I love running.
See? This is me post half-marathon, so in love with running. (Also so happy it was over.)
The me of 5 years ago would have laughed in your face if you’d told me I’d be a happy, thriving runner today. And yet, here I am, former couch potato, hoping to share with you how I fell head over heels (sneakers over sweat bands??) in love with running.
What made this time different from every other gym spree and I’m-gonna-get-in-shape-isode over the years? I’m so glad you asked! I made you a list.
10. Figure out why you want to run, then don’t quit.
We’re starting out with the hard one: Anything worth having is worth fighting for, and good health is one of those things. If we understand from the beginning that it will be difficult, we’re less likely to give up when the going gets tough. A clear understanding of why we want this will help us push through the obstacles. I run to set a good example of health and body image for my daughter; to feel mentally, emotionally, and physically strong; and to be the best version of myself for the people who need me. Determine why you want to run and it’ll make it easier to hang on when you feel like quitting.
9. Set reasonable goals and keep track of your progress.
After having my daughter, I had gained 70 pounds and was as out-of-shape as could be. So I began walking…and walking and walking and walking. Eventually, I was running a 5k, then a 10k, then a half-marathon. Setting small goals and keeping track of your progress helps to prevent discouragement. While I was training for the half-marathon, I kept a spread sheet of my daily mileage and shared my progress in Saturday posts here on my blog. That little bit of extra accountability motivated me to stay on track during the harder weeks. For smartphone users, there are tons of great apps out there that will document and share your progress on social media.
8. Get good gear.
The right shoes are the most important part of running. It can mean the difference between injury and total ease. Don’t go cheap on your shoes. Your clothes don’t need to be anything special, just comfortable and weather appropriate. The more comfortable you are, the easier it will be to focus on the run.
Who can run without good tunes? Make a playlist that gets you pumped up and feeling good. Keep a song or two in reserve for when you’re tackling a long hill or you’re in need of an extra push. At the moment, my “extra push” songs are “Beautiful Day” by U2 and “Black Hearts (On Fire)” by Jet. They are subject to change as often as necessary.
6. Find a buddy.
Sometimes the only thing that will motivate you to jump out of bed for a run when you’d rather be sleeping in is the knowledge that someone is waiting for you. It helps if they have similar goals and a comparable running speed so that you’re able to push each other. My run buddy has kept me moving even on the days when I’d much rather be parked on the sofa with my dear friends Ben and Jerry.
5. Do away with comparing yourself.
Don’t compare yourself to the person next to you on the treadmill, to pictures in magazines, movie stars, coworkers, friends, family members, or anyone one else on the planet. Comparing creates negativity. Be proud of your progress and happy with who you are and you will have the freedom to be happy for the success of others.
4. Don’t sabotage your progress in the kitchen.
This one is hard for me. I’m running, so I can eat whatever I want, right?? Unfortunately, no. There are foods that will hinder your progress. Junk food. Empty calories. You know the culprits. While it’s okay—even good—to indulge occasionally (this girl can put away chocolate like nobody’s business), it’s important that most of what we eat equips our bodies to be strong. Please do yourself a favor and stick with real food. Steer clear of the low-fat, sugar-free, chemical-ridden nonsense. All that fake-ness will do nothing but mess with your body. Also, water. Drink it. A lot. When you’re feeding your body well, it’ll be much easier to push yourself on those runs.
3. Mix it up.
Some people love the treadmill, but I’ve never been able to get used to it. A four mile run through my neighborhood goes by much easier than four miles overlooking the indoor pool at my local gym. It’s important to figure out what works for you then build on it to prevent boredom. For example, I’ve added Pilates into my regular routine and I change up where and how far I run. I’m a bit easy to please, so that’s all it takes to keep me interested. Some people find that cross training helps—add the row machine, weights, the bicycle, whatever works for you.
2. The scale doesn’t need to have a say in any of this.
For some people, though not everyone, the scale can be a very negative influence. When we start thinking in terms of weight we venture into dangerous territory that may include not eating properly, pushing our bodies too hard, and being guilt motivated. Unless the doctor has explicitly told you that you need to reach a goal weight, I would only weigh yourself once a week or nix the scales altogether. Losing weight is only one indication of fitness, and it is by no means the plumb line by which we measure our well-being. Guilt has no place in a healthy lifestyle. If you find that stepping on the scale is a discouragement or you begin to obsess about the numbers you see there, take it to Goodwill and focus on building a healthy lifestyle in its absence.
1. Be your own pep squad.
Oh my gosh, I look gross. I can’t believe I ate that. What was I thinking? I’m weak, why am I even trying? I can’t do it. I’ve failed before, what makes me think I can do it now? I’m never going to look/feel the way I want. Ugh, this hurts. Why am I doing this?
STOP! This madness must stop. If it is true that we have the potential to be our own worst enemy, then we also have the potential to be our own best friend. The day I realized that I talked to myself in a way I would never talk to anyone else was the day everything changed for me. Your inner voice will be the difference between failure and success. When you hit that hill, encourage yourself. When you don’t do well, be kind. When you overcome an obstacle, celebrate! Let’s turn the negativity into You can do this! Think of how great you’ll feel when we’re done! Don’t worry, you will do better tomorrow. Keep it up, you’re doing awesome! Be as kind to yourself as you would be to your dearest friend and see how it changes your outlook.
Running is a fantastic way to keep moving. It’s what works for me. Something else may work for you, and that’s awesome. The key is, whatever you do, motivate yourself with positivity. Make small, progressive changes that you can turn into a lifestyle. Banish words like fat and skinny and opt for words like strong and healthy.
You are worth the effort it takes to be healthy. Keep running and, before long, you won’t be able to imagine your life without it.
Any tips to add?
I’d love to hear how you motivate yourself to stay strong and healthy!