Posted by: Sue D. Gelber | May 31, 2012

Self-discipline: Yet Another Thing to be Outsourced

When it comes to running, I lack self-discipline. Sure, I run every day, so I manage to get myself laced up and out the door, but I don’t always stick to my training plan. If I’m scheduled to do a seven mile run, sometimes I’ll stop at mile six. Or five. Or one. Even when I manage to put in all the miles, I frequently run those miles WAY slower than I should.

When I run, I’m like a 10-year-old with ADD in a toy store, paying attention to everything and nothing. “Hey, look at that! I wonder what kind of bird that is. Boy, check out those clouds. Is going to rain? Wow, what an enormous house! I wonder how much it costs. Oh, look at the cute dog. What kind of dog is that? Maybe we should get one. Wave to the car going by! Hey, I know that person. Wait, who was it? Let me think.” Then I look down and realize I’m doing 13-minute miles. Not exactly the “tempo run” that was on the schedule.

I skip runs, cut my mileage short, and run too slowly: all clear signs that I lack self-discipline. But then I had a thought: what if I outsourced it?

These days, you can outsource pretty much anything. Housecleaning, lawn mowing, closet organizing, resume writing. Heck, you can even hire someone to manage your social media or pick up dog poop (two tasks that, given the stuff I see on Twitter sometimes, have some commonality). We don’t even have to come up with our own petty drama anymore. We have “Real Housewives.”

So why not outsource my self-discipline when it comes to running?

No, not by hiring a mean whistle-blowing, tracksuit-wearing coach to yell at me while I do laps (although that’s a good idea), but by using races for my training runs. For example, last weekend I was supposed to do a 10 mile run on Saturday. Could I have slogged through a run on my own? Probably, but I would have been slow, and I may very well have stopped at mile eight. So instead, I did the Soldier Field 10-Miler, a race I’ve done before and loved. The benefits? Several. I got myself out of bed and out the door far earlier than I would have otherwise. I didn’t have to worry about carrying water with me, or mapping out a route that would take me near a bathroom. I didn’t dare cut my mileage short, lest I risk being called a cheater. And most of all, being surrounded by speedy runners made me run substantially faster than I would have on my own. Probably two minutes per mile faster.

I’m hooked on it. In fact, all my long runs so far this season have been part of races. The major drawback, of course, is that it’s costing me an arm an a leg. But at least I’m getting my miles in, and I have a vast array of race t-shirts to show for it. Alas, they are all the wrong size, since I still have yet to master the art of race-shirt sizing.

So far, so good, and I plan to stick with it until the cash runs out. Or until my race-shirt collection gets too big for my closet. And then I guess I’ll start looking for that coach with the sweat pants and the loud whistle.


  1. You always make me smile 🙂 thank you!

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