May 19, 2011

Rain Running

Every Sunday morning that I’m in town, I head out for a long run. Two weekends ago at the waterfront, the weather was glorious. The whole city of Portland took up jogging or cycling.

Last weekend at the waterfront, the weather was more to our usual end-of-Spring form… rainy and gloomy. The whole city of Portland stayed indoors.

On the sunny day, joggers and cyclists smiled at each other with a mutual appreciation of our good fortune. The implied message was, “It’s good to be alive!”

But on the rainy day, a much smaller crowd of amateur athletes nodded at each other with mutual pride. The implied message was, “Nice job. Glad to see you made it out while other people are sleeping in.”

If I don’t feel like running one weekend, I go anyway. It’s not just out of duty—nine times out of ten, I’m glad I went. The days I feel bad about my writing aren’t the days when I’ve written poorly. It’s the days where I’ve done everything but write—those days are killer.

If you base your workout schedule on the weather, you’ll never build a habit of exercise. The same is true for writing or any other creative practice: base it on anything outside your control, and good luck getting anything done.

In a creative practice, waiting for “inspiration” is the worst. I follow the Somerset Maugham school of inspiration: “I write only when inspiration strikes. Fortunately, it strikes every morning at nine o’clock sharp.”

It might not be every morning at nine o’clock sharp for you, but the point is that inspiration shows up when you have a deadline to meet. If you don’t have a real deadline, better make one up.

***

I always like to hear about other people’s goals and projects. One interesting way to find out what motivates someone is to ask:

“Why do you get out of bed in the mornings?”

Sometimes the answer is “school” or “a job,” and that’s fine—I don’t think everyone should walk away from schools and jobs without a plan. But the obvious follow-up is, what if you didn’t have the obligation; what would you get out of bed in the mornings for if it was completely up to you?

I get up to run on Sundays, rain or shine. I’d rather it be shining, but regardless, the shoes are by the door the night before. The other six days of the week, I get up to write. I’m working toward something; I’ll put the miles in.

How about you—why do you get out of bed in the mornings?

###

Image: Domi-San

Comment on this article

70 Responses to “Rain Running”

  1. Excellent post — speaks to my heart. Just as you noted, if I don’t have a real deadline, I absolutely have to make one up. Otherwise, I waste my time Web surfing or finding all sorts of excuses not to write or create artwork. Having a deadline for the local paper really helps. Once I start writing columns, other ideas for essays (which I can publish elsewhere) are triggered. Writing begets more writing. Thank goodness!

  2. I get out of bed in the morning because I want to inspire others to chase their dreams. I’ve been lucky enough to have been granted the chances to chase the dreams I’ve had. I feel like it’s my duty to share the same zest with those around me. Like writing or running, someone might need your inspiration on a day that is less than stellar for me. But I can’t only inspire when I feel inspired, it has to be a habit of the approach. Thanks!

  3. This is great Chris. Put in the miles. I just did my first marathon and it’s all about just putting in the miles. Whether you feel like it or not, you’re building up to something bigger. If you want to get to that bigger goal, you gotta do the unglamorous work of running every day, even when you don’t want to.

  4. I love the possibilities each day offers and the fact that I don’t need to ask permission to do what I do. There are less gatekeepers now than ever. It is so easy to go out and pursue your dreams. Also, my girlfriend is incredible and waking up next to her and spending the day with her is easily one of the greatest pleasures of my life.

  5. I get out of bed every morning to spark change within America’s mainstream culture. Beyond Cosmo Magazine and MTV, can better direction exist as the go-to source for mainstream youth? I think the answer is yes.

  6. I love this post, specially the part about writing, a deadline helps or for me also “doing it everyday rather than just do it when the inspiration shows up”. I have a quote from Picasso on my table : “”La inspiraciòn existe, pero tiene que encontrarte trabajando.” Translated: “Inspiration exists but it has to find you working.”

    But to answer your question: I get up to be creative.

  7. May 19, 2011

    Lana Sheaffer

    I get out of bed to start my day, to continue my life. I always like to get out of bed. This wasn’t so 30 years ago when I had a 9-5 job. I followed my spirit and became free.

  8. As always great post.

    What gets me out of bed? I’m addicted to the thrill of possibility.

  9. I get out of bed every morning for my kids.
    I like how you asked “if you didn’t have the obligation…”
    If I didn’t have to get up in the mornings, I wouldn’t. I would get up in the evening after the heat has peaked. I would open all of my windows, dim all of the lights and paint with the moon.
    I think you’ve inspired a blog!
    Thanks!

  10. May 19, 2011

    David R

    I get out of bed every morning knowing that it is an opportunity to learn something and apply that new knowledge into my daily life and my ultimate life goals.

  11. This analogy works so well for me Chris. I just finished a program to help me start my Virtual Assistance business, and now that I’m done I need to make my own deadlines – my own reasons for showing up to do the work I want to do in the world. Thanks for the great reminder!

    BTW – I also get out of bed in the morning because it’s part of the journey called life. I get to play outside, make art, hang out with friends and…many other cool adventures!

  12. I get out of bed to get my kids to school on time and to get myself to work on time. On weekends I get out of bed because the kids are hungry.

    The days I don’t have to get out of bed because the kids are away with their dad, I usually don’t get out of bed. I stay in and read. Maybe get up to grab a new book or eat. But I enjoy being in my bed very much. I can read in it, think in it, write in it, crochet in it, be intimate in it, dream in it…

    Nah, in my life, the bed’s not a bad place to be at all. :)

  13. I like to get out of bed to get things done and try to make the most of the day. Whether that’s trying to find funders for my IndieGoGo campaign (happening right now for WDS), writing, or thinking of new business opportunities or travel plans.
    I like thinking about the possibilities.

  14. There’s no doubt that real deadlines really help me get my work done on time. Unfortunately, after years of frustration with arbitrary and meaningless ones (school), I have a lot of trouble with “If you don’t have a real deadline, better make one up.”

    The voice of a project asking for more work to be done always seems louder and more convincing to me than that of a random date I set.

    A strategy that seems to be working is to pick a concise enough idea that my deadline can be one single day. Too little time for it to grow and overpower the time limit.

    I’m always really curious about ways people make their “made-up deadlines” feel weighty, real and worth abiding by.

  15. I literally get out of bed every morning because the WiFi in hostel dorms in miserable. Honestly, though, I get out of bed because I’m on an adventure, and it makes me happy. I spent most of last year in bed. Now I’m in Guatemala, there’s a ton of new, interesting stuff to see. Why would I stay in bed?

    Still, the work only gets done because if it doesn’t, I have to go home. And that’s inspirational enough for me.

  16. Well, this was a little bit of a slap in the face to wake up to my procrastinating with my writing as I wait for the right moment or the perfect inspiration. I have made recent efforts by going to bed early and then getting up early to have set time to both workout and work on our website project and writing. If it’s “rainy” I am not necessarily motivated.
    I actually love getting up in the morning – it is when I am most clear and pure in thought, it is when I feel the potential of the day, it is when I do my best thinking. I just need to be better about the action part…
    Thanks!

  17. My current short-term reason for getting out of bed is to go to the “job” in order to pay my bills, and it’s also the resource to bring my business closer to where it should be. Having had to “start” all over in this economy, my motivation for a better life starts with doing what needs to be done first, while I am building my dreams.

  18. I rush to continue whatever I was doing until I fell asleep last night. So many things to do, sleep is a waste!

  19. Big mission statements and world-changing aspirations aside —Gotta walk the dog. When I started on my own and officed from home, the dog was built-in structure. Get up, shower, dress, put makeup on, walk dog – like I did when I was working 9 to 5. No schlubbing around in yoga pants. On weekends, up and out with the dog. No sleeping in.

    Plus it clears your head and gets you outside – rain, shine or ice cold freezing (this is MN)

    When I’m traveling sans dog, I miss the AM outdoor time. It’s a great gentle way to get into the day and get some vitamin D.

  20. May 19, 2011

    Jeremy Wenzel

    Why do I get out of bed? I do it to improve the lives of others and myself. I have started running again after a huge stopping. Luckily I competed in college and coached at that level so I have a good idea if I do need to slow down to maintain as I continue to get back into shape. This is improving myself. Than I go to work and make the best of what I can to help my clients get themselves into a better situation. Which means they don’t always like my advice but I do what I can to show them the available options.

  21. Great post! Strange though, I run 4 mornings a week – rain or shine – but I don’t have the same attitude with my writing. Reading this has really made me stop and think about my attitude towards writing. I remember one time I gave myself an hour to write a blog post. It took me 1 1/2 hours but I did get if completed much faster with this self-imposed deadline! Love it and will be implementing it today.

  22. May 19, 2011

    Jean-Baptiste Collinet

    I wake up each morning at 5:00 am, it’s a built-in feature.
    The first thing I think about is not my breakfast and coffee.
    No. This thing is in front of me. It is called a piano… :)

    5:00am and practicing piano?

    Yes, absolutely. The neighbors are very understanding.
    When I’m done with warming up, I allow me some wrist rest, and a coffee mug.

    I started playing when I was 4, 25 years ago. I hadn’t this routine but it came naturally.

    I had left hand tendons injured in 2001. My hand was dead.

    The piano wasn’t in front of my bed at the moment. I decided to move the monster.
    Each morning, I felt I had to, no matter the psychic and physical pain.

    Now, I’m really comfortable with this daily routine, and I can’t imagine my life without.
    It’s great to be alive!

    When I travel… I make sure there’s a piano available. If not, I use my iPad…

  23. Well, because I am still alive – to meet another day with same duties – putting on Asics like yours – having 12 km walk by the seaside, coming back home and starting to do things which I do not like 100%. I have just started my own company and it is too early to make an opinion whether it was right and sound decision. I am over 50 by now and do not have a lot of time to bouild another empire. I am tired of politicians, stupid rules and hopeless authorities saying I am wrong or I am right. I would like to do something but I cannot find enough motivation except doing certain duties for a living. I have read 100+ blogs like yours and while reading everything seems to be easy – and than another day comes… . I know that according what you and people like you are writing you have to set up a goal and start the action – I am doing it no satisfactory results so far, maybe it is too late or maybe I am doing wrong things. I have to try as there are five of us in our family and we have to live on. We will. I have read recently your book about noncomformity – and I think that my nonconformity maybe the result of my results – who knows? Tomorrow morning I will be by the seaside again …

  24. I’m on a leave of absence from my job due to stress, depression, and possible PTSD. I make a point of getting up with my husband in the morning. If I didn’t, I think the depression would get worse, not better. i’m determined to set goals, no matter how small, and getting up in the morning is one of those.

  25. May 19, 2011

    Steve Eberhard

    As I tell my wife and anyone else who is dragging their feet on something… “the hardest step is the first one out the door”.

  26. Spot-on, Chris. I schedule my exercise and my writing on a calendar, where I keep my daily to-do list down to 2 to 3 items tops, to avoid distractions. The two priorities are: writing and exercise. If I don’t get them done, I didn’t meet my goals for the day, and I have no excuses.

    Sometimes people ask me about writer’s block, and I admit I don’t get writer’s block – probably because I spent 10 years in newsrooms, where writer’s block gets you fired. Sure, sometimes I write tripe, but tripe can be edited. When things aren’t going well and I show up anyway, that’s when I’m growing my skills and ensuring I’m in my chair when inspiration arrives.

    I often recall a line from the movie “Music & Lyrics” with Hugh Grant and Drew Barrymore. They’re on deadline, but she tells him she can’t write because she’s not feeling inspired. He responds, “Inspiration is for amateurs.” I tend to agree. I appreciate inspiration, but writing is my career, so I treat it like one. Success doesn’t wait for people to feel inspired enough to show up.

  27. I get out of bed every morning because I might miss something if I don’t.

  28. The concept of putting in the miles was spot on for me! Each of the things that we achieve is a result of the physical or psychic miles that we’ve invested.

    I get out of bed to enjoy the people that I love and to experience the privilege of trying to reduce the pain in the world. Thanks for the reminder.

  29. Some days I get up because I have appointments and things to tend to. Some days I get up because I’m so damn happy that the sun is shining and the birds are singing. And some days I just bring the rest of my life back to bed. They’re all good days.

  30. I’ve been subscribed to your website for about a month now and have been generally pleased with / entertained by your updates but never commented before. I want to thank you specifically for today’s post, though.

    It seems like such common sense that if you want to make a habit of something, then you must MAKE it a habit. But what struck me in your post was the question you posed: why do you get out of bed in the mornings?

    When I thought about that for a few minutes, I realized that the things I am passionate about and the reasons I get out of bed in the morning are very different things. What a powerful realization. Thanks so much for that dose of wisdom.

  31. I get out of bed every morning to write. I’m not anywhere close to 1000 words a day yet however writing inspires.

  32. I wake up early in the morning so I can spend quality time in bed cuddling my dogs and my sweetheart. We have breakfast together in bed, then get up around 7 to start our work day. It’s my favorite time of the day!

  33. Yep, that’s how it is here as well! A bit of rain and everybody starts to be grumpy. I love to cycle through the rain though, with a huge smile on my face. Except when I’m on my way to work and I’ll have to stay in my wet clothes all day. Then rain just sucks.

    Anyway, right now on most days I get out of bed for my job. I don’t hate it, but I’d like to have a better reason. But maybe I should just feel better about my job. It’s not bad at all, I learn a lot of new things and hey, I even get to write!

  34. I get out of bed early so I am tired enough for my afternoon nap.
    I also love to read or watch a video on the computer and learn something new.
    I take notes but have not mastered the art of writing an article and posting it.
    I may have to give up my nap to get it done.

  35. I get out of bed in the morning because there is a big, cool world out there to explore, books to read, and fun people to meet. Nothing may happen that particular day, but unless I’m up and out opportunities and experiences aren’t just going to come knocking at the door.

  36. I get out of bed, because first thing in the morning is ‘my’ time – journal, meditate, yoga. Then I’m taken care of and the day seems manageable and invigorated!

  37. I ran my first marathon at the end of April, so I know what you mean, Chris, about running not because you feel like it but because you’ve made a commitment to a bigger goal, and bigger story. I get up in the mornings to tell stories, to change the world one relationship at a time, to go fly fishing, to share the heart of God with the people whose paths I cross. I actually wrote a book about how inspiration is a counter-productive myth, a chocolate kettle. But like the neighborhood cat, you can set out a plate of food and the muse shows up with regularity. She can’t, however, be coerced. So you write, create, paint, work, and run even when you don’t feel like it.

  38. Because the cows are waiting…. @Wyman – funny! @Tara – AWWW! too sweet.

    Great reminder – this weather has me all off kilter and I’ve been inefficient as a result.

  39. I get out of bed early in the morning because I love early morning light. For me there is nothing like it. It makes the world sparkle. Only after that come drawing, writing, and in general learning and understanding things, which keep it sparkling.

  40. May 19, 2011

    Natalie

    Great post, I really needed the motivation. Why out of bed? Well I’ll be dull and say work but my job as a designer is awesome and the people I work with are my family here since I’m 8,000 mi away from the real deal. Nothing like looking forward to coffee, rubber band wars, battles with clients and nerdy jokes about what to kern.

  41. If it’s something I hate doing, like taxes, business plans, yucky stuff, I have to have a deadline. Every day I know I’m going to discover something new, like you and your blog. But the real reason I get out of bed every day is the infinite possibility for inspired creation. It excites me every single day!

  42. Put in the miles. Put in the time. Put in the words. I get up in the morning to be a dad and a husband and to help others learn another language. Thanks for the inspiration. Now, I’ll get off my butt and go out for a little late night run.

  43. My first response would be – “Because that is what we do”. But, I also have the choice to lay in bed all day (I work from home). So there is more than choice that gets us going…could be curiosity of what the day will bring, a chance to be inspired, an opportunity to take a new photo…it’s all good.

  44. My theme for my life is — “I want to populate the world with superheroes.” So that’s what I get up for in the morning. I am a fitness coach for kids and adults, I am a writer, and I am an athlete. These are all ways I can touch other people’s lives and show them the superhero they have inside. So, for me it’s about learning more, getting a little better at things one day at a time, and accessing superpowers!

  45. May 19, 2011

    Emily Wenstrom

    So true! I make a point of getting up earlier than I have to so I can write before work every morning. I find I get myself out of bed faster than before I started this habit, and I am more focused when getting ready for work because I know the faster I get ready, the more time I have to write!

    Now if only I could be as motivated to get out and run …

  46. I have to get up in the morning to feed my dog, and I take one picture per day of my French Bulldog Ozzy. I’ve been doing this for over 566 days. That’s what gets me up in the morning initially. Then the second reason would be that I go to the gym and workout.

  47. I find that ‘made up deadlines’ don’t work for me. A part of me always knows that since I made up that deadline, it can easily be pushed too. I’m looking for ways where I stick to my own deadlines without sabotaging them just like I do the deadlines for projects where I work with others.

    Mostly I get up in the morning because I’ve planned what I want to write the next day. Early morning in a quiet house with a cup of strong coffee is incentive enough…

  48. I started a blog a year ago, but without a clear idea of what I wanted to achieve, and my posts have been erratic to say the least. Until today, I’m still struggling to wrap my head around blogging on a regular basis although writing has been a huge part of my working life for the past 12 years. Thanks for the constant encouragement in all your posts and for being such a great example!

  49. Savita, I sometimes have problems with self-imposed deadlines, too. That’s when I find it helpful to join writing workshops & the like. Then other people are also counting on me to make those deadlines, which can help with motivation.

  50. Ah why we do what we do? It’s gotta be a combination of love, obsession, inspiration and a desire to become whom we are meant to be. I get up at 4:30am for the 5:45am cycling or plyometrics classes. I get up because I have a commitment to my health and my body and I want nothing more than greeting the day well before dawn. Well, except if you ask me right then, I may say sleep once in a while :)!

  51. Shit, shit, shit, shit, shit.

    I have to run more. And I have to do it no matter if I feel like it.

    Shit, shit, shit, shit shit.

  52. Love this. I was just procrastinating working on my novel. Your posts keep getting better and better.

    Rock on. : )

  53. I used to get up to go to work, now I get up to live my life to its fullest. I still have to get up to go to work, but my whole vision has changed. My life has gone through a big turning point this year and I am living through a whole new vision of life!

  54. I get out of bed to write. Every day.

  55. Gosh, I don’t get out of bed in the morning for any of the wonderful reasons people have mentioned above. No, honestly, I get out of bed because I get tired of sleeping!

    Though the dream world is fascinating, the dream I live in the awake world is too lovely to NOT get up for.

    Thanks for a great post and the kick in the butt to go write the one I owe for this week!

  56. Running when raining is challenging. But, I love to do that. While running in sunny days are tough and also challenging, but doing a rain running is more challenging, and it’s like pumping more of your energy to finish our running. But, unfortunately, we cannot use earphones when rain running : ).

    As for the ending question: How about you—why do you get out of bed in the mornings? I’d answer just as what Dante said that imagine that today will never have another dusk again.

  57. May 20, 2011

    Srikant

    [[If you base your workout schedule on the weather, you’ll never build a habit of exercise. The same is true for writing or any other creative practice: base it on anything outside your control, and good luck getting anything done.

    In a creative practice, waiting for “inspiration” is the worst. I follow the Somerset Maugham school of inspiration: “I write only when inspiration strikes. Fortunately, it strikes every morning at nine o’clock sharp.”]]

    I agree very strongly! Works with playing the violin too.

  58. I loved this article – Wow, why do we get out of bed if it wasn’t for work, school or indeed the kids?

    The driving force for me to get out of my bed is my clients. I am the owner of my own virtual assistant company. Ok, you may say ‘but that’s work or a job’ however, I absolutely love what I do; so can I really call it a job or work? I suppose that’s a completely different article ;)

  59. May 20, 2011

    Pat Fuller

    I get up in the morning so I can spend some quality time with my husband before I have to leave for work. We ususally work two on-line crossword puzzles. Then, I surf the internet while he calls his sisters for a morning check-in. After I eat and prepare my lunch and dress, we have a cup of coffee and plan our day. It is a great way to begin each day. Soon, I will be retired and we will no doubt have a new pattern. But mostly, it will be to be with each other.

  60. Have you read the Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami’s memoir about running and writing? “What I Talk About When I Talk About Running” I highly recommend it, it deals with this exact subject.

  61. May 20, 2011

    Michelle

    I quit my management job 2 months ago now. I have kept my old routine, I still get up to run every day and am usually starting some work by 9am. I was initially really worried about getting sucked into the day time tv vortex (I don’t have cable anyway) or napping all the time, I haven’t allowed myself to slack off at all in the two months, some days are more wasteful than others but having structure and goals for each day has really helped. The AONC book was one of the first books I read after I left my job and I loved it, it was so appropriate for me at that time. And as for running it’s all true, you run no matter what weather, it’s only hard before you take the first step, after that you’re laughing. And the sense of accomplishment is greater than when its just a boring gray day!

  62. “…what if you didn’t have the obligation; what would you get out of bed in the mornings for if it was completely up to you?”

    I think this one line just gave me an entirely new perspective on my struggle to get out of bed every day. I rarely get up early but when I do it always ends up being a good day. This reminds me of Ken Robinson’s “The Element.” Find your passion and live life embracing it. Even if you have to go to a job you hate, get up an hour earlier to spend it doing what you really love.

  63. “There is no such thing as bad weather, just soft people.”- Bill Bowerman
    One of my favorite running quotes! I tend to use the weather as an excuse… not proud of it!
    This post was very timely for me. I currently don’t have a good answer to your question-why do you get up in the morning?… but I’m determined to change that. I allowed my perceived misfortunes to get the best of me this past week… but it’s Monday, and that’s over now. Thanks, Chris!

    dara

  64. Thanks Chris. Just the thing I needed to hear.

  65. My answer to this question has changed recently. I used to love my job – LOVE it. I got out of bed in the morning because I was excited to get to work with the kids and parents and partners and create this amazing one-of-a-kind program. Lately, though, the intellectual stimulation and excitement have diminished because a lot of the creation part is over.

    Now I just get out of bed for the kids. Eleven to fourteen year olds kids are so much fun. I get out of bed because I don’t want to miss a single day being a part of their lives.

    The question for me right now is, is this enough? Or do I need to find work that has that intellectual stimulation component?

  66. Research and my experience (ex Head of Talent for 2 very large multinationals) shows that most people get out of bed to pay the bills and the mortgage.

    They forget that they have a choice.

    As the actress Lily Tomlin once said, “Even if you win the rat race, you’re still a rat.”

  67. May 29, 2011

    Valbona

    This post is a great reminder that goals are never easy to achieve, but you have to make it as easy for your body and mind to take on the challenge. I get up every morning for some exercise as I remind myself how good I will feel the rest of the day having done this and not worrying about missing out on any after work activities to work out.

  68. I am taking on a challenge to run the 56 mile Edinburgh to Glasgow Double Marathon in april 2012. THAT’S what gets me out of bed in the morning. Not only to prove it to myself, but to prove it to the naysayers (including family) who think it’s a waste of time and that my efforts are fruitless. I am doing it because it’s going to be the hardest mental (yes, mental. Physical is the easy part.) challenge I’ve ever undertaken. I just started a blog and I’d love to have your support.

    I will be sure to post a link to this article since it is so applicable. (P.S. This is the first posting of yours I have read. I’m hooked!)

  69. I work out every morning, or at least that’s the plan. I meet my girlfriend at the gym or at the local yoga class and we wake-up together. If either one of us had a late night, or is too tired these morning workouts would be canceled. Now, I could go without her….right. But I don’t. It’s like the weather. It’s an excuse to not go. So… I need to go rain or shine. Friend or no friend. This week I went every morning. She said she can’t make it tomorrow. But I am going! :) Thanks for the inspiration. I also like green drinks in the morning.

  70. December 29, 2011

    Pauline Norcross Nawroth

    At the age of 83, I find myself not focused. Maybe it is because I
    desire new things all the time. New people to speak with. New ones to learn what they are doing, who they are and are they contributing to mankind. Maybe that is the selfish thing about me but I seek newness. And a lot more. I am a dreamer and want a new and a happy dream to come true each day. Sharing thoughts and perhaps learning and adding them to my already crowded life seem to me to be what I want and need. Who can judge if I’m right or wrong?
    Make way! Here I come! Try to understand this hunger that is
    driving me wild! I really want to LIVE until I die. Not for a long time should my time here be over….I pray. Pauline

Leave a Reply



 characters available