Playing Chess Against Myself

The first day of winter is Thursday, December 21st. That means I have 100 days to run at least 100 miles. This is Angela's fault.

She created a community on Facebook to support this goal of 100 miles before Winter. This is what she posted today: "Alright, runners, walkers, and rollers! Beginning tomorrow, Monday, September 11, we are bound together by this common goal: Use our bodies to move 100 miles by the first day of winter, Thursday, December 21. Wherever we we go! All are welcome to post, add inspirational goodness, and post the number of miles you've conquered each week. We all agree to uplift, encourage, and go the distance. On your marks! Get set! GOOOOOOOO!"

Post-thunderstorm sunset in Palo Alto.

Post-thunderstorm sunset in Palo Alto.

Challenge accepted. I started off strong -- ten miles today. It completely drained me and I'm already sore, but I knew I needed to kill it today. I've got a couple weeks before classes start and life gets crazy and excuses become easy. For me, running -- and exercise in general -- is mental warfare with myself. I will create all the excuses in the world, some of them even good: I didn't get enough sleep last night, it's too hot today, it's too rainy today, I'm too busy, I'm on the road, I've got more important things to do.

That's why I love challenges like this. The pressure is high. If I don't post on this blog once a day, I have objectively failed. Same is true if I don't run 100 miles before December 21. I thrive with finish lines, real and metaphorical. Don't we all? 

100 miles before December 21st. And I'm 10% of the way there on Day 1. 

10% is a good chunk. It's a big number. It gives me a mental edge for the rest of the challenge and virtually eliminates the possibility that I fail. Running 10 miles on Day 1 was a chess move against myself. It was to set myself up for success because I am a masterful negotiator when I'm negotiating with myself. I can get concessions left and right. I could see the internal dialogue playing out like this: "You are in the middle of a rigorous master's program, you're writing every single day, you've got commitments back in Oregon that are taking up a lot of your time, you're adjusting to a new place. Now is just not the right time for this."

Now is just not the right time for excuses.

As my friend Greg Evans would say, "Don't tell me no, tell me how."

Tonight I was feeling it. Stanford is so beautiful. There was a thunderstorm and rain showers today, which cooled things off. After the worst of it was gone, about an hour before sunset, I took off. A light breeze and a few gentle raindrops kept me cool, my favorite playlist kept my energy up, and Runkeeper kept me on pace.

I stopped a few times -- once because my shoe came untied, and several times at the end because it was dark, there were no streetlights, and I legitimately got lost and had to orient myself on my maps app. But my time was good and I felt good -- because my mindset is good right now. Mindset is so important. 

The real test will be in one, two, and three months, when the excuses start to sound compelling. But I'm in it now, I'm locked in for the long haul. 90 more miles til the finish line. 

If you want to jump in the challenge and get some support and encouragement from the community, let me know and I'll add you to the Facebook group.