Sunday, September 28, 2014
So there I was the other day, in the middle of the toughest run of my life. It was only tough because it was the longest; 10 miles. I was aiming to beat my previous record of 8 miles, during which I broke my previous record before that of 6 miles and change during my very first 10k race.
The first 4 miles were a pain in the ass. My knees ached and my belly (nicked-named, “Wilbur” by my wife) seemed to scream to me, “Jordan, you suck, go home and order pizza.” But I kept going. And then a funny thing happened around mile #7.
I didn’t care.
Miles, 8, 9 came and went, and finally mile 10 arrived (1 hour and 45 minutes later, not bad!). I slowed down to a walk and strolled home. I spent the rest of the day watching my beloved Philadelphia Eagles get a good lesson in humility, enjoyed a cheat day of pizza and wine, and woke up the next day….wait for it…not really all that sore at all.
I was a bit confused until my wife’s lovely friend Jackie said, “Uh, Jordan, you’ve been training for this 1/2 marathon since June. You’ve trained up to this, hello???”
I was reminded of how running 4 miles would have intimidated me back in the day. Now it is practically a warm-up. A listener invited me to this last week and I almost turned it down, as it was only a 5k.
So, about that Zone. Athletes talk about it in the context of feeling, and not thinking. A pitcher throwing a no-hitter is said to be in the zone. A writer is in the zone when great word combinations just pour out of his head, pass through their fingers and into the word processor. A seductive lothario stud-muffin gets into the zone when he flirts with women effortlessly with no fear, because he’s not thinking, he’s just being.
You ever see Star Wars? Using the force? Same thing.
All good examples, but you might ask, how do you get to the zone? My answer that has worked for me is very simple; TRY.
Try, and train. Try, train…and begin.
That’s it, there is no life hack for this one. You must begin. Seems simple, but so many of us (present company included) make excuses. No excuses, play like a champion.
Running-wise, I get to the zone every run simply by understanding that the first 4 miles are going to be the hardest. The zone usually shows up when I stop thinking about how hard the run is, and focus on the music and meditation and, my phone’s running program gently tells me, “You have run…8 miles….at a 10-minute mile…pace, split pace, 10 minutes and 2 seconds, keep going, Jor-dan. And watch out for that bus.”
Diet-wise; I don’t remember what is feels like to crave sugar in the morning. I just stopped eating it, and the first week, like the first four miles above, sucked. Now it’s the new normal. Eat healthy for one meal only. Now do another. And the next. Do it for a week. Do it for a month. The 30-day challenge thing is quite trendy at the moment for a reason…it works. Bad habits are easy to make, while good ones require effort. That’s a good thing. What isn’t earned, isn’t appreciated.
Most of us are in denial the change is a glacial process. Please build a bridge and get the hell over it. There are no get-rich-quick schemes, there is no magic pill, and anyone who says otherwise is trying to sell you snake oil.
To sum it all up, I have made successful changes in my personal and professional life by getting into that zone. I get into that zone by showing up and taking things a day at a time. I keep my gains small, but stick to my plans so that they add up exponentially, every day, little by little. Someone wiser than me said that 90% of life is showing up and following through. They’re right.
Again, don’t feel like working out? Too bad. But just do this; put on your workout clothes. 1/2 the time, you’ll keep going. Better than none of the time.
Don’t feel like running? Run the first 4 and see how you feel. Just starting out? Run 1 mile. Wait two days, and do it again. Then next week, add a 1/2 mile. Muscle through and before you know it, well, you know.
Don’t feel like eating healthy and you’re craving sugar (or its evil step-child, high fructose corn syrup)? Drink a glass of cold water, and stuff your face with lean meats and vegetables. Keep a food diary, write down every bad food you want during the week and save it for your cheat day.
Writers, don’t feel like writing? Got writer’s block? BULLS–T you’re being lazy. Start writing. I don’t care what it is, it could be nonsense. Just. Start. Writing. Give yourself a daily quota (Stephen King writes 2,000 words a day, every day).
Looks like Nike was on to something. Just do it, and the zone will come.
Note: this is a first in a new series of blog posts. I hate calling this an advice series, because most gurus and life coaches are sociopaths, and I don’t want to be anything like them, hence, I’m just going to tell you what works for me; hence the title.