Absurd Disciplines

“Uncommon disciplines lead to uncommon results” was today’s quote of the day, a tradition at the beginning of every practice.  If I forget to deliver the quote of the day, the boys remind me before they get on their way with 2 laps around the park we gather in to do what I call the “Kenyan shuffle”-a very slow warm-up jog run together as a team before beginning 25 minutes of dynamic drills with some calisthenics thrown in for good measure.

We’ve been meeting 5 or more days/week for 5 weeks now throughout the summer in preparation for the upcoming Cross Country season.  As I stood in front of the 16 boys in attendance this morning at 6:15 a.m. after they had run their 2 lap “Kenyan shuffle”, I was inspired to expound a bit on today’s quote of the day.

What is discipline?  Many of us have our own ideas about the word, but to me it incorporates a few other “Ds” as well.  Discipline starts, but doesn’t end with decision.  When my alarm went off at 3:25 a.m. this morning, I had a quick decision to make which I now make unthinkingly because I’ve made it so many mornings before.  Do I get up?  Heck YEAH!  Why?  Because I made a decision many years ago that fitness is going to be a way of life for me.  My approach to fitness over the years has taken many forms, but it is a part of every day.

Discipline does the work when we don’t feel like it.  How does this work?  We have learned from William James (“We must…go through the outward movements of those contrary dispositions which we prefer to cultivate.”) and others in psychology that feeling follows action.  We simply can’t wait to take action until we “feel like it.”  I explained to the boys that I wasn’t necessarily “feeling it” this morning as I rolled out of my car into 24 Hour Fitness, but I made a decision.  I made a decision, as I tweeted later,  to live this day in answer to the question: “How much kindness can I spread today?” and it started with the first person I saw exiting the gym as I greeted him with a smile, kind word and a hand shake.  It followed with the same for the young man working the front desk and before I knew it, I was “feeling it”!

Disciplined decision making begins with doing.  Discipline leads to action.  Hopefully that action is built on a vision of who, what, where, why you want to BE.  And this is why we run.  Competitive distance running is one of the greatest metaphors for life.  As yesterday’s quote of the day by Coach Bill Bowerman goes: “Men of Oregon, I invite you to become students of your events.  Running, one might say, is basically an absurd past-time upon which to be exhausting ourselves.  But if you find meaning, in the kind of running you have to do to stay on this team; chances are you will be able to find meaning in another absurd past-time: life.”

For many, the uncommon disciplines that you practice will seem absurd and hard to understand, but then again, so will the results you produce!  Cheers to discipline, decision, and doing!  Have a great day!

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