A friend and I were catching up last night at a local bar. We started with some small talk, which included the topic of exercise. He knew I had been slowly adding running back into my exercise routine after an injury.
“Are you running again,” he asked.
“I am. I’m up to 30 minutes of continuous running with no pain,” I smiled.
“Thirty minutes, that’s great,” he replied. He continued, “About 10 minutes into a run, I’m just annoyed. If I can get past that 10 minute mark, I seem to do better.”
“I know the feeling,” I replied. “Try running slower for the first 10 minutes,” I suggested. “Just treat the first 10 minutes as an easy jog, enjoy being outside, and slowly increase your pace as you warm up. Just slow it down at first.”
“I think I can do that,” he said with a bit of “aha” in his voice.
My advice to slow the initial pace of my friend’s run is a strategy that can help us accomplish other important but undesirable activities that we’re avoiding or dreading.
Here’s the idea:
When you have something you need to do–something you don’t want to do–and you’re avoiding doing it, try beginning that activity at a slower pace (internally and externally).
When an activity is– for whatever the reason–distasteful, but we can no longer avoid it, we often want to hurry through it. This hurry begins as a “revved up” feeling inside. We get the feeling that we need to rush through the undesirable action and get onto something enjoyable. This revved up feeling only increases anxiety or frustration. It also can lead to sub-par execution, which ironically extends the activity (and the dread).
So the first step: When you want to rush through an important but undesirable activity, instead…Slow. You. Down.
More on slowing you (and me) down next time.