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The Reward Game

January 9, 2013 by Laura

I must have this conversation 50 times a week:

Child: I want x (nice thing not in child’s best interest).
Me: Hmmm… well, you really need to do y (tedious task). How about when you finish y, you can have a little x?
Child: NOOOOOOOOOOO!!!! It’s too hard! I’m too tired to do y. I just want x.
Me: C’mon, I’ll help you if you just start it. You start, and I’ll join in and finish up with you, and then you can have x.
Child: NOOOOOOO!!! This is so stupid! I hate you. why won’t you just give me x???
Me: Look, if you had started doing y, you would already be done by now, and you’d have x.

And this is just what goes on in my head when I have to go running, but would rather have a beer, or some such thing. I won’t tell you how it ends, but you can imagine how it is when the boys are home. And I wonder where they get it.

Yesterday I got all duded up in the Lycra and managed not to go running. Ever supportive, Dale asked, “Hon, did you run today?”
“Sweetheart, I really want you to reach your goal, and I’m really concerned that you’re not going to.”
“Go away, I don’t want to talk about it.”
“Laura, how are you going achieve this?”

Seriously, I am insane. This is what happens when I go off the coffee cold turkey. But that’s another post.

I did run today. Thirty minutes of run/walk in the previously described manner. Week 2, day 2 of the c25k. It is getting somewhat better. I notice that it is easier if I am not thinking, “Okay, how many more seconds??” with every running step. Occasionally I catch myself just running along for a minute (well, 4 seconds).

Today I made a deal with myself that I could buy a new running shirt at the end of week 6: a reward. Dale, who is the super-ego to my id, says that in order to build a new habit, you should reward yourself immediately after doing the activity you want to um… habitualize (is that a word?) (And did I mention that Dale is Mr. Good Ideas Guy? He knows how to get better at everything. He reads about how to get better at things, and then he takes all that advice, and then he does the things they say, and then he gets better at things! It’s nuts!). So in order to turn running into a habit, I started eating a bit of chocolate when I finish up. Valrhona Manjari. Dale tells me he read that it builds neural pathways. So that’s why I’m doing it. Really. Eventually, says self-improved Dale, I’ll have my brain all trained up to look forward to running.

Maybe I should eat chocolate after folding the laundry.

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