Are you sitting down? I’ve got a pretty shocking revelation.
I ran every morning last week. Yep, every single one of those stupid cold mornings.
No, I don’t know what happened to me either. Probably some hormonal imbalance or something, I don’t know. One minute I was chatting along with a friend about this and that and then one thing led to another and I was agreeing to run every day for the following six days for free pizza. Not just any free pizza – Sal’s pizza which, as everyone knows, is the best pizza that has ever existed and I am someone with high standards, who doesn’t go for junk like Pizza Hut (just kidding, I have no standards, especially when it comes to getting free stuff).
All I know is that I spent over two years setting my alarm for 6:03 so I could get a run in before going to work and failed all but about 3 out of those 400+ attempts. It didn’t matter how much motivational stuff I read, nothing seemed to be able to get me out of bed. It became a running joke at home (hahahaha, “running joke”, I’m hilarious) and I had given up on any chance of ever creating this habit.
But along came the Great Pizza Bet of 2013 and my life changed forever (or potentially just for a week, the jury’s still out).
Let’s scrutinise this whole ordeal because this thing was hard and I haven’t bragged about it enough yet (although I’m sure some of the people I speak to IRL would beg to differ. But they can get their own damn blogs). I decided to document the experiment just for you:
Day 1 (Sunday): Running is the last thing I feel like doing (stuff I probably shouldn’t write on a running blog), but I drag myself out of the house in the late afternoon for a 5k. I figure if I am going to have a shot at this thing, I probably shouldn’t fail right on the first day.
Day 2 (Monday): Knowing I won’t be able to run in the evening due to some resemblance of social life, I decide to try to run in the morning. We all know how my attempts at morning running have ended before so I can’t say I like my chances… but then morning comes around, the alarm goes off and, after hitting the snooze button only once instead of the usual 23 times, I actually get out of bed. Once recovered from the shock, I run 5k and come back home in time to get ready for work. I spend the day feeling pretty smug about the accomplishment. I must be high on endorphins because I announce to my friend that I am upping the bet and, instead of just six consecutive days of running, I was going to do six consecutive days of running with five consecutive morning runs.
Day 3 (Tuesday): I have an event in the evening that involves running a lap of the Peace Mile in the Auckland Domain but the bet rules clearly stated that each run had to be at least 5k long. Peter, who I made the crazy bet with, runs every goddamn morning so offers to text me to wake me up (he has such little confidence I can do it he thinks he can offer some help and still win this thing). I ignore the text for about ten minutes but then start thinking about how he is out there running and I am in bed being lazy (but also warm). Very much against my will and against everything I believe in, I get out of bed and go for a run. Another day of feeling pretty proud of myself for it, especially considering I have to get back into running gear after work for the Peace Mile. Apparently I’m now the kind of person who runs twice in one day. But whatever, yolo right?
Day 4 (Wednesday): I ask Peter to text me again and at 6:45am he does. I don’t ignore the text this time and, instead, get up and ready to run. For some weird reason, my body feels like it is adjusting to this new morning running thing, and only three days into it. I am two days away from free pizza but, by this stage, that’s not the only motivation anymore. Other weird stuff is happening:
Day 5 (Thursday): No text from Peter. I wonder if he’s feeling threatened now. I get up and run, unprompted. The crazy thing? I don’t even really have to, if I want to just abide by the original rules of the bet. I have a scheduled 10k night trail this evening so the morning 5k is just torture I choose to inflict upon myself. Except it isn’t torture and I actually enjoy it. Things are starting to get really bizarre now.
Day 6 (Friday): Following on a long line of good lifestyle choices, I stay up until 3am getting some work done (don’t feel sorry – I stayed up until 3 because I started working at 2) so don’t really like my chances of getting out of bed for a run. But it is the final day of the Great Pizza Bet of 2013 and I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this but I really freaking love pizza. The only thing I love more than pizza is free pizza and, this morning, I am a mere 5k away from getting exactly that. I am so exhausted when the alarm goes off that I hit snooze and decide that I’m just going to admit defeat and pay for my own pizza. Luckily, the courier comes around and forces me to get up to open the door so my running streak lives another day and my honor remains intact (well, ish). The weather is crappier than it has been all week and my hands are freezing (if I’m going to get up to run in the morning, I only have time to get into shorts and a singlet, there’s no time to think about sensible things like long sleeves or running gloves). But I power through, on my less than 5 hours of sleep. Then I spend the day trying not to fall asleep (and nearly failing a few times). But that’s okay because, on the other side of the these five consecutive morning runs, I scored a free pizza. HASHTAG WINNING.
I got more than free pizza out of the Great Pizza Bet of 2013, though. I may have actually created a habit. Or at least created the possibility of something eventually becoming a habit (with a little bit extra effort). It turns out, all it takes is some bribery. Some pepperoni-filled bribery.
I don’t think it would have worked out so well if it had been just about the pizza, though (sorry, pizza). The realisation that morning runs turned me into a productivity machine during the day was a massive incentive to keep this going. I can’t be bothered hitting the googles to find out if there’s any actual science behind this but my empirical evidence suggests that starting the day off with a run makes you around about 349% more productive. That is, assuming you sleep longer than 5 hours the previous night.
And then there are the sunrises, those damn fine things that I keep missing out on. And the feeling that you’ve already achieved something before your day has even properly started.
But also, free pizza. Who cares about any of the rest, really?
(I realise that the fact that the possibility of a giant free pizza was the only thing that got me into morning running sends this blog a further 3405 light years away from the healthy living blogs category. I swear I looked but couldn’t find a shit to give. )