run fast
Credit: deposit photo

Recently, I have taken up the sport of running with my sister and niece. We each want to lose weight and to be all around healthier and more energetic. My usual MO when it comes to exercising is to get hyped by an infomercial, buy the workout DVD, and use it faithfully for about two months. That’s it, two months tops, and then it goes to the shelf of forgotten workouts.

This time everything was going to be different, I was going to set myself up for success instead of failure.

Workout with a buddy

In the past my exercise experience was a solo endeavor, I could choose the time and place, but I could also decide to watch a marathon of sitcoms instead of treating my body well. This time I partnered with two other people with the same goals, weight loss and health. I still run into the equivalent distractions and desire to skip a run here and there, but I know I have two people relying on me to keep my end of the bargain. It’s much harder to justify a TV veg-out to my running buddies and easier to spend thirty minutes doing something beneficial.

Start small

New growthCredit: Deposit photoWe decided the best exercise for each of us was to start running. Instead of forcing our out-of-shape-bodies to run three miles right off the bat, we decided to follow the Couch to 5k program[1]. The first day is sixty seconds of running alternating with ninety seconds of walking sandwiched between five minutes of warm up walking and cool down walking. The runs become progressively longer and the walking time shorter. It was an excellent way to break slowly into the realm of running. It certainly wasn’t easy, but every step was bite sized and pushed my limits in a safe way.

Exercise for life

Exercise has been a short-term solution instead of a lifestyle choice. I used exercise to temporarily lose weight or to brag to my coworkers about how active I am. My sister said that we’re only going to be runners for the rest of our lives. That’s the longest commitment I’ve ever made, but it makes sense to commit to a permanent solution to health and weight. This mindset of calling myself a runner has made a huge difference to my exercise dedication. I haven’t missed one day of running since we started in June.

Have a healthy treat

Yes, the reward for exercise is a healthier life and a slimmer body, but some days it takes a little more motivation to get my legs pumping. As a group, we decided to join a 5k run every two to three months. Our first 5k we signed up for fell in July sponsored by the Clark County Food Bank. The cause for the run was to end hunger, a cause close to my heart. I volunteer at the food bank twice a month to help my community. The day of the run, we had completed the couch to 5k program, but running 3.1 miles was no easy feat. Our group finished the run in just under forty minutes. It was an amazing feeling of accomplishment. We have signed up for another 5k run in September, and I’m super excited! 

Choose the right time

Everyone is busy, myself included, so when a workout is longer than forty minutes, I find itGray timeCredit: deposit photos hard to maintain my enthusiasm to complete a session. The Couch to 5k[1] program tops out at forty minutes with a distance of 3.1 miles. It’s the perfect amount of time that allows me the freedom to fit in the workout in the morning or evening depending on the schedule that is best for me and my running partners. 

Eat like a runner

If you don’t fuel your body correctly, then you will hit a physical wall that won’t allow your body to perform at its potential. I discovered this when the program was to run 3.1 miles consistently. I would start out running strong, but then I would quickly lose steam, and I would have to walk. My sister suggested that I try eating a banana, and drinking a glass of EmergenC right before I ran. I was skeptical, but I wanted to run without stopping. The first day was a massive improvement. I was able to run the entire time without stopping, and I increased my speed too. I have started to read blogs about how a runner should eat so I can continue to improve.

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Take setbacks in stride

It hasn’t been all sunshine and roses. In the beginning, I really felt like I was holding my group back because I had to walk often because I was tired or my feet hurt. I mentioned this to my partners and to my surprise, they were very supportive and let me know about the troubles they were having. We exchanged tips on how to improve foot placement to decrease pain, breathing techniques, and mentally pushing through walls. My sister said it best, “Setbacks are just your body and mind asking if you still want it bad enough.” Yes, I do.

Change it up

Round cityCredit: deposit photosI get bored easily, so it’s important that I change up my routine occasionally.  When we started the Couch to 5k program[1], we ran a gravel trail in the park behind the house of my sister. We quickly outgrew that trail and ran around the block. The change in scenery was an excellent distraction from running and made the time and distance pass faster. I brought my phone along and played varying music styles to help with pacing and overall motivation. Some days it is raining or too hot to run outside. In those instances, we would take turns running on the treadmill. It is easier to run on the treadmill, so I push myself to try to run further than I would if I were outside.

I find it’s easier than ever to maintain a schedule of consistent exercise. I run every other day inside or out between 3.1 to 4 miles. It feels great to surpass my two month MO because this isn’t a short term program it’s now my lifestyle. What do you do to keep your motivation to exercise? Let me know in a comment.