Hard.

Tonight I went for a run.  But in order to prop that run up as something meaningful and noteworthy, and significant enough to expend all these precious keystrokes on, I have to lay out the rest of my day:

I didn’t sleep well last night.  I don’t know why – I got to bed later than I wanted to, a certain child kept showing up in my bed with bony knees jabbing into my side, and I had to pee several times, because I guess I have the bladder of a 70 year old man.

This evening was kindergarten orientation.  There seem to be multiple versions of this leading up to the school year.  This was the one where you don’t bring the dagger-kneed child.  So we dropped the kids off at my parents, and endured enjoyed a run through of what kindergarten is about, how to make sure our little angels are properly prepared, and a tour of the school.  After that, seeing as we had no children handy, we went to dinner, during which I consumed entirely too much sushi.  It was delicious, and I can’t say that given the opportunity I’d do anything differently, but by the end of the meal, it was apparent that I’d made a mistake.

We left dinner and picked up the kids.  Somehow, in the hours since dropping them off, the temperature dropped 30 degrees, and gusty winds started blowing.  It got cold.

We got home, the kids reluctantly went to sleep.  I was sleepy, uncomfortable from overeating, and just generally grouchy.  And I remembered that I have to run tonight.

I’m not generally a person who “has to” run.  I’ve never met a training plan I’m unwilling to ignore.  But last weekend, for reasons I can’t remember, I stumbled on Pact, a website that forces you to stick to your plans by charging you $5 every time you don’t.  And, because I was probably bored, and it was a Saturday, I went ahead and signed up, said I’d run every day this week, and then gave them a credit card.  Weekends are strange, dangerous times for me.

So that brings me back to tonight.  I’m grouchy and uncomfortable, it’s cold and windy outside, and I have to run.  I’m not going to pay $5.

So I dutifully put on my shorts, running shoes, headphones, and step outside.  And it starts to rain.

At this point, of course, I’m spectacularly annoyed.  But I go anyway.  And almost immediately, something magical happens:  It feels good.  I still don’t feel good – I’m cold and now wet and I feel a bit like I’m going to barf – but forcing myself to do something I don’t really want to do, when I had every reason not to do it feels good.  And soon I’m running too fast, forcing myself to slow down to avoid getting hurt, or bonking before I get home.

Sometimes hard is good.  Maybe sometimes hard is to be sought after.  Maybe it makes us better, gives us a reason to fight.  Maybe there was something off about that sushi.  Regardless, tonight’s run was good.

And before someone tries to call me out on the fact that 2 days ago I mocked suffering for the sake of suffering, let me announce: I’m aware.  And I don’t care.  Looking at you, Mazur.

Consistency

My coworker Joe posted about consistency in fitness a couple of weeks ago, and I’ve been stewing over it since.

I have a lot of ideas.  I’m interested in a lot of things.  All the time.  That’s good – I like being excited about life, learning, and experiences.   I want to know how the universe works.  I want to understand the details That led to WWII.  I want to understand calculus.  Really understand calculus.  I want to learn how to fix my car.  I want to write machine learning algorithms.  I want to be able to run fast.  I want to build a sprinkler system controller that interfaces with my phone.  I want to explore strange places.  I want to start another business. I want to be good at growing tomatoes.  I want to climb mountains.  Lots of them.

I also have a full time job, and a wife, and some kids.  I can’t do everything I want to do.  Even without the job, wife, and children, I couldn’t do them all. Progressing at any single thing comes at the expense of several others, at least in the short term.

What’s left is a question of priorities: what do I most want to learn, do, experience?

All this does have something to do with consistency.  In order to achieve consistency, and its benefits — to commit the time and effort toward a goal day after day for long enough to gain traction and get somewhere — requires real commitment.  Maintaining that commitment means trusting the initial decision, and sticking to it, which feels like a terrible thing – ignoring the ten things you want to do for the one thing you’re actually doing.

So, what is consistency to me, really?  It’s making a decision, and then not second guessing it for long enough to see it through.