Most days, I try to wake up when my wife leaves for work before 7:00am. I am, you see, a blogger, a writer, and a reader, which is a roundabout way of saying I’m unemployed. Therefore I must create my own structure or suffer in its absence. (It’s quite easy to get distracted without physically reporting to a work place.)
So what do I do? To start, I read the news, put on some coffee and grab a bite to eat. Roughly 80% of my work entails reading because I am perhaps too fully conscious of my own ignorance. (And so the paradox goes, the more you learn the more you realize how ignorant you actually are.) But by one or two in the afternoon, my nearsighted eyes have about had enough. Plus I tend to get stir crazy, and so I have to get out of the house or risk spontaneous combustion. Why not exercise?
Throughout my college days exercise never made it to the top of the priority list. It pains me to write that I spent the better part of three years as a sedentary creature doing much the same as I do now—reading and writing. But out of the blue one day early this year, I set out for a run, made it three miles, and felt pretty damn good about myself. Notwithstanding one or two minor interruptions, none numbering more than a week, I can now safely call exercise a “habit.” I now regularly log between five and seven miles every day. (Excepting Sundays, the day the Lord preordained that all men should drink beer and watch football.)
Still, the temptation to not run presents the greatest obstacle to making exercise a habit and not a guilt behavior that occasionally accompanies dietary indiscretions. Excuses are as bright and alluring as candy to a child in the impulse aisle of a convenience store. The mind will suggest taking a day off. And why not? You’ve already ran for five straight days. Or perhaps it’ll bargain for running two miles instead of three. Or maybe the mind will amplify that mildly sore ankle. Yea, better not risk fracturing it, right?
The point is this: you can debate about exercising all you want, but you still have to make a conscious decision to run or not to run. My advice? Promptly end that debate with the Nike motto and an expletive: Just fucking do it.
The beauty of this mindset is that, while initially difficult, it eventually becomes habitual as you lace up your shoes every day. Instead of five separate and difficult miles, the distance blurs together as a single task. And this is just the point. After a while, the five mile run every day becomes as habitual as preparing coffee in the morning or checking the mail.
I don’t encourage everyone to start off with a similar exercise volume. It takes time to accomplish anything—be it running five miles a day or reading for six hours a day to master an obscure subject. Just fucking do it.