Passion Or Habit?

  
I read an article recently that suggested that 50% of people starting an exercise program will dropout within the first 6 months. I know, from experience, that this is accurate. I have had my fair share of fitness program dropouts throughout the years, that’s for sure. So what was it that made it stick this time? I really think it was just the fact that I was finally ready. I was finally ready to stop sitting around making excuses and start making it happen.

I decided to get fit at the age of 35. Ironically, at age 35 I had many more responsibilities than I did at 25, so why wasn’t I able to work in fitness at 25 as a newlywed with no kids? I genuinely feel that I had to decide for myself that I was finally ready. I had to commit to what I was doing and stick to my plan. I had to fight the urge to stop. I continue to fight this urge today, and I know that I am not alone. I know I am not alone because that is what social networking in regards to fitness is all about. It’s about encouraging and motivating each other and it is so very helpful to me.

  
I remember, vividly, those first several attempts at running. I remember I had my headphones and some music and I attempted to run for a whole two and a half minute song before I allowed myself to walk. I remember it took me several attempts before I could do it. I remember wondering if maybe running wasn’t for me. Maybe I wasn’t suited for it. I kept running, though, because it was an activity I could fit in around my work and children’s schedules. I kept going and I started feeling stronger and stronger as time went on. The day I was able to run three miles without stopping is still, honestly, one of the greatest accomplishments I’ve ever known. It is a great accomplishment because when I started running, in the back of my mind, I knew I would probably quit, just like I quit everything else.  The fact that I was running three miles without stopping; however, meant I could sign up for a 5K race, and that’s when I really started enjoying running. Next came 10ks and half marathons and, ultimately a full marathon. 

I was talking with one of my good friends recently about exercise and motivation and sticking to a program. She asserted that if a person really has a passion for their activity or program that it takes on a whole new meaning. I don’t think she was saying that if a person has a passion for an activity it is easy, but just that it is somewhat easier because it is enjoyable. I can certainly see that this is the case for me and my running. It certainly did develop into a passion for me. During that first six months to a year of running; however, it was a far cry from a passion for me. Honestly, in the beginning, it really felt like torture. My muscles were developing and my pain threshold was being challenged. I learned a lot about myself as I developed into a runner. I learned that feeling strong is wonderful, and I never want to feel weak again. 

  
So, yes, running is a passion of mine, but I’d be lying if I said that I look forward to every run. I’d be lying if I said that I don’t sometimes consider quitting. Ultimately, I keep going, because I know how happy running has made me. Running is more habit for me than it is passion at this point. I guess the main point to take away from the passion vs. habit argument in regards to fitness, is that if you’re waiting to find an activity that you instantly feel passionate about, you will never find it. A new program is hard and it hurts. Pushing through fatigue, soreness, and even pain goes against human nature and our natural defense mechanisms. Once the muscles develop and you get used to the fatigue, soreness, and pain, that’s when you can start to enjoy an activity that just might turn into a passion if you keep going.

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48 thoughts on “Passion Or Habit?

  1. I love this! And I’m glad I read it this morning, because I have been blowing off so many runs! I have a three miler scheduled for to night. If I feel like blowing it off again, I’ll remember this post (and the eight miler I’m supposed to run on Saturday!)

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  2. I couldn’t have written this any better! I have been running for four years and I stick with it even when I’m tired, sore, or bummed because it’s not just exercise. It’s my passion! And we all have days where we just don’t wanna! But that’s where our strength is built! Love your blog! New reader. πŸ™‚

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  3. Pingback: Passion Or Habit? | Soldyourway's Blog

  4. Thank you so much for the follow Dendy. I recognised your Gravatar photo from somewhere, then realized it was Twitter. Appreciate the connection.

    You have a great blog. I appreciate your honesty as you shared your road to becoming a runner. I started running at 55, and can very much understand the wanting to pack it in.

    You persevered, and look at you now Dendy……running marathons. This is awesome. Looking forward to connecting more through your blog! πŸ™‚

    ~Carl~

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  5. This rings true. I would even say if you want to master something, you have to apply discipline. How can you know if you don’t like an activity if you never get good enough to do it for real? Thanks for telling your story, and thanks for the follow πŸ™‚

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  6. Running is definitely a passion. You have to love it, even if you hate it some times, to keep going. There’s nothing like that sense of shoe enemy though when you hit the distance, break the time record or even just run 3 miles without stopping (totally hear ya there). Great post!

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  7. I love your honesty. True, every run doesn’t start awesome but even when we feel sore afterwards, looking back at the end of a run usually fills us with a sense of accomplishment. That’s what I try to tell myself when I am trying to get motivated to go out for a run sometimes.

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  8. I remember reading somewhere that the average age of a first marathon for women was around 35 or so. I think it makes sense. We’re finally ready to push ourselves, we need to start actually doing something to keep our bodies strong, and we get a bit of alone time in the process – something desperately needed since we are so busy!

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  9. I believe both start in your head. We cannot see a path until we imagine it even the habits & passions that harm us like, skipping a workout for a new Ben & Jerry’s flavor (personal favorite). Like most things though, time is money and the more time you put in the more invested you are in that direction. Eventually, bad habits unravel themselves and fall away from you and then it’s a small victory much like enlightenment.

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  10. One of the things that keeps me running is that almost ‘high’ you get while running. For me, running is that one thing that strips away the daily stress and helps me to think clearly. I also write in my free time, and I can’t count how many times I’ve had answers to plot and character problems come to me, seemingly out of nowhere, while running. I love that feeling.

    On a different track, I noticed that you live in Friendswood. I’m from Illinois, and currently live in Illinois, but I spent almost 10 years as a kid in Texas. I lived in Pearland and an uncle of mine lived in Friendswood. Small world, for sure….

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    • Wow! Yes, what a small world. I know exactly what you mean about the epiphanies that come to us while running. Long Saturday morning runs are when I iron out my concerns from the week. When I’m home I find myself too distracted to really think. We are so fortunate to have running. Happy to connect. Happy running!

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  11. First, thank you for finding me. πŸ™‚ Second, what a great post! I am 38 and never was able to run before. My husband started running and almost dragged me to the road to get me to start… but once I did, I did a slow 2 and a 1/2 miles. I had never been able to run a half a mile without stopping, and I kept moving and was amazed at my ability. I am training for a marathon now and can’t believe it– but I know it is all in your mind as to whether you can do it or whether you have to stop. You have to turn off that piece of your brain telling you to give up. This was a great post– and so glad to have found you.

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    • Thank you for the kind words. You are going to kill the marathon and it really will change your life. It sounds so trite, but it is so true. We are so fortunate to have found running. It makes us feel strong, powerful, beautiful, confident. These are the things I wish for all people, especially us ladies. So happy to connect and I look forward to following your journey. Happy running!

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