When I decided I wanted to start running, I couldn’t run for two minutes without feeling like I was about to pass out. This summer, I ran 100 miles in one month.
Before I started running regularly, I was working out off and on. I’d be super gungho on a Sunday night promising myself I’d start my workout plan that week. I’d go to the gym on Monday, then again on Tuesday and by Wednesday I was “taking a break” and I’d end up not going anymore for weeks or months.
At the end of last year, I decided to get serious about getting in shape. I put some workout songs on my iPod, got some cheap fitness clothes from TJ Maxx, and committed to going to the gym for 21 days straight. They say it takes eighteen days to form a habit and six weeks of diet & exercise to see a substantial change in your body, so my 21 day goal fell somewhere in there. I figured, if I could go to the gym every day for three weeks, why not six, or 18 weeks?
Those three weeks turned into months.
I started off saying I would go every single day because I noticed that if I told myself that I would go three times a week then I could always push it to “tomorrow”. If I said I was going to go every single day, then I didn’t have a “tomorrow” to push it to. Granted, I did skip some days because I accidentally slept in, or I had just gotten my hair straightened, or I really needed a rest. In the end, making an effort to go every day resulted in me going roughly four to five times per week.
I had been running on the treadmill for about a month when I decided to try running outside. If you’re used to running on the treadmill then running outdoors can be tough and vice versa. Even though I could run a mile on a treadmill at this point, I would get seriously winded outside after running for, like, thirty seconds. I kept going though and soon I could make it through a (short) song on my iPod. Eventually, I built up to being able to run a mile without stopping.
Once I was able to run a mile, that became my workout plan. I would push through it, stretch, do some crunches or pushups and then go home. However, one day I noticed that after running a mile, I was dying but by the time I walked to my car, I was fine. In fact, I actually felt like I could run some more. I decided to try it. I would run a mile, take a break to stretch a little bit and then run some more. The results were amazing. Once I got that first mile out of the way, I could run another and maybe even another until I was running three miles total in one morning. I used to think it didn’t count if I stopped, but it does. If I run two miles without stopping or run two miles total but stop five times, I’ve still run two miles. Running is running.
This works well too because running a mile is hard. No matter how much I stretch, warm-up, whatever, that first mile is a killer. I’ve run 13 miles once and I swear the first mile was harder than the last one. So, I get the mile out of the way, stop, stretch, catch my breath, and then run some more. I kept doing that throughout my run and eventually built up to running five miles total on a consistent basis.
The great thing about running is that it gives a sense of accomplishment and control when other things in life seem out of control. It’s also great time to be alone to think, pray and simply zone out.
For those looking to get in shape, I highly recommend running. All you need is a good sports bra, a pair of running shoes and a moisture wicking shirt (for heavy perspiration). You can do it on your own time and at your own pace, with friends or by yourself, indoors or outdoors. The activity is said to help prevent all sorts of diseases from breast cancer to osteoporosis. It also helps promote weight loss, eliminates stress, and boosts confidence. Personally, I think running is a “magic pill”. It’s given me more energy throughout the day and an increased sex drive.
The CDC recommends we get thirty minutes of exercise a day. Though a beginner certainly can’t run thirty full minutes, even running for just two minutes is better than zero. It’s not about speed or distance, but about taking care of our bodies. They say running burns more calories than virtually every other exercise. You don’t need any fancy workout videos, memberships, equipment or even a ton of time. So, if you’ve been thinking about getting out there and running, consider this a sign!
Start small with just a quarter mile or less. Running takes time to build up — weeks, months and years!– but keep at it. Eventually, you’ll be running more than you ever thought you could and may end up in the best shape of your life.
What do you think about running?
Follow Alissa on Twitter @AlissaInPink
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