Breaking Habits Apart and Trying Potato-Coucher to Ultra-Runner Part 2

Running an ultra is tiring, so you have to prepare yourself to be tired, and to be prepared to be tired you have to train!

Like most people, I always have a lot of grand plans, and objectives, but I don’t really follow up with them the long term. For some reason, it is extremely difficult to maintain a  diet, continue going to the gym, or reading 50 pages every night before going to bed instead of watching stupid TV shows.

There must be a lot of psychological elements coming into account, which I don’t pretend to know. However, I know a big deal about slowly falling back into old comfortable habits after a couple weeks (at best) of resolutions. The difference this time is that it worked!

How did I change my habits? There are a lot of elements that can be considered. I think that being in a new environment helped a lot because I didn’t have reminders of old habits to tempt my influenceable mind. I had both a passive and active role on the redefinition of my environment. On the active side, I  tried to modify other habits which are more or less related to running everyday. In the supermarket, I won’t go in certain alleys anymore because I know that I will succumb to temptation. I also tried to trick my mind. For example, I crave sweet things at night, so I started preparing healthy versions of junk food. Nowevery nightt I dip a banana into melted dark chocolate (preptime 45 sec), or every now and then will prepare black bean brownies or other baked treats.

But don’t think I changed! Only my habits did. Yestterday there was half a cadbury milk chocolate bar left on the table by my housemate. It was gone in less than 30 minutes. So I didn’t change my habits by becoming better, I changed my environment so that the parts of my personality which are stopping from reaching my goals don’t surface.

A new environment is great, but it’s not the only component of this change, since I already tried to get fit before in a new environment and failed. There are two things which helped me to change. The first one is that I had a set objective which I made public. I think that announcing my goal to run 50k has put me against the wall. Now that it out in the open I felt like I had to deliver, there was no other option, except ridiculing myself. Maybe some people would feel like signing up for the race would have a greater impact for them. I didn’t sign up to the race until a few weeks before it started, I don’t think that when I signed up it made a crucial diference, even if it was a great reality check.

So the last element of success is that I actually tried, over and over and over again. Maybe  this time I was lucky that and  it worked out. I like to think the past failures have thaught me how to really try this time. I had a well defined training plan, I was motivated, I told people about the project. But the truth is that it might just have been a lucky shot. All the stars were aligned so that this time it would work for some reason.

I’m not an astrologist, I don’t know when the stars will align, I can’t just wait, I have to try and try until hopefully one day I will try at the right time.


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