When I first began running, I had no idea what I was doing. Frankly, I didn’t think it mattered. I mean, how hard can it be, right? You just grab a pair of shoes and get out there and go, right?
Well, yes and no.
You CAN just get out there and go, but the more you learn about running (or anything for that matter), the more you realize that there are ways to optimize the experience.
You learn about proper posture, different strides and different kinds of footwear, pacing, training plans, proper nutrition, even mental strategies for being your best.
And you know what? After learning all that (still on the journey) I’m better for it. Now when I run, I have a checklist I go through: feet landing underneath my hips, knees not knocking, arms swinging out in front of me, hands and shoulders relaxed, head upright, breathing controlled and rhythmic, etc. It’s made a huge difference in how fast and far I can run. Its also helped to reduced injury.
When I’m running, I don’t think, “Man, this structured running form thing is so restrictive. I should just go back to flailing.” No, the discipline of the form is actually FREEING. I’ve come to enjoy it. I know it’s helping me achieve my goals.
It’s easy to view personal discipline as a drag. It takes effort. It can be hard. It requires time. But like good running form, discipline actually enables us to do the things we’re already doing so much better. It can even help us to begin doing things we’ve always wanted to to do, but have never gotten around to.
I didn’t learn about or implement good running form overnight. It was a process. It’s taken several years. There have been ups and downs. But it’s paid off. That’s how becoming disciplined in something tends to work.
What if we saw personal discipline as a friend – an ally – instead of as some form of guilt-driven self-punishment? What if we realized it was a gift and we gave ourselves lots of grace to take baby steps towards it everyday? What if we viewed it not as something we either have or don’t have, but as something we grow, like a muscle, when we use it?
How have you tended to view discipline? Has your mindset been helping or hurting?