The other morning, I was dragging to get my run in. I had to go long. My legs were fatigued, calves were swollen and I was generally tired. I did my normal pre-run things. Bodyweight squats, deep lunge stretch, pace around the house looking out all the windows. Drink coffee. Drink more coffee. Chug a seltzer. Anything to delay getting in my car and driving the 2.1 miles to Stratham Hill Park.
There’s this awesome thing that happens when I go to tie my shoes. Clem realizes, before I even sit, but during my approach to sit, that it’s go time. She knows when I grab those certain shoes it’s time for a run. After I tie my shoes, I clip on her collar and leash, then I tie her adventure bandana around her neck. It’s just a regular bandana, but when we go long, I usually tie it on to her.
When people ask about it, I remark that it's so I can spot her while she’s dashing through the woods chasing squirrels and birds. I realized making my first climb up Stratham Hill, while my legs were screaming at me to quit, that the bandana isn’t for her. In fact, its for me. I put the bandana on her when I know its going to be a hard effort. It’s a way to prepare. It’s a variable I control.
I’ve talked before about having good processes. Good systems in place can help an athlete prepare for a game, a business run smoothly and get anyone mentally prepared for a challenge. Our processes can be boiled down to what we can control. While slogging up the hill, I realized I tie that bandana on her when I need a little boost. When I need to get my head on and prepare to be self-propelled for a couple hours.
Processes get us prepared. Without developing processes, we’re not optimizing our success. We should have pre-gym processes, or habits to get us in the door, but also to get us ready to train. You may already have these in place but haven’t realized their importance. Or like me, that you were doing them at all.