“Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work.”

Stephen King, On Writing

Road Racing used to have a season to it, much like every other sport. It would begin with the Boston Marathon in April, then a series of summer handicap races with tables full of prizes, and culminating with the Yonkers Marathon and maybe a Turkey Trot. Most runners would take December off.

John Kelley rarely took December off. Not that he trained like a madman– he trained modestly even for his time: mostly 5-6 days a week with a long run every other weekend and track workouts only during the summer. He trained year-round however, and– because of his modest schedule– never got injured.

Johnny Kelley epitomized consistency. Each year he showed up at the Boston Marathon in roughly the same shape as the year before. Most years, he came in the top five. Seven times he finished second. Twice he won. Most of his opponents succumbed to injury or eventually retired, but not Johnny. He still finished in the top ten in his fifties, and ran it for the last time at age 84.

Consistency, like patience, provides more opportunities for success. It also provides experience– you get a little stronger, a little smarter, simply by keeping at it.

I used to run every day. When it rained, I ran. When it snowed, I ran. I ran through hurricanes, cyclones, poverty and heartbreak. I ran at summertime high noon and wintertime one am. I ran when I felt good; I ran when I felt awful; I ran in airports; I ran in gas stations.

Not always in a feverish frenzy to hit a mileage quota, but to combat nearly insurmountable laziness. Armed with carefully cultivated consistency (or compulsion), I simply stopped asking myself “am I going to run today?”

I take Sundays off, now, but because carefully cultivated compulsion has calcified.

Most of running isn’t fun. The fun part is improving, a result of the not-fun part: training. It is impossible to be motivated every day to do the work necessary to improve. Take motivation out of it entirely and simply be consistent.