Camp report no. 4 – Regular exercise

After doing nothing for my Camp NaNo novel for three days, I have clawed my way back up today. Not to the point where I should be, but close enough to be able to relax again. I went from 11,742 to 16,028 words today, which means that I wrote 4286 words (luckily, the website tells me that, otherwise I would have needed to find a calculator – I’m that bad at numbers). For me, that’s A LOT. My goal was to crack 16k today, and I did, and I feel good about it!

While writing, I asked myself why I don’t write these kind of numbers every day. Or, even more pertinently, why I just don’t write the minimum number of 1667 words every day and be done with it. Why do I lean back and not do anything for three days, and then have to scramble to get back?

When I moved back in with my parents two and a half months ago (a temporary arrangement, quite definitely), one of the things I listed on my internal pro/con list as a point on the positive side, was the fact that my Mum has quite a few gym machines in the cellar. There’s a bike thingy, and a running thingy, and lots of stuff for doing other kinds of exercises. And as I’m not as fit as I should or could be, I made the decision to go running on the machine every day. Every day. Even though I hate running. And I did do it.

Yep, you noticed the tense, didn’t you? You’re right. I started out the first week, running for half an hour every morning, and not hating it. Even feeling rather good and smug about myself. And then the inevitable started – one day, I couldn’t make myself get up on time. Another day, I had a headache. The next day, I just felt too hungry and wanted to have breakfast straight away. So I only went running twice a week, then only once, and then I stopped altogether. Now, I haven’t exercised for several weeks, despite the fact that I tell myself every day that I really need it, that I will feel better afterwards.

Why am I not running? Why am I not writing every day? For me, the answer is, quite sadly, pressure. It’s a very depressing conclusion to come to: that apparently, I do not have enough discipline to do what I want to do, what I know is good for me, on a regular basis without external pressure. Such a very dispiriting thing to have to face about oneself! Especially if one is, as I am, very much against pressure and very much against having to do what others say one has to do.

I’ve started to see the light, however. Knowing this about myself will help me deal with it. I just need to create pressure for myself. Apparently, that’s what I’ve been doing unconsciously already, with letting myself fall back on the writing goal. For writing, I can create pressure by timing myself. I can use the falling-back-and-catching-up-again-technique. I can work with motivators like food (‘you’ll only eat if you get to x words!’). I can ask people to hold me accountable (actually, that’s where the cabin system of the Camp NaNo website does wonders!).

Pressure for exercising regularly? Well, I’ve recently thought that I will put a photo of my younger, slimmer, fitter self on my laptop and use it as a desktop image. Or resurrect my old training pal, who is conveniently totally imaginary, but won’t let that stop her from kicking my butt all the same.

Somehow, I feel more confident about the writing than about the exercising. Help?

P.S. If you need pressure to work as well, please do leave a comment. I won’t feel so lonely. And if you don’t need pressure, could you teach me how to do that as well?


About wordsurfer

writer, ex-teacher, human rights believer & fighter, traveller, adventure-seeker, freedom lover, global citizen. big on daydreams, less so on reality.

Posted on June 12, 2012, in day-to-day and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. hun, this might help you. I read someone notes who said that he was running (sprint) in a park for the first 15 minutes and the same time an old guy was walking slowly. in the middle of this (young) guy run, he felt tired and walk, and run again, until he realised that this old guy has passed him 3 times because although he might be walking slowly, but he did that constantly.So instead of putting high target and feeling tired afterwards, maybe you can lower your target but do it constantly. slowly but sure :p

    • Like the hare and the tortoise? 🙂
      You are definitely right, and in theory I know that as well (I do realize that trying to run every day was putting the goal a bit too high), but if, for example, I lower the frequency, then I don’t get into the routine of doing it. I find excuses too easily. I feel, if I could establish a routine, something I do without thinking about it anymore, it would really help. I love your story though, and I can totally imagine that happening!

  2. Whenever I listen to that Rolling Stones song ‘Time is on Your Side’ it always makes me feel better about being a bit lazy and not getting on with things. Ride the waves (no pun intended) of self doubt and always avoid unnecessarily beating yourself up. Nobody’s perfect.

    • Putting it on the digital spintable just now! It’s been an age since I listened to the Stones as well, so that was overdue anyway. Thanks!

      On the whole, I’ve got no problem with being lazy and putting things off (rather a specialty of mine), but those situation where you actually WANT to do something, yet don’t do it – they are way beyond laziness. They are really about self-control and being focused and so on. Don’t you think?

      • I agree – I heard Ian Mcewan say recently that you have a duty to turn up at your desk everyday even if you don’t have any ideas at all. But then again, there’s that old John Lennon line ‘life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans’ – I take that to mean (in, I suppose, a writerly context) that you often get valuable work done while procrastinating.

  3. I have a gym membership, and there was a time where I hardly went to the gym; I always felt guilty about wasting money. Once I made exercising a regular habit (4-5 times a week), it became easier to go; the cute guys with big muscles at the gym also make it fun to go. 🙂 Also, I figure if I’m going to spend money on a membership I might as well make the most of it. But even if you’re working out at home, you could still do something you like while you’re exercising, like read a magazine or listen to music. That’ll make the time go by faster.
    It’s hard for me to motivate myself to work on my dissertation as regularly as I work out (which sounds bad, I know). I’m under a lot of pressure to finish it, but every time I sit down to work on it I feel overwhelmed and afraid because I can’t think of the right things to write down.

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