discipline for the undisciplined

Jane Reneau is a friend of mine from Camp Wiregrass (the church camp I went to every summer from 1st grade until after college).  But she’s not guest posting on my blog because of Camp Wiregrass (as wonderful a place as it is); she’s posting because she’s a runner.  A passionate one at that.  And I believe running is good for people.  I want you to be a runner (or a better one, if you already are one).  And Janie’s just the gal to convince you.  [Though her words here today will be beneficial to anyone seeking discipline in any area of life.]


Janie’s first marathon was in Los Angeles in 2003; she was 23-years old at the time.  She’s now run 22 marathons in 19 states.  She completed that first marathon in 5:26, and her current personal record is 3:58 (but I believe she’ll set a new record this month).  Janie runs between 40 and 55 miles a week, and has run two 40-plus mile trail runs.  She dabbles in triathlons and lives in Huntsville, Alabama, with her husband (a 2:38 marathoner) and her dog (who prefers short sprints).  Janie blogs here.



When Brett asked me to write about running, he brought up the topic of discipline and how it comes into play. I had to chuckle a little bit.  While many runners are, in fact, disciplined athletes with resolve of stone, I am not one of these people.  Disciplined I am not.  I eat too many sweets.  I don’t read my Bible as much as I should.  I don’t send out the birthday cards I vow to send each year, I don’t mop the floors regularly, and I’d rather sit on the couch and watch TV than do the dishes.

When it comes to the sport of running, however, I am up at 5:00 a.m. to pound the pavement.  I run almost every day no matter how tired I might be, how cold it is, or how much my body may complain (within reason, of course).  Some call this discipline.  Some call this obsession.  I call it pure enjoyment.

I absolutely love to run.  It brings me great joy and fulfillment, makes me feel strong, fit, and healthy, draws me closer to my Creator, and makes me an overall better person.  I love to run races and I prefer to run them well.  This makes the commitment to a rigorous training plan possible.  It is, simply put, what I love to do.

Despite how much I enjoy it, however, there are still days when I don’t want to go. Days when I have to cajole and berate and force myself to lace up my tennis shoes and get out the door.  I have to dig deep and rummage around for any hint of discipline there might be, dust it off and take it with me.

So how does that work, exactly?  How do you find the discipline to do something you don’t want to do, but know you should?

I’m going to tell you what works for me. I’m also going to say that these tips can apply to any type of fitness goal, not just running.  Running is not for everyone, but I do believe health and fitness is.

  1. Find something you love. This is key.  Like I said with running, I LOVE it.  So it is not so difficult to be disciplined on days when I am not feeling it.  If you hate running and are forcing yourself to do it anyway…and failing, you might want to find something else.  Swimming.  Racquetball.  Cycling.  Jump roping.  Dog walking.  Find what you enjoy.  That is the first step.
  2. Incorporate the buddy system. It may sound silly, but when I know I’m meeting a friend or two, I will be there.  It is harder to back out on someone else than it is to back out on yourself.  Make a gym date.  Find a running partner.  Walk with a co-worker at lunch.  Get a dog or borrow your neighbor’s.
  3. Plan ahead and be prepared. When I know I’m getting up early in the morning to run (which is most days), I set my clothes out the night before.  All I have to do at 5:00 in the morning is put them on.  If I know I might want to go the gym after work, I pack my bag the night before and stick it in the car.  My yoga mat lives in my car, so if the notion to attend a yoga class occurs to me, I’m ready to go.  Make it easy on yourself to be disciplined.  Don’t predict backing out.  Predict going.  You will live up to what you predict.
  4. Keep motivation around. Magazine articles.  Motivational quotes on sticky notes.  A picture of the goal you are trying to reach.  Music that gets you going.  The internet provides a plethora of this stuff.  When I’m feeling unmotivated, all I have to do is go to Runnersworld.com or a running blog and read for a minute.  Sometimes while I’m getting dressed to run, I put on a pump-me-up song to help me get going.  I also have these songs on my ipod shuffle to accompany me on a run to keep me going.  Surround yourself with positive motivators that remind you of what you want and what you like to do.
  5. Fake it ‘til you make it. Sometimes just going through the motions is all you’ve got.  There have been days when I have gotten dressed, walked outside, stood in the driveway for a minute and gone back inside.  Sometimes you just don’t have it.  Believe it or not, that is okay.  So, your buddy couldn’t meet you at yoga and you didn’t go either.  That does not mean you should give it up.  That simply means tomorrow is a new day.  It doesn’t have to be January 1 for you to start anew.  It can be a Monday in March.  Don’t give up on yourself for one bad day or even a bad week.

These tips aren’t for the die-hard disciplined.  They are for average Jane’s like me (pun sort of intended there) and like you.  These bodies we have are amazing and can do amazing things.  Just as with everything we have in this life, I believe we are to be good stewards of our bodies as well.  They are one of the many gifts God has given us, and taking care of them is important.  Everything you desire to do in life is made easier if you are healthy.  Whether it is being a missionary in a foreign country, tutoring kids after work each day, raising good kids of your own, working hard at your current career – it is all made easier by a strong, healthy body.

So get out there and get after it.  You won’t ever regret it.



Filed under guest posts, running, sports

8 responses to “discipline for the undisciplined

  1. Uggggh. All this talk of discipline and I can hardly find the energy to get out of bed to do the stuff I HAVE to do. Does anybody besides me in the world simply have a body that WON’T cooperate?

  2. Those are great principles that can easily be applied to Christian disciplines as well. My favorites are #3 & #5.

    Plan ahead- put your Bible out on the coffee table or your favorite chair so that when you wake up it’s ready to go. My wife and I got a Keurig for Christmas. Have that set to brew in the morning when you wake up, or just grab a K-cup and brew a cup for while you read.

    Fake it- while it is sad to admit, sometimes the best way to get through an adversity in faith is to continue going through the motions and looking forward to a brighter day. It is in those periods of time that God can really teach us some amazing lessons. So persevere through those times, even if you have to fake it a bit to make it through. God’s grace is perfected in our weakness.

    Thanks for the encouragement! BTW- I really enjoy sprint interval workouts, but your words inspire me to get back out there. Thanks.

    • That is so true, Stan! Those can apply to just about anything – I did not think about that part. 🙂

      I do not enjoy sprint interval workouts, but I am going to be doing some in the warmer months. THAT will be the true test of just how disciplined I can be. Thanks for reading!

      • I have a buddy who is a physical fitness trainer. He says that sprint intervals can get your heart pumping around 200 bpm and that has the capability to burn calories for 72 hours. I was sold. =) Hope the workouts go well for you.

  3. Great thoughts Jane. I have been wanting to get back into running for years – I played soccer my entire life, until I left college. That was a;ldkfjds years ago, and I’ve been finding it really difficult to take it back up. I think the problem is, I wait for the perfect time to go do it, when I really should just take my first run right now.

    But I’ve already showered today.

  4. Yeah, you’ve got to cut out that showering. It just gets in the way. 😉

  5. Great principles, Jane! I can see them applying to blogging as well. Thanks for the encouragement!

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