14th May 2020
How My 5am Running Habit Developed My Grit
Recently we have been exposed to Angela Duckworth’s findings of Grit. In her TED sharing, she said “Grit is living life like it’s a marathon, not a sprint.”
Grit is living life like it’s a marathon, not a sprint.”
It is never farther from the truth. I have started to run on a regular basis since 5 months ago and would strongly attest to this. For those who had studied in the Singapore local schools, you would have been required to complete NAPFA (National Physical Fitness Award) test every year and one of the test components is to complete a 2.4km run.
Since secondary school days, I had never enjoyed these 2.4km runs and perhaps due to my poor stamina, I would barely scrap through to meet the passing score of 20 min through incessant stops and walks. It was until when I turned 18 years old and my weight ballooned uncontrollably due to unhealthy diets and incessant snackings at night that I had to turn to running to lose weight. Back then I shed 7kg in 2 months and I remembered vividly that it was due to religious self-discipline of checking myself into the gym twice a week and forcing myself to run on that treadmill to produce that positive outcome.
I regained the habit of running few months ago. Back then I was preparing for this big career transition from my corporate HR role into my new role as a Financial Consultant in the insurance industry. This was an extremely daunting challenge ahead and I knew that only with an extraordinary positive mindset then I can pull it off successfully.
Therefore I decided to combine the two activities which I disliked the most and turned it into a regular habit to be inculcated into my life.
Waking up early (5am daily)
In my previous article, What Happened When I Start to Wake up at 5am Daily for 3 Month, I had clocked a running mileage of 100km over a period of 3 months through my 5am morning runs. Overcoming the laziness and procrastination bugs were not easy. Firstly to inculcate and consistently following through the daily routine of waking up at 5am was already a big challenge that I had to overcome. I am a sleep-lover and used to wake up at 7am with the help of 3 different alarm clock timings of 6:00am, 6:30am and 7:00am.
Next it was the regular running routine that I had to get adjusted to. I remembered when I first started to run, the furthest I could run without any stops would be 1.2km. I simply continued persistently by adhering to my own self-defined meaning of Success:
Being Successful means that I am Better than Who I was Yesterday…
Gradually I began to build up enough stamina to complete 2.4km, 3.2km to eventually 5km without having to stop for breath. The timings gradually improved each time during that initial few months. When I was finally able to complete a 5km run within a comfortable 34 minutes, I began to stretch myself further by putting the Growth Mindset into practice.
So I decided to again step up, get out of my own comfort zone and thrust myself back into the state of discomfort. This time I told myself that I would do a 10km run. And my maiden attempt of 10km was exactly an re-enactment of my other maiden runs. The same old tussle between the mind versus the body. I remembered vividly that at the 7km milestone, my leg calves and hips were aching. The mind was telling the body to simply stop and give up. Stop torturing myself. However I would tell myself that I would already know how it would feel to give up. But on the other hand, what would happen if I continue to persist till the end?
Prior to going out for this 10km run, I had already anticipated that my mind might take over and give up. Hence I had deliberately left home penniless and without any ability to take any form of public transportation. It was a strategic tactical pre-empt move from my end because I knew that if I had any “Plan B”, it would be really tempting for me to just hop on a bus to go home. On the other hand, without any money, I would be left with only 2 options at the juncture of giving up. The first option would be to obviously walk home the remaining distance of 3km but that would take me at least 45 minutes. The other option would be to keep on running and that would take me half the time required. I knew myself well enough that I would rather suck it up and run back home rather than waste 20 minutes to stroll back home.
In the last few km, I kept envisioning the end point and the sense of accomplishment, and the euphoria of completing the run. I just kept relishing those feelings. How proud I would be of myself and the below quote sums it all:
To conclude, running has taught me the simplest and most fundamental rule of life. That is NEVER GIVE UP.
As long as we continue to put one foot ahead of the other, keep going, you would finish the tough course in your life eventually. Nothing lasts forever, including the pain and fatigue. But the feeling of you overcoming your own mental limiting beliefs would instead stretch you and bring you ahead to lead a life complete with happiness and purpose.
In November 2017, I would be doing my inaugural 21km run. Cheer for me, would you?
14th May 2020