Bad Habits and New Resolutions

‘Tis the season of resolutions. The number of friends dedicating themselves to juice detoxes and Whole 30 diets plus the overflowing classes at my studio tell me all I need to know about resolutions and fresh starts. I’ve been making a few resolutions myself–though I prefer terminology a little less cliched. Maybe “re-commitment to good habits?” “Life-changing practices?” Or honestly, just “living a more full life.” Mostly, these commitments have to do with an upcoming marathon on March 7. The most difficult stretch of my training happens to fall this time of year, and I’ve made a very big goal for myself. A dream I’ve had since I started running longer distances about seven years ago. One I never thought possible until a couple of years ago, one my running coach says is very much within my grasp–qualifying for the Boston Marathon.

 

Until now, I’ve worked about 75% at my running. I do most of my training. I have a strong core (I teach Pilates–I should hope so). I have a nutritionist. I eat right about 75% of the time. I go to bed early *most* nights. I hydrate well–until about 8 p.m. I have a flexible schedule, a supportive spouse, no children.

I KNOW the things I’m supposed to do. I’ve just never done all of them at the same time for any stretch longer than 48 hours.

Let’s back up to how I started the new year. Not well.

After traveling and over-eating and complaining about the lack of fresh vegetables in my diet, I started New Year’s Eve the right way. I booked a morning client so I could get to a Pilates class. The class was full, but another teacher and I worked out together instead. I did my shake-out run. I was feeling pretty smug and superior about myself by noon. Tim and I had already booked our New Year’s Eve dinner. A last blast before buckling down for a new year of working and training. We went to Better Half for a seven course meal with wine pairings. The food was divine, the portions manageable. I wasn’t overstuffed. I was tipsy, but drinking plenty of water. It was 10 p.m. Tim wasn’t feeling well. I SHOULD have gone home and gone to bed. Not only would it be the kindly spousal thing to do, but it’s the smart RUNNER thing to do.

And yet the devil on my shoulder said “it’s New Year’s Eve! It’s only 10 p.m. Your friends are having a party!”

Not to mention that New Year’s is a very, very difficult “holiday” for me. It’s the day I met my ex-husband in 1999, and the day we got engaged in 2003. Instead of facing the reality of this, I decided to escape. I went to a friend’s house. There were Old Fashioneds and champagne and lots of talking and laughing. I love my friends. I love wearing sequined dresses and boots and staying out late. I’m the introvert you have to shove out the door to go home.

Which I did at 3 a.m.

Oh, did I mention my first race of the year was New Year’s Day? Maybe it was my passive aggressive way of rebelling–yes, I can be a serious runner AND still have fun–but it was sheer stupidity. I felt miserable. I ended up within my coach’s goal range and with a PR, but I KNOW I could have done more. I was 6th place age group. 18th overall female. How close was I to top 3? To top 10? I’m SO CLOSE, and I’m HINDERING MYSELF.

That experience made me think long and hard at my goals and habits. How long can I keep scraping by, knowing I had an extra thirty seconds in me, but I stayed out until 3 a.m.? Or had a couple of glasses of wine the night before? Or was starving at midnight and ate half a bag of tortilla chips? Or got tired of staying in and cooking healthy food and had shitty Mexican the day before an important run or race? And what do all these things mean cumulatively if I *really* want to achieve my running goals? Can my body really take nine more weeks of two steps forward, one step back? Of keeping a good habit for three days and thinking it’s sufficient for what I want to do? How long do I keep hanging on to these extra five pounds because I “deserve” a night out or cheese dip or an extra glass of wine or half a chocolate bar? How long do I keep self-sabotaging my sleep because I just *have* to catch up on the Mindy Project on my DVR or binge-watch whatever show on Netflix or can’t stop checking my Instagram feed or I *need* to get to whatever restaurant opening or party or event? If I’m losing thirty seconds in a four mile race, what kind of time will I cost myself over 26.2 miles?

Setting goals is scary. Knowing you can achieve them is even scarier. The work to get there–the scariest of all.

I know this–I’m all in.