I’m in a bit of a slump. When I first started running, I quickly got hooked on it. I liked the feeling it gave me, loved the endorphin rush, and relished the physical results. I ran more and more often, longer and longer distances, for all the right reasons. It became part of my routine. Somewhere along the way, the routine began to overshadow the original motivation, and running settled into habit status. Now it is not coming easily, and I’m struggling to maintain my routine.

I have a choice to make. One option is to approach this purely as an exercise of “getting back into the habit” and power through the slump by sheer force of will. Another option, one I find more intriguing, is to take the opposite approach: I can get OUT of the habit.

What?! Stop running? No way. Running has been great for both my health and my psyche, and I don’t want to lose sight of that. In fact, that’s precisely why I want it to lose its habit status.

I think a habit is nothing more than mindless conformity to a particular behavior. Instead of fighting my way back into the pattern, I want to get excited again. I want to revisit the reasons for my earlier exuberance and let them draw me back to the magic. If those reasons no longer hold sway for me, then I need to look for new ones. 

Certainly there are good reasons for routine, not the least of which is self-discipline. In fact, it’s an essential element for any training regimen. It just can’t be the only element. Self-discipline has to be driven by an underlying excitement, a passion, which is a much stronger motivator than routine. Without it, routine becomes habit and often ends up as drudgery. Running may be the activity that sparked this thought process for me, but somehow I think there’s a larger lesson here.