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!
Cool post, I just started running I am on week 3 and I am having those days where I wanna give up, but I am not going to. Do you have any tips for sore muscles?
Thank you so much for reading, Melissa! I’m so excited for your new running habit!
A few things I did for sore muscles:
Drink lots of water. Being dehydrated does terrible things to muscles. Stretch after running. Before runs, I would warm up (http://running.competitor.com/2013/10/training/the-perfect-warmup-for-running-workouts_27004) but stretching cold muscles isn’t good for them. If you’re really, unbearably sore, cut back a little bit. If you’re so sore or so tired that you don’t want to run, your body is letting you know you’re doing too much. I’d also use a heating pad on particularly sore muscles whenever necessary. There are a lot of recovery drinks out there that are supposed to help with soreness as well, although I’ve never used them so I have no experience there.
Good luck! Enjoy running and don’t give up! It’s totally worth it. 🙂
Awesome thank you Kaela! I am really tired today and debating not running so I am glad that you said that, if you are tired then your body wants to rest. Duh makes sense right?! But it is so hard to listen to our bodies when our mind is saying “Just do it.” lol no pun intended with Nike.
I’m so glad that helped! Rest days are just as necessary as the run days. 🙂
I’m glad you’re my buddy. 🙂
Back at you, girl. Obviously! 😉
Excellent list, Kaela. Onward with your running journey. It inspires many of us!!. To not run. 🙂
Oh no, Eric! I’ve inspired you to not run!? We win some, we lose some. Right? Ha. 🙂
I was a competitive triathlete for several years, despite knowing – the entire time – that I very much disliked running. Give me a pool or a bicycle any day. The pavement, not so. 🙂
Oh wow! That’s awesome! I love biking, but can only swim enough to save my life. How does one become a competitive triathlete?
One gets snookered into trying it by a coworker and then the bug bites. Hard. One then realized the need: 1) copious time to train; 2) money for requisite equipment, race entry fees, etc,; 3) sometimes inhuman physical and mental pain thresholds; 4) a mind capable of encouraging you to continue when your body wants to quit (you likely know this one); 5) a spouse or significant other who is willing to support your chosen passion; 6) a willingness to acknowledge that you have a strong race leg and a weak leg (mine being running). This list goes on, considerably. 🙂 I loved training and competing (except for the running part) and finally bowed out when my professional commitments became too demanding. Hang in there with your passion and commitment, Kaela!
I’m not a runner but I wholeheartedly concur with these tips for working out and getting active in general. I got back into a regular routine a few weeks ago and its amazing how good you start feeling once you trick your mind out of feeling lazy and just do it. Looking good may be a motivating factor but after noticing how good I FEEL, I’ve gotten hooked on this exercise thing. 😉 The only thing I’d add to this list is to figure out what works for you. Like I said, running is just a no-go for me (and my knees) but I love yoga, Pilates, and dance (both formal classes and the informal jam session in my room).
Lillian! How are you!?! We have catching up to do. (Heading over to your blog shortly.)
So glad you pointed this out—I made this point in my head, but not well on paper, as so often happens with me. *sigh*
I’ve been wanting to try yoga! It looks so refreshing. And dance—go you! Any time I spend in a dance class is wasted laughing at myself in the mirror. *sigh again*
Isn’t that fresh dose of endorphins addicting!? I love it and I’m so glad to hear you’re in the habit of treating yourself well. Feeling good makes us look better automatically, I think. It’s that contentment and well-being that comes from being happy with ourselves. 🙂
Fantastic, Kaela! Congratulations to you 🙂 Your post belongs in a fitness magazine–wonderful points all. I like running–along with working out at the gym, biking, spinning, etc–for all of that, I guess, though mostly because it just feels good to move. Our bodies were made to MOVE! And dancing counts 😀
They absolutely were, Liz! We feel so much better when our blood is flowing! Thanks a bunch. 😉
This really motivates me to start again. Thank you very much for this
I’m so glad, Eva! Enjoy it! And thanks so much for reading. 🙂
Ray and I started talking about starting the C2k5 (couch potato to 5k, so whatever acronym is correct insert please. 😉 ) and starting together. Two obstacles though… the man despises exercise… period. And living in different states. Oh well, we will figure it out.
I don’t know how I completely missed your comment, Jenn! I’m so sorry!
If you have smartphones, there are apps you can use to keep track of both of your time and progress so that it’s almost like you’re running together. Having goals, like a 5k, is great. Sign up and pay for it so that he feels compelled to go and it may be just enough motivation. I know that has worked for me! 😉