Summer. It’s a magnificent season, with long vacations, splashy pools, swirly frozen yogurt, and sharp-cracking baseball bats. All easy things to embrace, no?
It is not always such an easy season in which to embrace running. Sure, you have lots of daylight hours and you can get a good tan out there, but man does air-conditioning get cozy. And flip-flops are so much airier than running shoes.
More frequently than I care to admit, I come home from work these days really, really wanting to just lie down and take a nap. Or relax on my couch, turn on the TV, and watch other people doing athletic things during the Olympic Trials and Tour de France. The other day, my car’s thermometer said 101 degrees when I climbed in after work, and when I got home after 20 minutes of driving with the air-conditioner blasting, it said 104. How does that even happen??
My point is, when the world is in vacation mode, it’s easy to skip workouts. And so I’ve developed what I call the “Pour One Out” rule.
I can’t remember if I came up with the Pour One Out rule in the middle of a long run or after a liberal quantity of wine. It could’ve been either. Anyway, it goes like this: on days when you suffer from an acute lack of motivation, think of a person or people in your life who you know would give anything to be able to run. Maybe you know someone who’s sick, or injured, or someone who has to work late. Maybe you know a brand-new runner-mom who’s recovering from the ultramarathon known as childbirth. Think of that person, and run one mile for them. Just one, at whatever pace you want. Then see how you feel after that, and proceed from there. You’ll have gotten at least a little exercise, and if you still don’t feel like running, you can call it a day. Want a sneaky Jillian Michaels-style option? Run the one mile out, so you have to run another mile to return home.
If you complete the first mile and can’t decide whether to keep going, just think of other people who could use a mile poured out for them. Chances are you know more than one. For the past couple of weeks, when I’ve been internally whining about the heat in Albuquerque, I tell that inner whiner to hush, and remind myself that about five hours north up I-25 in Colorado Springs, countless runners sit restlessly at home or are confined to treadmills because of smoke, ash, and Lord knows what else in the air. Instead of cursing the heat as I run along, I’m grateful for the chance to be running outside, period. Do I still fantasize about finding a lemonade…or margarita…stand during my run? Well, yeah. But with a little perspective, sweat and dust and a parched throat lose some of their swagger.
Next time the force that is summertime, or any other force, has you locked in its tractor beam and tries to keep you from running, try just pouring one out for the people who can’t be there. It will make whatever drink you pour out for yourself afterwards taste even better.