It’s a Saturday in late December of 2013. My father is spending the last few hours of his life in bed, finally conceding to the cancer he’s fought for over five years. Just three of us now and the muted television. Aerial alpine scenes from somewhere, as if transmitted live by bird.
Why does starting and maintaining a streak motivate people so effectively, while breaking one has the opposite effect? Something interesting is at play. Let's dive into the power of streaks in creating habit change.
I held my running more gently this year, showed myself some patience and grace. It was all quite intentional… A grab at something deeper than the time on the finish clock. Going into the final "A" race of the season, I was just as intentional, with a twist.
Healthy humans are constantly evolving. Taking a planned break from habits is a great way to clear the slate, refresh perspectives, and reorient your compass to the person you're becoming. Here's how (and why, and when) to do an old-fashioned system restart.
It's a mistake to cling to rigid training modalities and success metrics. Rigid systems break. When things get difficult, we're wise to pause and remember that we always have options. Deploying thoughtful and intentional choices gives us agency… and agency is the bedrock of hope.
It's not quite right to call our return to Boston a “re-do.” That would imply a desire to erase or replace the tragic events of 2013. We never wanted to forget. Much like other aspects of recovery, Boston 2023 was about making peace with the past and fully experiencing the present.
Change is disorienting. Anyone who’s trained for a marathon knows well the physical and psychological challenges of tapering (a reduction in running as the goal race nears). Same goes for restricting alcohol. You know it’s a good thing, but damn is it hard.
This is the first time I’ve tried to put my 2013 Boston Marathon experience into words. Hell, it might be the first time I’ve challenged myself to really think about it. Mine bears no comparison to the stories of the thousands whose lives were broken on April 15.
Consistency. Stress. Rest. Combined in the right order, with intention and direction, these three unfussy words coalesce into The Formula, the closest thing I’ve found to a universal maxim for sustainable success in sobriety, running, and all the other grueling, glorious things you’ll undertake in life.
There's a family dinner. You're close with a few folks, acquainted enough with the rest to make comfortable conversation. Comfortable, that is, until someone lobs the inevitable, "How's the running?" You flush. A rush of feelings and emotions wash over.