About 6 years ago I decided I needed a regular fitness routine. Reading obituaries and seeing the young ages of the deceased, and hearing stories from friends about various ailments, made me convinced that I needed to keep fit and keep fit, but going to the gym, aerobics classes, etc. didn’t fit into my schedule or budget. My husband has been a regular runner for many years and we did some running together, but I never liked it, nor did I do it regularly enough to get good at it, or enjoy it. It was so easy for me to procrastinate too, I’d use any excuse not to be able to run any day.
It started where most people start anything these days…the Internet! There are a lot of beginner running plans online, but I couldn’t get anything to stick. Do you know all about doing something for 21 days to make it a habit? Well, it just didn’t work for me, and I could never quite get to that point. runner high? You never achieved that! I always felt running was hard and I had to force myself to do it. But what is another very inexpensive and convenient exercise. Running was something I could get the most out of with the least amount of time invested. I didn’t have to go somewhere to work out, I could walk right out my door. I didn’t need expensive equipment that took up space in my home, and I could do it any time of the day or night convenient for me. I knew running was really my only exercise option at that point in my life.
At first, I couldn’t even get close to a mile. I’ve been reading about interval training, and many programs online tout its benefit in terms of strength, speed, and weight loss, and that’s where I started. Interval training consists of walking for a short period, then running for a shorter period of time, and then walking again. Starting this way helps build endurance for the running portion of the intervals. Gradually the running part increases, and the walking part decreases. It worked for me for a while, but I was still very inconsistent, which makes it hard to see any real improvement.
What really helped me turn a corner was finding a group to run with. In May 2012, a new moms-only group was formed and I decided to take the plunge and join. This was a godsend! Not only were there other women up to the running, but there were others better and worse! I felt like my struggle was real and there were women who overcame the same obstacles I was facing who were so inspiring, and others who looked up to me! and conversations?! hysterical! The best part was the accountability! Even though it was a “semester” and I had to go to a park to attend on a schedule, I committed to making it work because there were people who expected me to be there. We did the same interval, but this time I could really see the difference. I was never one to push myself, but now I have others who push and encourage me. I vividly remember being very anxious one evening because we were expected to run 90 seconds straight! That’s right for 1 minute of running, and I panicked. But I did it! From there it was all uphill. I ran the first race of my life which falls at the age of 45. Since then, I’ve run 18 half marathons (13.1 miles), 2 marathons (26.2 miles) and 1 50K (31.2 miles). From worrying for about 90 seconds to running for nearly 7 hours straight! high runner? Yes, I know what that is now. Another unexpected benefit is that running on my own, outside of my house, on my schedule has become so much easier, because running is so much more fun. I’m fitter than ever in my life, I feel more in control of my emotions, and I feel like I’m setting a good example of a healthy lifestyle for my children.
Not every city has a running group for moms, so some daughters will have no choice but to turn to the internet and books for inspiration. Either way, I encourage you to keep trying, because persistence will pay off in the end. For those of you who live remotely or don’t have much of a running community, I’ve attached two great resources to get you started on your path to a healthier, fitter lifestyle.