Learning Good Habits From My Past

I used to be a faster runner. I used to be a fitter runner. By no means was I a competitive athlete, but I was a better version of myself than I am now. I've let my fitness go and I'm paying for it. I don't feel as good or as strong as I used to feel. This needs to change. I have an issue with motivation and discipline, and that will continue to hold me back if I don't address it. Maybe it will be helpful to identify the behaviors that worked for me in the past. My ideal self in the past was from 2012. After that, I increased the quantity of races I was running, and decreased the quality. I started traveling so much that it was more difficult to stick with a consistent training plan. I didn't adapt my training and fitness to the new things going on in my life. Let's see what I can do about that.

I've never been as fast as I was for my marathon PR at 2012 Grandma's Marathon

After my half marathon PR at the 2012 Rock 'n' Roll Providence Half

  • I used to eat less overall. I don't mean that I starved myself. I've never been like that. But I used to be better with portion control, especially with snacking. I might have made some less than healthy choices, but I didn't make multiple poor choices every day.
  • I used to eat more fuel before a race. These days I try to get by on one chewy granola or energy bar, regardless of race distance. I used to eat more before a distance race or a long training run, and I think I ran better that way. Examples that worked in the past: a mini bagel with cream cheese and a vegetarian sausage, or a granola bar and an apple. Not just one thing, but more than one thing, and from more than one food group.
  • I used to drink more wine. I don't know if that makes any difference. I drink beer more than wine now, and I don't drink daily. Maybe I need to resume drinking a glass of wine a day. I think it goes along with eating regular meals and defining that time as mealtime. These days, I do OK with breakfast and lunch on weekdays, but dinners and weekend meals are at odd times, and not well-planned.
  • I used to stick to my training plan, at least mostly. It was never a crazy or unrealistic training plan. I used to run three times per week, and do some additional exercise as cross-training. Now, I make grand plans, but frequently find excuses to skip workouts.
  • I used to do strength workouts a couple days a week. I always felt better when doing strength training. It worked for me when I went to a regularly scheduled group session where I knew the trainer and had friends in the group.
  • I used to do less sitting on my butt. I used to go out more and be more social. I participated in more cultural activities outside of home. I probably also shopped more, and now I shop almost exclusively online. I certainly didn't binge-watch shows on Netflix. In short, I was less sedentary.
  • I used to get more sleep. I didn't stay up as late on weeknights, and I would try to go to bed earlier than normal the night before a race or a long training run. I'm always up late now, in part due to Scot's work schedule. I don't get to see him on weeknights unless I stay up late. Still, I should try to get more and better sleep. Our time together will be of a higher quality if I'm more rested.
  • I used to live alone. It was easier to control my habits and spend my time my way when I was single. It's been a difficult adjustment, even three years later, to living with someone. This is one factor I'm not looking to change, but I do need to find a better way to manage myself and keep myself accountable for my own behaviors, and for meeting my own goals, regardless of what's going on around me.  
So, there they are: the factors that were different back in 2012 when I felt better and ran faster. Now that I've identified them, it will be easier to make changes to get back to where I was. I'm going to try keeping myself on track using checklists. I'll do this via my iPhone's "Reminders" app. I have created both a daily and weekly checklist.

iPhone screen shots of my checklists

Since starting to think about these factors, I've slowly started implementing them. I'm on Day 6 of at least 30 minutes of exercise per day. Four of those days have included some strength training, though not a full-blown gym session. Two of the days have included a glass of red wine with dinner. I've snacked, but less than before. I participated in one social activity outside home, though it was a simple work happy hour. It's a start.


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