Running a race alone at a track meet is pretty embarrassing. To help lose weight1 I joined the track team my senior year of high school. At our first indoor meet I was chosen to anchor for the 400 meter relay. Every other team had completed their relays before my turn even started. I started my solo lap with dead silence and finished to roaring laughter2.
The girls team was a different story. Instead of embarrassing themselves they won events and set DCIAA records.
What was the difference?
The difference between the boys and girls team can be summed up in 3 words: they showed up. The girls team showed up to practice consistently, and they showed up to meets consistently.
The boys team did not3. At most practices I was the only boy there. At many of the meets they boys team had to forfeit because not enough of us showed up.
The Secret to Failure?
One of the lessons I took away from my time on the track team was the secret of failure. When you don’t show up you guarantee failure, and in sports they call it a forfeit. Fitness is exactly the same: the only guarantee is that if you do not show up you lose no matter how good your story is.
Secret of Success?
The real quote from Woodey Allen on showing up is this: I have learned one thing. As Woody says, ‘Showing up is 80 percent of life.’ Sometimes it’s easier to hide home in bed. I’ve done both.
I would go so far as to say that showing up is 100% of success in fitness. The math isn’t quite right because you can’t 100% guarantee success, but nothing can go right if you don’t show up.
Feelings Aren’t Facts
Years ago a therapist taught me this mantra to help me be less impulsive – something to say to myself so that my feelings didn’t completely run my life.
Many times we wait to do important things until we “feel like it” or we “feel motivated”. The truth is that this is backwards, and the result of not understanding the proper place of motivation and confusing it with inspiration.
Feelings are fickle.
Don’t Argue With Yourself
The most important thing I can say about consistency is don’t argue with yourself. Arguing with yourself on an off day is like arguing with a 2 year old – it’s pointless, exhausting and frustrating.
Focus on Starting
Instead of arguing, acknowledge your feelings and move your feet. Just get started with step #1. You can only eat a whale one bite at a time, and on off days working our can look like a whale. Chop it up and just take that first bite.
Once you get started you will feel better and you will have momentum. After you start it’s easier to take the next step, the next and the next.
Today probably won’t be your best workout ever, and that is OK. Some days you just punch the clock and get something very mediocre done, but those mediocre workouts matter more than the great days because there are more of them.
Success is about consistency not quick fixes. Success is about just showing up.
Need help showing up? We’ll be your team. Learn more here.
- Running usually is not a very good activity for weight loss because of the pounding. I couldn’t complete the season because I got a stress fracture in my foot half way through. Running a mile is 750 reps per leg with 4-6x body weight on a single leg. I was pushing 220 when I started track, and that was probably just too much stress.
- When you are the only one on the track you can’t tell yourself that the crowd might be laughing at someone else.
- How come the boys didn’t get kicked off the team? Because it was a very small academic high school with a 3:1 girl:boy ratio… so, there were so few boys that the coach didn’t feel he could kick any on of the boys off the team.