The toughest part of any new goal is the FIRST step. Running goals included.
We talk ourselves out of training for a race before we even begin. That’s because we are programmed for survival, not discomfort. Pushing outside of our comfort zone creates stress. We then perceive stress as a threat to our survival.
So it’s natural to talk oneself out of training. Our brain wants to keep us safe. That’s the primary reason why starting a new challenge is difficult.
Stress can come from anywhere. Whether it’s the stress on your body from running, the anxiety from the judgment of others, or the fear of failing to reach the finish line. But whichever stress your mind creates it all boils down to fear, and we rationalize that it’s safer not to begin at all.
So how do you break past the mental prison you may have created? Well, it takes a lot of energy. It takes energy to break down the physical and mental barriers that hold us back from our dreams. The start of any goal ALWAYS requires the most effort.
Did you know that when a space rocket launches, 90% of its energy and fuel is used up during the takeoff? The rocketship must smash through the earth’s atmosphere and push against the enormous force of gravity until it reaches space!
But guess what? Once it reaches the earth’s outer limits, flying becomes effortless taking far less energy.
This same basic concept applies to when we run. Once you get moving and begin the act of running, our distance goal becomes much easier.
Why does it become easier?
Running becomes easier because we tap into the secret power of the endurance world. The power of MOMENTUM.
The Power Of Momentum
What Is Momentum?
Momentum is defined as the strength or force gained by motion.
You often hear the word used in sports. A team said to have the “momentum” is moving forward on their opponent like an NFL team driving for a touchdown. So stopping the team with momentum will take a lot of effort.
Here’s another way to view momentum. Remember when you were a kid and played on a merry-go-round with your friends? At a standstill, a full merry-go-round was tough to move. But the more you pushed it, the easier it became. Soon you could barely keep up, so you jumped on and spun around in circles with your friends.
Then to keep the momentum alive, as it would slow, you jumped off and gave it another push before it reached a full stop.
Momentum in your running is the same way. The first few steps are always the toughest. But as any seasoned runner can tell you, once you get into a groove, your run becomes much easier.
The key is not to stop even if you must slow down or walk. Try to continue moving forward no matter what. Avoid a standstill at all cost because the farther the run, the more effort it takes to get going again.
In ultramarathon running, we say, “beware of the chair”. When you stop moving during an ultramarathon, you become weak, stiff, and tired. You lose your running momentum and starting back up takes a substantial amount of energy.
Momentum can also apply to a new training program when attempting to run a further distance. The first few weeks can be difficult and even be discouraging. But the farther you progress, the easier the act of running becomes.
Why does it become easier? Running becomes easier because you tap into the secret power of momentum!
Tap Into The Secret
Take the common analogy of using a hand-pump on a water well. Picture a pump connected to a pipe. The pipe travels approximately 30 feet into the ground to reach water. You will have to pump a lever to create the suction that will bring the water to ground level. From ground level the water will travel through the spout, and into your bucket.
When most people begin pumping (running) they are full of enthusiasm and fully committed to getting water (results).
They pump with all their might but see no water. Meaning, they run with all their heart, but they don’t become any faster or gain any real endurance. Running remains difficult and painful.
So what do they do? They give up pumping. They stop training and think running is going to be that difficult forever. If they are after instant results and don’t see them, quitting becomes the only options.
But some people stay optimistic and continue further. Eventually, after more pumping, they see a few drops of water. Meaning, they see a few incremental results. Perhaps their pace quickens, or they run a little longer with less effort. But after all their work they think “Seriously!? I’ve been running for a month, and that’s it?” “A few crumby seconds?” “All this pumping and only a few drops!?
Unfortunately here is where a significant amount of potential runners throw in the towel.
But some people continue running. They trust their instincts and move forward. They don’t see the few droplets as small results; they see it as evidence that they are capable of pumping water. They catch on to the power of running momentum and keep pumping, yes, they keep running.
Soon they understand that if they keep pumping, they will eventually get a full flow of water! That is, if they keep running they will see the results they desire.
Once there’s a steady flow of water it takes far less effort to continue pumping. Halfway through your run is much easier than the start and eight weeks into a 16-week training program is much more comfortable than the first week. The more endurance you build, the less effort it takes. For myself, that’s how one day a marathon was a lifelong achievement, and now it’s a day of speed training. I don’t say that to impress you; I say that to press UPON you that YES it’s possible and YES you can do it too!
Pushing yourself to get dressed, out the door, and begin running is where most of the effort is used. Remember the rocket ship? Once you smash through gravity flying takes far less effort. In running, once you start moving you catch a groove and float through the miles. Sure, it’s still challenging but, the more you push yourself the more endurance you gain. And the more endurance you gain, the more you’re pulled to run. Eventually, instead of finding excuses not to run, you look for excuses to run.
Our training programs work the same way. The beginning of a new training program for a new distance is the toughest part. But once you get past the first month or so, running momentum kicks into gear.
And here’s the good news, there’s a technique to start gaining momentum before you begin to run. This way you can hit the ground running! All you need to do is PRIME THE PUMP.
Prime The Pump
So how do we make the start of our run or the beginning of our training program easier? Simple, prime the pump!
I explain the concept in How To Become A Better Runner: 7 Tips For Instant Improvement. I say the following…
So let me guess, your day goes something like this: You wake up and SIT down on the edge of your bed. You go downstairs and SIT down for breakfast. You SIT on the drive to work and SIT at your desk all morning. You SIT down for lunch, SIT the rest of the afternoon at work, and SIT on the way home. You SIT and eat dinner, SIT and watch TV, SIT scrolling through social media, and SIT with your kids. You may SIT at the computer, or SIT and do work, or SIT and do some planning.
Then when it’s time for a run you say, “I’m tired… I don’t feel like going for a run.”
That’s because you need to move!!!!!
Movement creates more movement. Movement creates energy. Movement creates life!
People who don’t move aren’t people at all. They are rocks!
Are you a rock?
No, so get up and move!
Take the steps, go for walks, and stand up more. Get up and have a random midday dance party! Focus on moving every bone of your body as much as possible through your day.
You know why I always get the best parking spot? It’s because I park in the back and walk. Small healthy habits add up and compound into a better quality of life.
If you’re tired, don’t reach for the sugar, reach for the sky! Get up and jump! Once you gain some momentum, keep it going, and then, go home! Your kids or significant other will think you went crazy!
Now, when you go for your run, the pump is already primed, and you will soar through those miles. You will zip through your training program with a smile on your face ready to race.
So why move throughout your day? It helps you develop running momentum before you go out for a run. Or if you run in the morning, a brisk walk or meditation will also help.
Now, once you have a full stream of water, it still takes work. But it takes far less effort if you stay consistent. Give the lever a pump every so often but keep the water flowing, do not stop. The longer you stop running, the harder it becomes. So stay consistent!
Run With Consistency
Although it takes less effort to pump the lever for your desired water flow, you must still be CONSISTENT. A steady and consistent pump allows a steady and consistent flow of water.
But if you stop pumping long enough and the water falls back into the ground, then you start back at the beginning.
So guess what happens if you try to pump the lever with little effort? Yes, you guessed right, NO WATER! You have completely lost your running momentum and must put in a significant amount of effort to get it back.
The problem for some runners is they pump (run) really hard to get the water (results) flowing but then stop pumping (running) for a while. They work hard to increase their endurance but lose focus and direct their energy elsewhere.
So now when they come back to running, it takes an enormous amount of effort to get their endurance back to par. Here’s when some people will say running is hard. They become stuck in a vicious cycle. They stop running and then return to running over and over again. So each time they return it takes a substantial amount of physical and mental energy. They never benefit from the secret power of the endurance world: MOMENTUM!
But here’s the good news, the farther you can run, the longer it takes to lose endurance. You are actually rewarded for the distance you can run! And that’s the real reward, you forever change the energy in your body ultimately increasing your entire quality of life.
Consistency is one of the most critical principles of running, period.
Let’s Bring It Home
Although momentum is intangible, we must trust that it’s not only there, but it’s there to help us.
Many of the magnificence our world has to offer is from invisible forces. Momentum, adaption, love, faith, dreams, you name it. So don’t focus on what you can see, focus on what you can be.
Remember, the more momentum you have, the more momentum you develop. The energy of momentum feeds itself! So while it can be slow at first, in no time momentum grows exponentially!
That’s one of the reasons someone can go from walking a hill to climbing a mountain. Or how I’ve gone from running a few miles on a treadmill to 116 miles across the state of Florida. Or how you’ve traveled along the path of your running journey that brought you here.
With understanding the power of momentum, you will start noticing it in your everyday life. You will see how it affects all of your goals. Whether in business, serving others, parenthood, school, and the list goes on. I see it in my writing all the time. Momentum is one of the reasons I was able to start LongRunLiving.com as well as publish my book The Ultramarathon Guide: A Simple Approach To Running Your First Ultramarathon. The more I write, the easier it flows.
The point is momentum is powerful, and with the understanding of it, you will reach your running goals in no time. Momentum is always available when you run. There’s always one more mile to run, one more second to cut, one more finish line to cross.
Momentum is a runner’s best friend. Sometimes it can be the difference between reaching your running dreams and giving up on them entirely.
So stand up! Remember the rocket ship, remember the merry-go-round, and remember the water pump. Tap into the secret power of the endurance world and reach the finish line not only with the appreciation for finishing but with the eagerness to run longer! Congratulations, you now have the power…the power of MOMENTUM!
REMEMBER…once you get moving and begin the act of running, our distance goal becomes much easier!
Ready to smash through YOUR atmosphere and push against the enormous force preventing you from reaching space? If so, click the image of my book below and start training for your first 50k TODAY!
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