Get Your Shoes On, Get Out The Door

ShoesI’m running an ultramarathon in order to build a school in Guatemala and provide education for 1,000 students.

An ultra marathon: 50 kilometers. That’s 31 miles.

I’d love to say I’m able to just run out the door and do 31 miles just like that – but it actually involves quite a bit of training.

I’ve traded in my HIIT training for long distance runs. And 30 minute workouts for 1-3 hour runs. It’s a very strange to think you’re going to leave at 4:30 and not get back until 8:00 or later. But if you’ve decided to discipline yourself to do something, you just do it.

Nevertheless, the hardest part is always starting.

Once you start, you ‘re as good as done. You never get 3 miles away from home and decide to stop. Even if you do, you’re still 3 miles away from home, so you might as well run back the 3 miles.

But while you’re sitting in your house, you don’t get any closer. You just start hypothesizing about the times you’ll eventually start.

  • I’ll start after I get to inbox zero.
  • I’ll start after I watch my favorite tv show.
  • Or, my favorite, I’ll just do it later.

The one thing running teaches you is that there isn’t a magic trick, there’s just a routine.

Get your shoes on. Get out the door.

There’s a lot of mediocre reasons not to run 20+ miles.

It’s far. It takes a while. I’m tired. I’m bored. My legs hurt. I don’t feel like it. Blah blah blah.

They all suck as reasons, but are moderately persuasive enough to keep you from actually doing something.

If you’re planning a run, just go. Lace your shoes up and get ou the door. If you wait around inside and barefoot, you’ll never start. But once you’ve got your shoes on and get out the door, you’re on your way.

Put your shoes on. Get out the  door.

Even if you’re not into running, you can still use this with whatever you’re doing.

  • Starting a new fitness program? Set your stopwatch and get after it.
  • Writing a book? Pick your pen. Just freaking write.
  • Starting a business? Pick up the phone, make a cold call.
  • Planning an adventure? Bust out the card and book your flight.
If you need to jump start yourself with cold shower therapy, do it.

Get your shoes on. Get out the door.


Don’t look back until you’re done.

photo credit: Kasper Bennedsen

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  1. Jason Griffith says

    Joel – excellent post. It has always seemed to me that momentum has a huge influence over what any of us can accomplish. If you’re sitting at your desk, plowing through all the awesome Facebook cat pictures on your wall, your momentum makes it hard to break from that task. But once you do, you shift that momentum to something else. In this case, once you get the first step out the door – boom – momentum towards your run. I feel like this pairs with something you wrote recently ( – make some systems to discipline yourself to get stated, and then use your momentum to carry you through the workout.

  2. Andy says

    You are so right, I’m 52, had turned into an unfit walk nowhere always take the car overweight lazy man.
    So today I just got back from day 4’s brisk walk.
    Alternate days 30 mins timed = 6km (approx) and 20 mins timed = 4km approx.
    Heard myself come up with excuses even as I drove to the sea front to start my walk.
    I won!!! The voices lost. I did my walk. Achieved my goal.
    I know its not the same as a Marathon, but as you say, it starts when you get up and start it.
    Thanks for inspiring me.
    One Love

  3. Kathy Brown says

    Very true!!! Feeling inspired is not enough. Eight years ago I watched the marathon runners at the Athens Olympics & thought, ‘I’d like to do one of them by the time I’m 50′. I was then 40. Eight years went by & I’d occasionally think about the fact that I still hadn’t made any inroads on that project, but it was rarely more than a passing thought & I always thought in terms of,’There’s still time. I don’t have the spare time & energy right now.’
    Then I discovered ‘Blog of the Impossible’ and I started to realise that I could either fulfill my dreams or come to the end of my life with a heap of ‘what ifs’. At the time I was still carrying a fairly serious shoulder injury that meant running was too painful, but I started walking more & doing some lower body conditioning work. By the time my shoulder healed enough to make a start on running, I was barely able to run round a Cricket oval (about a 1/3 of a kilometre) without having to stop for breath. For several weeks I didn’t seem to get any faster & made no gains on my endurance. But, having made a start, I was determined to push through.
    Last Sunday, despite having had health niggles all through the winter (your summer) I ran a 12k run in just over 1 1/2 hours. Not a marvellous time by most people’s standards, I know, but given how much time off I’ve had due to illness & the fact that in the previous 2 weeks the longest distance I had run was 4k I was well pleased.
    I’m now working towards a half marathon next May & a full marathon by next August, or if next winter turns out like this one, by the following May & fully believe I can do it. It’s no longer a case of ‘I wonder if I could’ but rather ‘I’m doing this, no matter what!’
    Not making excuses & not allowing myself to be distracted was definitely key.

  4. says

    What I love about long distance running is the deep metaphor for life.

    If I go out and get a solid pace going to for 60 minutes I will have a great workout and can cover a lot of ground. But the pacing is a huge deal. I have to hit a speed that is challenging but isn’t too much.

    Just like in life. If I try and do too much then I burnout quick and get no where.

    But the beauty of running only comes with discipline, commitment and focus. The first few runs I take are always painful. But the more I do it, the more I can push myself, the better it feels. I start to notice progress.

    Just like in life :).

    The irony of all of this is that I over did it with running about a month ago and consequentially have stopped running – And about a week ago I had overdone it as I’m working on building a business and I had to check out last weekend.

    But luckily I caught it. I am now training in other ways, and I’m back at an appropriate pace for building my business. Good post Joel.

  5. Ryan says

    As someone who has run 4 marathons and #5 in about a month, I can attest to everything you’ve said. In the past 3 years since I started running, I have ran in rain, high heat, freezing cold, late at night and early in the morning. While going out in some of those extreme’s was rough to think about, all it took was getting my shoes on. Once the shoes are on, its go time. Now running is built into my day, my life and something feels amiss if I have a stretch of a few days off. Build that routine and once you’ve gotten it, there’s no stopping. This applies to everything though, going to the gym, Impossible Ab workout, anything. It takes a little time and patience, but put in the work, don’t cheat yourself and you’ll reach your goal.

  6. davidd says

    “If you’re planning a run, just go. Lace your shoes up and get ou the door. If you wait around inside and barefoot, you’ll never start.”

    I’m peering suspiciously around the room right now, wondering where you’ve planted the hidden camera. I can’t find it, though, so I guess my only other option is to lace up those shoes and go.

    ‘Kay den, catch u laterz!

  7. says

    I used to live on the seafront and my plan was always to run up the promenade until it essentially stopped. When reaching this section, I was a good 3/4 miles away from my starting point and as it was a straight line, I could see it in the distance.

    Just knowing I have all that way to go just to get back home ensured that I ran the distance that I originally wanted.

  8. says

    I love your concept of just getting started. So many people talk about doing something but never follow through by procrastinating. In my opinion the best time to start something important is now not later.

  9. Timo T says

    This post was one of my motivators last fall, when I had started pondering on completing a half distance triathlon.

    On August 23rd I had just ran a Cooper’s test (2400 meters) and was sitting in a pub with my friends and one of them started talking about competing in half distance triathlon. It had been my first proper run in years. Sure I had cycled a lot, swam a bit, but not ran. But I got intrigued.

    Two days later I did a sprint distance triathlon (800m/26K/5K). Cooper had been my “preparation run” for this event. I guess it went ok, but my running was awful at best – the 5K took approximately 32 minutes with heart rate going through the roof.

    By September I had set up a Facebook group with five potential competitors for next summers Finntriathlon. Three people took it seriously. Two others left the group. One of them ran the Paris marathon in April and the other summited Mt. Blanc two weeks ago. Not bad either.

    Less than two weeks later on September 20th I read this post (by first subscribing to the feed after seeing the viral Seattle cafe encounter).

    “Get your shoes on. Get out the door.”

    Well.. that’s what I sort of did. At least I remembered it whenever I was feeling too lazy. Eventually I did not get many kms between that Cooper’s test and this July. 66 km in total with more biking and swimming. Total of 17 runs before the half distance. Not much at all, but more than in the past years.

    In mid-December we three finally committed by signing up for the event.

    Then came July and Finntriathlon.

    My friends did superbly well. One had ran a marathon earlier and the other ran his 1st (Helsinki City Marathon) last weekend. For me? I finished. My stomach had been full of butterflies and I had not dared to eat a bit in the morning of the competition. Eventually I made it through the run, which had been the Achilles’ heel in my preparation.

    Many of my doubted if I could do it, even made bets on which K I will quit. But I started, swam the 1.9K, biked the 90K and then ran my first half marathon on the top. Running could be a bit of exaggerating as it was more of a jog-walk.

    Overall time? Not good at all (7h40′). But I got my shoes on and did it! (on the right)


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