Become a User

Come on... You know you want to.

Marathons I have completed: 1

Marathons I ever expected (or wanted) to complete: 0

Half marathon I will run in a week and a half to keep up my street cred: 1

My dad came to a stunning and horrifying conclusion when I was entering first grade: I was excited about heading back to school not for the academics, but for the social scene.

For better or for worse, this realization spoke volumes about my future motivations and accomplishments. Social interaction could motivate me to do lots of fun noble stuff.

Some people might call this peer pressure. Like the time when my friend told me I had to learn how to tie my own shoes after naptime because she wasn’t interested in being my servant anymore. So I bought only shoes with buckles, and they became the height of kindergarten fashion.

But I was not only the recipient of the pressure; I could dish it out, too. Also in kindergarten, I rounded up a few of my gang members and led them over to the Kitchen Center. I had decided it would be fun to cut our hair with safety scissors. I’m pretty sure my mom had said I had some split ends, and I was nothing but helpful when a task was at hand.

I wasn’t secretive about it; I probably would have asked the teacher if she wanted to take part, if only she had been paying attention. I was stunned when she and my mom didn’t approve of my vision.

Or the time when I missed learning borrowing in subtraction because the first grade teacher stuck us in the back of the classroom partially behind a chalkboard and expected us to care enough about a math thing I was sure I’d never use. I mean, grown-ups always used calculators, and I was destined to become a grown-up one day.

Problem was, I think I maybe influenced a couple crowd of other kids to draw cool monster pictures during those lessons, too. We are all now famous writers. Kind of.

Luckily for me, my minor mishaps in both being a pusher and a push-ee ended well.

I’ve noticed, though, that even as a grown-up I can be both influential and impressionable, in equal parts.

In September 2010, my BFF/running partner dropped a bomb.

Her: So, I’m going to sign up for a marathon in the spring.

Me: Wow! Good for you!

Her: And I thought you might want to run it with me… but no pressure.

Me: Yeah, I’m not really interested in running a marathon. I’m good with, you know, half marathons, and, like, 5 milers. Maybe while you’re training, I could do part of your long runs with you for support.

Her: Sure, yeah. That would be great…. So, I’ve already bought the parking pass, which makes parking at the marathon super-easy.

Me: Well, good for you.

Her: Sure will be dark when I get there in early March. And here I am, used to running with a partner…

Me: Yeah. But I’m sure the running community will be friendly and talk to a lonely fellow runner. No biggie.

Her: And on those long runs, I’ll need someone to protect me from killer squirrels…

Me: Dangit.

And that’s how I ended up running 26.2 miles. It was peer pressure, pure and simple.

Another annoying piece of evidence that peer pressure can get you to do stuff, even as a self-assured, middle-aged person: my writing group keeps expecting me to submit, like, writing. And they kind of want it to be good writing. This is a problem when I feel like I have been writing: blogs, work articles, letters, tax forms… But here comes yet another meeting, and they get all writer-y on me, thinking I’ve been making headway on a doomed re-write.

Guess what I’ll do? Re-write it.

As your blogging buddy, I would urge each and every one of you to become a user: use those pushy people thoughtful friends to encourage you. Whether it’s the next race, the next short story, the next novel or a better job, use them to turn your internal motivation dial one or two notches higher. You won’t regret it… except maybe if you use safety scissors to create the latest layered look.

12 thoughts on “Become a User

  1. crubin says:

    26.2 miles. That is impressive. I enjoy a great workout, but I suspect if I ran 26.2 miles, I would have no knee cartilage left. 🙂

  2. jmmcdowell says:

    My exercise routines include aerobics, cycling, pilates, core work, walks, weights, but … no running. Knees and ankles would be locked in place in to time!

    • annewoodman says:

      (I knew what you meant. ; ) I am actually struggling with my dreaded core work… my shoulders are weak and always hurt when I do planks. Any suggestions? I need a core work peer pressure person. ; )

      • jmmcdowell says:

        I had to build up to them over time. Do you use them with T-stands? I think that one-armed stand builds up the shoulder strength more quickly. Maybe alternating the weight-bearing with the stretching motion helps.

        When I started them, I couldn’t hold the T for more than a few seconds. But it wasn’t long before it was 10 seconds, then 20, … And now it isn’t too hard to hold the plank position without getting sore shoulders.

  3. jmmcdowell says:

    Let’s try NO time in that last sentence!

  4. babin101 says:

    I totally agree pier pressure can make you do a lot of things – scary isn’t it- so I loved this post!!!

  5. Stephanie says:

    Haha! When I taught first grade, one of my boys – with beautiful blond curls – chopped off his entire fringe because it was getting in his eyes. Mom was NOT impressed. But I thought he looked pretty cute when he came in with a buzzcut the next day!

    • annewoodman says:

      That’ll teach her to keep his hair trimmed! I kind of love that about kids–they’re completely unpredictable and often don’t understand why what they did might be an issue.

  6. Tania says:

    One of my best friends Jana started running after her divorce. She’s now run a couple of marathons (including NY) and participated in relays in Vegas, joins running clubs. She was always fit (dancer/yoga) but never expected she’d get into running. So far, the most she’s inspired me to do is wear a pedometer (she’s participating in a billion step challenge online hosted by her former trainer). I do think announcing you’re gonna do something with a group does help push, also helps bring you back around when things don’t go as planned when it would be so easy to just say or forget it already. Run Anne Run!

    • annewoodman says:

      I definitely think that running is not for everyone. But I think the concept can apply to most anything you do. And whenever I’m not able to run anymore, I’ll take up Pilates or Barre or something else and set some goals there. I think it will be interesting to see what your pedometer says.

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