The Effects of a Habit

When I was getting into running, it was a complete pain to convince myself to run. Especially in the cold winter or the hell that is summer. I convinced myself that missing a day would be disastrous, and so I managed to wake up at the crack of dawn to avoid the heat or sleep in sweatpants to reduce the work necessary to get out the door.

Taking these simple steps to make my life easier, even though I was actively making my life harder by waking up early and running on an empty stomach, was a big factor in running daily and building a habit. Even within that first training cycle, by the second month, my natural circadian rhythm woke me up early. I didn’t appreciate it as much on the weekends, but I tried to keep my eyes on the big picture. Now,┬áthese simple steps were easier to take the next time I began training for my season, whether it be cross country or track and field.

I didn’t realize just how easy it would become. All of a sudden, the mental effort it took to convince myself to wake up became easier, or even nonexistent. The first few days might be difficult, but instead of taking 2 weeks of nagging myself, it would take 1. There were other cues in place that I subconsciously accepted, like not wearing my pajamas in the winter and wearing sweatpants or tights instead. Every big step that I had to take the first time around, I suddenly perceived as a little step. And it was this shift that made all the difference.

Perhaps there is an element to this that plays a bigger role than I’ve mentioned: the results of the habit. Every season you reap the results of your hard work, and seeing those results periodically improve definitely makes it easier to put in the work moving forward. But who’s to say that this isn’t part of the habit itself – after a good race, it’s not like I stopped running just because of one result. Instead, it was a building block and made it easier to motivate myself further within the training cycle. This was especially important once school came around, and I’d have to wake myself up earlier and more mental effort was being directed to tasks other than eating, sleeping, and running.

Nonetheless, without the first time I built this habit, it wouldn’t be nearly as easy. A stitch in time saves nine. That first step you take in overcoming Resistance is the biggest one, and it makes every other step that much easier.

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