Posts Tagged ‘Inertia’

4:10 AM – the alarm on my phone goes off – a mix of a loud snoring sound and the phone vibrating on my nightstand.

4:10 AM.


Am I really gonna do this?  Do I really WANT to do this?

10 miles?  Really?  It’s 30° outside.

It’s cold.

It’s dark.

I could just hit the snooze…or better yet, just go back to sleep until 6:45.

Sleep is good right?  We all need sleep, don’t we?  Maybe I’ll just close my eyes…


I’d rather be sleeping….but then who’s gonna run these miles?
– My post on Facebook at 4:12AM


As I covered my 10 miles during the predawn hours this morning, I realized just how good I felt being out there on the road.

Yes, it was early.
Yes, it was dark.
Yes, it was cold.

But I felt great.  Despite my apathy at 4:10AM when the alarm went off, throughout my run I. Felt. Great!

I talk a lot on this blog about inertia.  It is one of the strongest fundamental principles of physics – a body in motion tends to stay in motion, a body at rest tends to stay at rest.  I believe it also is a fundamental principle of the human condition.  One of the most difficult things for us as humans to do is to change our inertia – couch potatoes rarely get off of the couch.  Compulsive exercisers rarely stop – for fear that they might not get going again.

The key, for those of us in the middle, is to understand that inertia is real and that to go from rest to motion, we must go through what I like to call the “Toughest Ten Minutes of the Day”.  It’s those ten minutes of putting on the shorts and shoes, walking out the door and moving that in all likelihood is the hardest part of your workout…unless maybe you’re doing hill sprints, but that’s a different kind of tough.  No matter what your workout is going to be, no matter how physically demanding, the key is overcoming the mental hurdle – the anticipation of the pain or burn, the expectation of the cold air, the knowledge that this could take a couple of hours, the call of your pillow, comforter or couch.

That ten minutes before your run can be the most difficult part of your workout.  Unlike a job you may not like, you are not getting paid to run.  Unlike a class you are dreading, you are not paying to attend.  In both cases you have the extra motivation of dollars to show up.  Unless you are Ryan Hall, Kara Goucher or the like, you are not getting paid to run.  The motivation has to come from within. You have to fight that feeling that maybe I’ll just sit here instead for this workout.

I promise you, if you can overcome those toughest ten minutes of the day, whether in the predawn hours, midday or late at night, the payoff is well worth it.

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I got two hours of sleep on Monday night.  There was no good reason really.  I turned out the light at around 11:30 and then proceeded to toss and turn for then next two and a half hours.  When the alarm went off at 4AM, I hesitated briefly before rolling out of bed.  9 miles later I was ready to start the day.

Tuesday night I was up past midnight.  This time, there was good reason.  A friend had turned 50 and we were out celebrating.  Again, when the alarm went off at 4AM, I hesitated before rolling out of bed.  Several Stoli Doleys and beer definitely had taken their toll.  Still, I forced myself down the stairs and 11 miles later, I was again ready to start the day.

And again, last night, for no good reason, after falling asleep around 10 or so, I woke up close to midnight and couldn’t sleep for a couple of hours.  When the alarm went off at 4AM, I really thought about putting off “just this one workout”.  Instead, I dragged myself down the stairs and 11 miles later, I was ready to start the day.

In all three cases before I put one foot in front of the other, all I wanted to do was reset the alarm for two hours later and go back to sleep (forget the snooze button!).  Wednesday’s morning run brought the additional bonus of feeling slightly woozy and hung over.


I don’t tell you the mundane details of my training to a.)let you know what I’m doing or b.) toot my own horn.


The reason I share this is because of what happened after I started.  Each run started with stiff legs and a groggy head.  Each looked to be headed for a miserable time, either due to lack of sleep or the effects of vodka, beer and pineapple juice.  But each run turned around quickly.  As tired as I was, within a few mile, my mind was alert and the legs loose.

There was a pep in my step.

Jess says that I often look very self-satisfied in morning when I come back upstairs to shower after my early morning runs.

You know what?  Even on so little sleep, I am.  I am self-satisfied.

The blood flow, the endorphins, the miles banked and the knowledge that I’m over 1,000 calories in the hole add up to a very self-satisfying feeling.  And that feeling generally lasts all day.  Maybe that’s why I have a resting pulse of 38 – I’m happy and relaxed.

But there’s a price to be paid to get to that happy and relaxed state.  You must battle inertia every morning.  You must battle the urge to hit the snooze button and roll back over to go to sleep.  You must battle the first few mile to reach that flow.

At 4AM that price looks like $1,000,000.00, but if you can get through it, you realize in retrospect that the price was a.)more like $1 and b.) well worth it.

I don’t normally go on only 2 – 4 hours of sleep a night.  Usually it’s about 5 – 6, but what this week reminded me of was that running, or any exercise for that matter, can be just as energizing as sleep.  You just have to be willing to fight through the inertia.

Did you pay the price this morning?

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Why do you run?

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Definition –

the property of matter by which it retains its state of rest or its velocity along a straight line so long as it is not acted upon by an external force.

It’s been a week since Providence, 3 since Boston and 6 since the Eastern States 20. Despite, or rather because of the 3 races, I have essentially been in a state of constant tapering for about a month and a half.

I miss running.

Yes, I’ve run the races, enjoyed the crowds and had a lot of fun. But I miss the miles. I ran only 82 miles in April. I know that’s nearly 20 miles a week and for many people that’s a lot, BUT compare that to the 160 I ran in January and 210 I ran in March, and you can see how it might feel a little light. It’s all a matter of perspective, I know. So now that the big races are over, it’s time to ramp it up again, right?

Well, it should be, but there’s a problem. There’s this thing I’m fighting. A universal law that is very, very powerful. It’s called inertia, and I’ll tell you right now, it’s very hard to fight.

Now I know I just put up a post about downsizing, but that was more about the races I chose to run rather than the monthly miles.

I WANT to run. I do. But I’m finding it hard to make the time. That’s really all it takes. I just need to make the time, but right now, I’m finding it very hard to do so. Don’t get me wrong. The time is there. I could get up early, I could stay up late, I could stop sitting in front of the computer typing away on Run Luau Run and make the time. It’s just that I haven’t. It’s almost as if that taper that started at the end of March doesn’t want to stop. And unfortunately, the Taper has the universe on it’s side. Inertia is a real pain in the ass.

So this week I will fight the universal laws and I will drag my butt outside and just do it. The amazing thing about inertia is that it works both ways. That’s why tapering is so hard to begin with, right? So I’ve just got to build up a little momentum and inertia should take care of the rest. There’s gotta be a few other things in my life that I could apply this science to. Maybe I could finally start writing that book. Force myself to write for two weeks and inertia can take care of the rest.

It’s time to run. Here I go…right now…see me going?…what’s that? Celtics highlights are on Sportscenter? Maybe I’ll go afterward…

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Full Disclosure So I actually wrote this post about an hour before I picked up my new Vibram Bikila’s. They should definitely help me motivate!

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