I'm not going to tell you to go run (or swim, hike, walk, or whatever). If you're on the couch, into a second beer, halfway through a bag of chips, and depressed, I'm sorry and will do you this favor: I won't tell you it all gets better when you get up and moving. Screw that. About all that's likely to do is piss you off.
There are good thinkers I read regularly. Leo Babauta is my favorite. Trigger warning: most of these are self-help people. Self-help is a laughable category, but sometimes I need someone to help me help myself. You know?
Most of this year those thinkers haven't gotten me to move far or often. At least physically. Mentally, I'm no longer in a terrible teaching job partly due to things I read. But physically it has been a different story.
I've been a runner for a while. Last year I ran thirty-five miles in loops run with a different friend or pair of friends. Last spring and summer I ran five or ten miles most every day to get ready for the big run. I was as motivated as I've ever been. Running was natural.
This year, not so much. I mean to run, but haven't made the time, haven't gotten into a routine, haven't set up a schedule. Not that I want a training plan. Even last year I didn't have any plan other than to run most every day. I'd head out the door, start my watch, then let my whim decide whether to turn right or left at the corner. I don't need a plan. I don't have goals. I just know I'm happier when I run.
Don't worry. I'm still not going to say that you will be happier if you run. Who the hell am I to decide that? And who wants to hear that crap? Not me.
I've meant to run. I've wanted to run. I just haven't run. And no amount of motivation has worked on me. Not the numbers on the scale, the aches in my potato body, or the understanding that running makes me feel better. None of it has worked.
But in the last seven days I've run four times.
My daughter joined her high school cross country team. She has friends on the team and needs the spirit of belonging to a team. She got the usual August mailing from the dance studio listing classes they'll allow her to take. Looking at it her face kind of fell. She likes dance but hasn't much enjoyed the dance school. It's a different kind of spirit. One that hasn't served her. She's going to run cross country in search of a different spirit. Last week she joined the team but her forms hadn't been processed.
"Coach says I should start running each day until I'm cleared to join the team. Will you go for a run with me?"
You bet your ass I will.
If you're feeling unmotivated and depressed, I'm sorry. I have no words of encouragement or life hacks. My solution involved my wife and I deciding to have a second child sixteen years ago. That might be longer planning than you're in for.
Still, nothing moves me more than my girl asking for time with her. She wants me to run with her? I'm in shorts and strapping on my sandals. Last year I ran thirty-five miles. If she asked me to go thirty-five today, I'd run until I couldn't any more. That's motivation.
Don't take this as advice, but if you're on the couch, maybe go see what your kid wants to do with you. Self-help turns out to be easy when it's not so much about the self.