In May of 2011, I ran a half marathon in horrible weather averaging slightly less than 11 minutes per mile. In 2013, I ran a 7 minute mile and regularly ran for 90 minutes straight at an 8 mile per minute pace. Tonight I ran for 36 straight minutes at a 12 mile per minute pace. I’m most proud of tonight’s run.
“It’s humbling to start fresh. It takes a lot of courage. But it can be reinvigorating. You just have to put your ego on a shelf and tell it to be quiet.” – Jennifer Ritchie Payette
For the past two weeks, I’ve been trying to run for a half hour continuously. I haven’t been able to do it because my legs have gotten tired. Actually, that’s not completely correct. My legs have gotten tired because I’ve started out at the 8 mile per minute pace and lost steam rapidly. It seems like common sense, but after my knee injury, I’m not going to be able to start right where I left off. What I used to do doesn’t matter. The only thing that matters is getting better today.
As I was running, I was thinking about this in other areas of weight loss. I have a friend who hits a certain weight, becomes uncomfortable, and begins dieting and exercising. He then hits a weight where he’s comfortable and slacks off. This cycle repeats itself over and over. He’s asked me multiple times how to deal with this and I haven’t had a good answer until now. I haven’t had a good answer because I’m the exact same way. But the answer is pretty simple: I have to accept that yesterday didn’t happen.
What this means is that whether yesterday was a good day or a bad day has no effect on what I do today. I can only control what happens today. If I’m on a business trip, I can control what I eat, whether I exercise, and how much I drink. What I can’t control is if I ate poorly, failed to exercise, and had too much to drink the day before. I also can’t control if I ate well, exercised, and didn’t drink any alcohol the day before. Can I learn from each situation? Does it matter? Not today.
It’s true that in order to lose weight—or accomplish anything of substance—that you have to string multiple days of doing the wise thing together. But you can’t get to 2 days without getting to 1 or to 3 without getting to 2. Whatever happened yesterday is irrelevant to what happens today. It’s great that you’ve lost 10 pounds in June, but that doesn’t have anything to do with whether you’ll lose weight in July. And I used to be able to run a mile in 7 minutes or run a half marathon, but I can’t anymore. It doesn’t matter that I used to be able to do those things. Two weeks ago, I couldn’t run for 30 minutes straight at a relatively slow pace. Two weeks ago, that really frustrated me. But I had to stop focusing on what I used to be able to do and instead focus on getting better. Today, I got better. Tomorrow, that doesn’t matter.