There are so many days that I think, “I wish there was a magic pill to make me feel better. Something that would take care of my mind, body and soul all in one quick dose.”
Well, unfortunately there isn’t, but there is one thing that does help my mind, body and soul.
It is that one thing that I can do and I know when I am done, I will feel better.
The problem is actually making the time to do it and then just doing it!
The past several months, every time I have gotten out the door, I think of my sister (creating your own health & happiness). She literally went from couch potato to running a mini-marathon in a 5-month period and then completed two more mini’s within the next few months.
She started from scratch and she is my motivation.
Lately, every time I run, it’s a constant struggle. If I’m honest with myself, it has been a struggle since 2002. It was the year that my life started becoming extremely busy and I stopped making it a priority. I was working full-time, in graduate school full-time, had a full-time internship, was planning a wedding, had a hefty social schedule, and was spending too much time driving to visit my fiance who lived an hour away.
Life was busier. I wasn’t working as a Health/Fitness Instructor who could exercise at work. I wasn’t leading a mini-marathon training program. If I was going to run, I had to make it a priority and I didn’t.
I have struggled ever since. Each time I do get out there I feel like I am a new runner because it is hard. But, in my mind I am still the runner I used to be. I still think I should be able to go out and train for a marathon by myself, without music. Just me, myself and I. Running for hours.
Then I think about my sister and remind myself that it is OK to start from scratch. It doesn’t matter how great you were in the past. Or if you never ran a day in your life. All that matters is that you put on your shoes and take the first step out the door.
And if you only go a few minutes, that is OK, too. It is better than staying inside on the couch.
I emailed my sister one day after a rough attempted run and asked –
“Top 5 things that got you going from couch to mini ??”
She gave me six…..
1) The number one most important thing that I ever did was run slow. I would say if you typically run a 10 min/mile then for at least the first month slow it down to a 12 min/mile. Even when you start to feel like it is too easy running that slow keep doing it. I honestly think that being forced to run slow with some of the BoMF guys was what got me over the initial hump of sticking with running. Even now if I run too fast it doesn’t feel fun and I don’t want to keep doing it. RUN SLOW!
2) Download an app on your phone to track your runs. I have RunKeeper and have always liked it. This is important for a lot of different reasons……you will always have a tendency to run faster than you should so tracking your pace with an app is crucial and it is always really motivating to see your progress in front of you.
3) Keep your breath. Not being able to keep your breath steady is probably the biggest reason people don’t keep up with running. It is the worst feeling and nothing about it is comfortable or fun so of course no one would want to keep doing it. So to help with that go back to #1 and start slow. That will help strengthen your lungs gradually. But I also found that breathing through my nose and trying to fill my stomach with air really helps to keep my breathing under control. Whenever I lose my breath I always kind of panic and start breathing even harder, so this helps to stop that from happening and allows me to continue with my run without having to stop to catch my breath.
4) Lift weights and stretch. I was never very good at either but both are super important. Any kind of leg press etc.. is awesome for running. Whenever I stuck with lifting I always felt like my runs were MUCH easier. The stronger your legs are the more you can focus on other aspects of your body, like strengthening your breathing. Lifting also helps to prevent injuries, as does stretching.
5) Join a running group. I have spent my entire life thinking that doing things alone is the best option, but it is definitely no coincidence that I was never able to stick with running until I joined a running group. The camaraderie that comes with other runners is invaluable when it comes to sticking with it. It is so easy to talk yourself into stopping when you are alone, but when you are with a group you never want to be the only one to stop so you just don’t. Feeling like you have a group of people that care about you and who will keep you accountable is really huge. Plus, it is a good way to make new friends!
6) Good music!!! When I am feeling like I want to quit and a good song comes on I forget all about wanting to stop….at least until the song is almost over and I have to go through the whole process again. haha. My go to is Avicii on Pandora, but just find something that gets you pumped up. Make sure to keep in mind that it is really important to have all the gadgets so that you aren’t constantly feeling distracted by holding your phone etc…. Getting an arm band made a huge difference for me. I also found myself getting annoyed with my headphones a lot so if you don’t have wireless ones what was helpful for me was sticking the cord through my t-shirt so that the cord was under my shirt and not flying around. Sounds like a small thing but it really made running more enjoyable.
I love all of these because they are so realistic and they obviously have worked! I have a few more to round out our 10 tips…
7) Plan. When life is busy, like it is for most of us, it is helpful to schedule running on the calendar like any other appointment you have. Most of the time, if it’s not scheduled, it won’t happen. Even better is to have times planned with a running group or running buddy. Accountability is the best!
8) Don’t be afraid to walk. Walking is easier than running, but it is still really good for you! It is also an integral part of any training program, especially a beginners program. Sometimes it’s easier to get out the door if you know you can always walk if running seems too hard or if it is a bad day. I know it is for me!
9) Keep a Positive Attitude. I’ll admit, this is my go-to for everything, but it works! Don’t think of running as something you to HAVE to do, think of it as something amazing and simple that you CAN do to feel great – to lift your mood, improve your health, get you out of a rut, gain confidence, increase your strength, and reduce your risk of disease.Maybe even change your life. Exercise IS medicine!
10) Be Proud of Yourself! No matter how much or how little you run, be proud of yourself each time you go. Don’t beat yourself up for not going fast enough or long enough or hard enough. Listen to your body. There are always bad days, but that is OK, because there are great days, too. And the more you train, the easier it will be and the goods days will outweigh the bad. The more you associate a positive experience with running, the more you will want to do it! Love yourself for doing something great for your mind, body and soul!
My goal is to eventually get back to the point when I can run alone and without music. But, for now I am starting from scratch. I am going to schedule my runs on the calendar, grab my iPhone to listen to Pandora during the running and download a juicy book on tape to listen to while I walk.
That is my plan….and I’m not going to wait until January 1. I’m going to start it during the craziest time of the year – when my sanity needs it most! What about you?
Are you a runner? Do you remember when you first started? What are your tips? Do you let exercise go during the holidays or need it to stay sane?!