Running Is Farming

Around this time of year I tend to hear the same sort of comments. And frankly, it's a little annoying.It's too hot to run.”

It's not the heat, it's the humidity!”

I just can't get motivated to run in weather like this...”

Well, you're not gonna get any sympathy from me. You say you want to run well in the fall? You want to run farther than you have in the past and do a half marathon? A marathon?? Or maybe you just want to get up to speed and try a 5K. (A great one is going to be held on October 23 at the Please Touch Museum)

Yep, the weather will be great when race time rolls around. Will you?

Listen, it takes time to get into shape. It's a process. But you've got to put in the time NOW to be successful THEN. Comprende?

Mike Boyle, a great role model of mine, just wrote a blog post detailing exactly what I'm trying to say. It's about something that applies to my fat loss, fitness, running, senior, junior, novice, advanced – EVERY - client.

I think I remember Stephen Covey in his book Seven Habits of Highly Effective People making reference to what I believe he called “the law of the farm.” The reference was meant to show that most of the truly good things in life take time and can’t be forced or rushed. Covey described the process of farming and alluded to how it requires patience and diligence to grow crops properly. In addition, farming requires belief in the system. The farmer must believe that all the hard work and preparation will eventually yield a long-term result.

As a strength and conditioning coach, business owner and personal trainer, the concept has always stuck with me. The process of exercising is much like farming or like planting a lawn. There are no immediate results from exercise and there are no immediate results from farming.

First, the seeds must be planted. Then fertilizer (nutrition) and water must be applied consistently. Much like fertilizer in farming, too much food can be a detriment to the exerciser. Only the correct amounts cause proper growth. Overfeeding can cause problems, as can underfeeding. As I sit and wait for my lawn to sprout or crops to grow, I feel many of the same frustrations of the new exerciser. When will I see results? How come nothing is happening? All this work and — nothing.

The key is to not quit. Have faith in the process. Continue to add water and wait. Farming and exercising are eerily similar. Continue to exercise and eat well and suddenly a friend or co-worker will say, “Have you lost weight”? Your reaction might be, “It’s about time someone noticed.” Much like the first blades of grass poking through the ground, you begin to see success. You begin to experience positive feedback. Clothes begin to fit differently.

When my friends or clients talk to me about their frustration with their initial lack of progress in an exercise program, I always bring up the farm analogy. We live in a world obsessed with quick fixes and instant results. This is why the farm analogy can be both informative and comforting.

An exercise program must be approached over a period of weeks and months, not days. The reality is that there is no quick fix, no easy way, no magic weight loss plan, no secret cellulite formula. There is only the law of the farm. You will reap what you sow. In reality, you will reap what you sow and care for. If you are consistent and diligent with both diet and exercise, you will eventually see results. However, remember, much like fertilizer and water, diet and exercise go together.

Try to grow crops or a lawn without water. No amount of effort will overcome the lack of vital nutrients.

The law of the farm.

Plant the seeds.

Feed and water properly.

Wait for results; they will happen, not in days, but in weeks and months.

Thanks to Mike for a great perspective! I think we can all agree that run training fits perfectly into the farming analogy. Personally, like anyone else, I'd love to run dramatically faster. But I've learned to be happy making consistent incremental improvement. And more importantly, I've learned to ENJOY the process.

I enjoy running. I enjoy having run. It feels great! As long as I keep that in the back of my mind, I will make smart training decisions and have no shortage of motivation.

How about you? What's YOUR motivation these days? How do you overcome the weather or other obstacles?