A Tale of Two Restarts

I injured my hamstring right before I was set to run a marathon this past June. I went to a few physical therapy sessions to see if I could do anything to salvage my training, but ultimately I decided to not do the marathon and greatly reduced my running volume so that I could heal.

And then I just stopped altogether.

I was traveling and my hamstring wasn’t getting better, and I just wanted to not think about it for a few weeks.

At the same time, I also stopped writing and podcasting.

By the time I got back, my hamstring felt great. I had lost a bit of fitness, and July in Florida is no time to train or run marathons, but I did settle back into my normal summer training regimen. I had restarted immediately without really trying that hard.

I did not restart writing. What was the difference?

For one, I’ve been running for a very long time, and I have gotten a lot out of it. I generally believe my health depends on me doing it. And, in the past three years, I have been doing it very consistently. Every run I do now seems to pay off immediately in self-esteem, weight maintenance, and feelings of fitness.

Although I’ve been writing over the same period, I have only gotten very consistent six months ago. And, although I have had successes, the benefits of continuing are not as clear. I have data that shows I am slimmer, faster, and more efficient. I don’t have anything like that for writing.

And, I legitimately hurt myself running in a way that rest would help. It was not an excuse. The work I needed to do was to rest. Perhaps that was the same with writing—maybe I needed a rest. That does feel like more of an excuse to me though.

I also have an app that I care about that can only be used if I run. My programmer identity forces me to run in order to program.

But, probably more importantly, I belong to a running group with a coach. It’s harder not to run than to run. There is some accountability there, but that’s not what helped me restart—it was my coach making a specific plan to restart that helped. She had been in my position many times and could help me through it.

So, what could I do to make sure I keep writing? I think two things are clear

  1. Get a coach.
  2. Have some kind of feedback mechanism.

My main issue is that I don’t really have a goal beyond just doing it to do it. I thought that would be enough, but I think I could use a little more.