that in the past, that starting back up was so much more painful and uncomfortable.

This is true with so many things in life.  Getting started is the hardest part.  When you quit and then start again, it seems even harder.  Maybe you started running, maybe you started a new fitness program, maybe you started a new nutrition plan….getting started is the first awesome step! And it does get easier as you get your momentum going, get more in the habit of your new lifestyle, get into that “runner’s high” where your legs almost are on autopilot.

Yet most of the time we build that momentum, then we stop.  We might only mean to stop for a day or two, or a quarter mile, but starting up again seems so much harder.  It’s more painful.  So we keep putting it off a little longer.  We convince ourselves we failed that time, we can’t stick to things.  And we make a plan to restart at a much later date.

Change that.  When you have the momentum, make the decision to keep that momentum going.  This doesn’t mean you never fall off track for a day, or never miss a workout, or never run 1 mile less than you meant to.  Those things for sure will happen on your journey.  What it does mean is you don’t let that short stumble stop your momentum.  It means you pick yourself back up the next day instead of waiting until the next week, before your momentum has worn off and you are starting back over from scratch.

I once heard this escalator analogy, and I taught it to my coaches in reaching their business goals.  Reaching your goals is like climbing UP an escalator that is going down, with your goal being at the top.  If you keep putting one foot in front of the other, keep pushing and holding onto that momentum, you will eventually reach the top.  But the second you stop, the escalator starts bringing you down, farther from your goals.  If you stop too long, you quickly find yourself back at the beginning, on the ground level, looking up at that goal as if it is so far away.

Keep the momentum.  One stumble does not mean you stop.  Stay on the escalator and don’t let it pull you down.  Those little steps will add up, and if you get pulled down a couple steps, you can start climbing again before you are back to the beginning.  It’s like the 2 steps forward, 1 steps back thing.  That’s just how that goal chasing journey goes.

That’s what I tell myself when I’m running.  “If you stop, you know it’s going to be so hard to start back up again…so just keep going”.

I will finish my 5-miler once again…I may run like a shuffler, I may be towards the end of the running crowd, but I won’t stop running the entire time.

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