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Restarting routine

January 27, 2015

It would appear that I need routine in my life. I don’t want to be one of those people who needs structure and discipline, but I am. The evidence is undeniable.

Christmas came – the festive season, not the toe-curling smut-pun that concludes the excruciating The World is not Enough – and the mandatory structure of the working day dropped away for a gloriously unstructured two and a half weeks. Within a few days, we’d been getting up so late that lunchtime had back-shifted to 4:30 on a good day (and 5:30 on the worst).

And come the end of the fortnight-plus holiday, I’d squeezed in a grand total of three runs – of which precisely zero had been anything other than a last-minute dash to beat the flagging daylight. It took three days’ pre-emptive early nights and reluctantly set morning alarms to try to shake off the holiday jet-lag. The subsequent week, throwing myself out of bed while the morning was still dark (or, perhaps more accurately, starting to become light) felt like an epic struggle from a pit of quicksand.

So, I’ve come to the reluctant conclusion that I need structure and discipline. (Booooor-ring.)

Struck by enthusiasm, I set my alarm early on the second Tuesday back at work. I would get up at 6, and I would run before I’d even had breakfast. Dammit, I was going to be a machine.

My enthusiasm churned round in my restless head as I tried desperately to get a good night’s sleep. Eventually I dropped off, at what must have about about half two.

The alarm went off at 6. I hit snooze. 20 times. And then got up at 7 and felt rotten for the rest of the day.

It turns out I’m not an early morning runner. So I ran home from work, using my bike lights to semi-light my way, and it was awesome. I might not have been a machine, but I felt satisfied and refreshed. And I slept really well that night.

And so a routine was reborn. Running home Tuesday and Thursday, and then running in the daylight unencumbered by a bag stuffed with work kit on the Sunday.

So yes, I need structure, but then running has always been about structure. Times per week; miles per run; pace per mile. It’s all about dedicating time. And the routine of running has always served a purpose – a target and focus in periods of aimlessness, an outlet at times of stress, and time to process and percolate those ideas that bubble up persistently, begging for something to become of them.

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