Running Commitment

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The definition of commitment is “the state or quality of being dedicated to a cause, activity, etc.”

Whether it is running your first marathon with the goal of just making it to the finish line or a world-class racer in the Olympic Games, having a commitment level that matches required. Taking on something that’s outside our comfort zone is hard. If we are going to venture into that area of uncertainty, then having a commitment to the task is a necessity.

We just said that being committed means having a dedication to the activity, but what does that mean? Below My list of areas that would mean you are dedicated and thus committed.

  1. Persistence/consistency.
    Notice I didn’t say perfection. It has been overused a lot lately, but it is really about showing up, day after day, regardless of the outcome.
  2. Finding ways to overcome obstacles.
    When challenges arise or your schedule for the day gets turned upside down, do you find a way to get something done or is it an automatic- “Well, I guess today just wasn’t my day”
  3. Self-Discipline.
    If your time to run is in the morning, do you get it in, or do you convince yourself that you’ll magically have time to get that run in this afternoon?
  4. The mindset that failure will happen along the way.
    There’s two ways to interpret this. One is that failure will happen at some point of a difficult journey, but I will take the lessons from this and apply to the next time. The second is just assuming that failure will happen because that’s just how things usually work out for you that way.
  5. Appropriate goals.
    Do your goals line up with what your training will allow? With  some of my athletes, they want to run the fast times, but their schedules are not aligned with what they want to accomplish. Setting too easy of a goal can lead to lethargic action. Too big of a goal can lead to frustration and becoming overwhelmed- leading into shutdown mode.

The beauty of everything I just listed is that they can all be worked on. Here are my 5 keys to developing a higher level of commitment.

  1. Find your why/meaning for taking on the task.
    When I started running, the reason was simple. I wasn’t allowed to play football, but I loved sports- especially baseball. Luckily, my algebra teacher was also the freshman football coach (Mr. Pearl). He made it simple- “Humphrey, you aren’t playing football. You’ll get killed. Go to talk to Mr. Noll and run cross country.” So, that’s what I did. Have you ever had a moment in life where you just knew that’s where you were supposed to be or doing? That was one for me. I just remember having this feeling like, I’m home. Now, I am not saying that you need an epiphany, or an enlightenment! I am saying though that you need to know why you do it. Maybe it’s because it makes you a better person, spouse, parent, boss, employee, or some combination of those things! Maybe it allows you to make you feel like you still have limits to chase or adventures to take on. Whatever the case is, understand the why. Even as I close in on a new category (the masters!) I love the challenge of training hard and seeing what I am capable of. I love being an example for my athletes and my kid.
  2. Enjoy what you do.
    I thoroughly enjoy what I do. Not 100% of the time, that’s not even close to being realistic. However, even the days that are a grind are way better than the days that I don’t get a run in. I feel better afterwards and in a much better space. If you don’t enjoy what you are doing on your best days, it makes it tough to want to keep doing it day in and day out. If you find yourself dreading lacing up your shoes for an early morning run, then maybe revisit #1 and find a firm answer in your why. If you can’t, maybe start seeking out what you really enjoy doing.
  3. Become committed to the process.
    Many times people are committed to results and seeing results early on spurs the desire to train hard. But, what if you start seeing a plateau? Is the desire still there. I was thinking about this, and maybe it’s the hack culture we live in today? I don’t know, but our attention spans are shorter these days and when something gets harder or we see a new shiny object, we abandon one pursuit for the next. Ultimately, I don’t know if anything is wrong with that. You certainly may experience a lot of new stuff. But using running as an example, we want to qualify for Boston. We get to within a few minutes but our performance has plateaued, what would you do? For me, early on, I probably would have just said train harder, right? But doing something repeatedly and getting the same results is literally the definition of insanity. So, when that doesn’t work, what next? Now, as I have gone through a career and coached for over a decade, I realize that it’s all about the process. We tend to put our training in a bubble and separate it from everything else in our lives. The truth is, if we commit to the process of getting better, we have limitless possibilities to chase in order to become better. When a person lets go of the results and focus more on the process, that’s when I usually see the biggest breakthroughs. Just like Elsa says, “Let it go!”
  4. Recognize that failures come with the territory, but does not mean you are a failure.
    Not hitting a tough workout, falling off routine, missing a goal are signs of pushing your comfort zones. These should be taken as signs of personal growth, not failure. Sure, be disappointed, but don’t dwell. Instead learn from these and sort out what could be done differently or if it’s just a situation of needing another crack at it. If we look at a failed situation as a reflection on ourselves, that’s pretty depressing. It’s hard to stay committed to something if it doesn’t make you feel very good.
  5. Set the right goals.
    This really encompasses everything we just discussed. Have you ever missed a goal, based on a result, and thought- “Dang, I really need to train harder!” Yet, what does that even mean? More miles? Faster workout? As a coach, I’d say it is usually both. So, what does the person do- they add more miles and more intensity which only causes a further setback and creates an endless loop of pushing ourselves beyond what’s needed, only to be disappointed, AGAIN! Doesn’t seem much like a winning combination, does it? Big weeks, and fast workouts make for great social media content, but are they what’s going to take you to the next level? Not if you don’t have the small sustained habits of hydration, sleep, nutrition, mobility, and strength down pat. If we put our success in the hands of a result, then you take the ability to control the outcome out of your hands. Finding a way to set goals based on what you need and not an uncontrollable outcome gives you power. Having power makes you more committed. Being more committed to the right things allows for a greater chance of success. Being successful in things we had control over makes us a lot more likely to continue on!

Do you feel like you are committed? Take the commitment quiz and see where you stand and where you can improve.

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