Finding a New Routine as Things Change

As Thanksgiving week wraps up, I’m reminded, again, how much routine and habits play a role in success. This has been a wonderful week, full of family and friends and just some chances to relax. It’s also been completely not routine in any way, shape or form.

One thing I’ve learned: Routine matters. Periodically, the question of motivation comes up in Sub-30, and the concept that discipline isn’t the solution to lack of motivation — habit is the answer. True in many areas of life, actually.

Professor Badass and I had a discussion in this week’s Podcast of the Week thread that I’ll probably delve back into in a different post, but for now I want to mention a concept I mentioned to her: Samskaras.

Samskaras are basically the yoga term for habits, and I liken them to wagon wheel ruts. When we follow the same path many times, there’s a groove we then fall into every other time we head down that path. Rather than trying to keep pulling the wheels out of those ruts, we have better luck when we actively fill in those old pathways by picking a new path. And yes, discipline is necessary to establish that new path until the new grooves are deep enough to keep our wheels on that track.

I’m lucky in that just as I switched gears to working toward 2018 running goals, my work schedule got much more conducive to that training. Working the early shift means I have to get up, get ready and get into the office in a streamlined manner. It also makes my commute more predictable and pretty much forces me to go for my run as soon as I get home to get it in before dark.

This past week, being out of that routine, has made it even more clear how much habit and environment play a role.

So, while this week is off the rails (or out of the ruts) in a different way, I’ve pondered which grooves I want to create when I return.

  • I have a new kitchen tool, a three-crock slow-cooker that is the perfect size for me to make multiple proteins for my daily quinoa bowl meals
  • Those bowls: Roasted veggies, quinoa, protein and either an over-easy or poached egg or a small avocado
  • Portion size tracking. I’ve gotten away from that this week, but My Fitness Pal has been helpful to help me track nutrients and macros, as well as overall calories
  • A set of sequential actions that start with waking up and go through my post-work run and XT so that I get in everything I need to do each day without having to think about it
  • Daily cross-training that rotates among lifting, flexibility/core and non-running cardio so I stay away from the “I can make up XT tomorrow” trap
  • An active recovery routine that includes foam rolling, stretching and soaking sore muscles, again so that happens every day
  • Possibly alarms on my phone if I find I’m not remembering to eat at the right times during the work day to set up my workouts for success
  • A schedule for household chores so they don’t all build up during the week and eat my weekends
  • An evening routine that ends with everything ready for me in the morning so I don’t start my day with a scramble

Some words and concepts keep coming up, best summarized as routine. Or, getting back to where I started, habits. The fewer decisions I have to make, the more mental energy there is to make good decisions each time.

From left, chimichurri stew beef, honey soy chicken, and coffee BBQ pork tenderloin are ready for the slow-cooker

The six weeks from Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day are probably the toughest ones to get in (or stay in) any kind of routine because there are so many holiday-related things that create different dynamics in days or weeks, so building these routines are challenging, but also will be stronger for having withstood those pressures.

One thing I need to make routine that isn’t on the list above is blogging. I’m still figuring out how often I should blog and how much I should balance quick hits on how things are going with particular workouts or days vs. longer posts like this one that address big-picture issues I’m wrestling with.

Have thoughts? Let me know in comments or on social media, please!

More #RunningToNYC posts

Lesson Learned: Cross-Training is Not Optional

NYC Marathon: The Biggest Block Party for Runners

Lessons Learned in a Year of Change

Beginnings and Endings, On the Road and Off

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