Why I run

My running hobby started reluctantly. I never wanted to be a runner, just look like one, because you know, it is better to look good than to feel good, and darlings, running makes you look marvelous. Some run for charity, some for health, I run for chocolate cake.

My good friend posted the picture of me on the left on Facebook. I hadn't noticed the weight creeping on,but after seeing that picture I knew I had to do something. I did a lot of research and running always seemed to be top of the list for burning the most calories in the least amount of time (and I was looking for the least amount of effort with maximum results). At first I just walked, but wasn't getting the results I was hoping for. Then one day I found the Couch Potato to 5k training plan. This plan gradually transforms you from couch potato to runner in 8 short weeks. It is designed for non runners, like me.  You walk/run only 3 times per week for about 20-30 minutes, and never 2 days in a row. Each week you add a few more minutes of running until you can run for 30 minutes (or 5k) without stopping. I would love to tell you it was easy, but IT WAS VERY HARD!!!!! I am not sure how I stuck with it, but once I committed to the plan there was no turning back, something inside of me would not accept defeat.

Part of my success was just taking it week by week, I didn't look ahead to see how many more minutes I would have to run next week, I just stayed in the moment and concentrated on getting through each day. I wrote out each weeks plan on individual post-it notes and put them on the fridge. It was a constant reminder that I needed to run, and each week I removed the post-it after I finished the third run of that week, it was so satisfying to see the list of post-its dwindle.
Let me be honest, I did not enjoy this.  People would ask me, "so, you like to run?". I would always reply, "NO, but I love it when I'm done". There was such a feeling of accomplishment, I was very proud of myself.

I started to get discouraged around week 4, that's when my brother (who completes marathons) suggested I sign up for a race to keep me motivated. YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING!!!!!  I was not interested in running a race, surrounded by really fit people, I was sure to stand out. Again, I am not sure why I listened to him, but I did, and signing up for a race was another motivational tool that kept me on track. It gave me a goal that I couldn't ignore.

Around week 4 or 5 of the plan, I took a good friend out and coached her on week one day one of the plan (because misery loves company:) She didn't have the app on her phone, so I told her when to walk,when to run. It was an eye opener for me. She was struggling, just like I had done a few weeks earlier, but for me, this stage was effortless. It illustrated just how far I had come in 4 short weeks. Having a friend to run with helps in so many ways. It is hard to blow off a run when you know someone is counting on you. When you run with a friend, you chat and forget about the running, and that is a good thing.

The final, but very important element that kept me going was my supportive family. They were happy kept the complaining to a minimum when I told them they would have to get up early Thanksgiving morning to cheer me on for my first 5k turkey trot. My husband bought me a treadmill when in his heart he thought it would turn into a coat hanger. My sons offer encouragement and bring me water when I run. My eldest son made me a chocolate cake when I completed my first ten mile run. If I am training for a race and need to get in my scheduled run, sometimes my family have to fend for themselves and have cereal for dinner, and that's ok with them.

It has been a year and a half since I started to run, and I am happy to report, it doesn't suck as much as it did a year ago. There are days I even enjoy the run. I don't run fast, I find I have too many aches and pains after a faster run and I don't enjoy it. I keep a slow and steady pace and I have learned to stop running when I feel sharp pain. Some days are harder than others, I don't dwell on them, just start fresh the next time. I have run many 5k races, and if you are intimidated to sign up for one, don't be. Many people walk these, and they are almost always for charity. Speaking of charity, I forgot to mention one more motivational running tool is the "Charity miles" app. You download this to your smartphone. It is hard to quit running when you are running for the Wounded Warrior Project or Feed America.

Becoming self motivated is the key to sticking with a new habit like running. I have found the inspiration at the blog Life Optimizer to help motivate me to run. I especially like the quote: " In difficult situations, just focus on taking one more step forward. Don’t think about how to complete the race. Don’t think about how many more obstacles are waiting for you. Just focus on taking the next step." I use this philosophy often when I am talking myself into quitting, just make it to the next tree, mailbox etc.

I hope this inspires you to give running a try. If you know me, I am always happy to take a friend out for a test run. You never know, you might like it.


wendy gaechter said...

I love your blog,Maureen. My apologies for posting that FB pic, and though I can see a huge difference in your physical appearance, you were always beautiful in my eyes. Glad you traded that handful of Swedish Fish for fists full of spinach! Keep up the good work!

john murphy said...

Long Island Half Marathon in May, Fairfield Half Marathon/10k in June, Dublin Half Marathon in August...time for a new goal. Great stuff Maureen- this was a pick-me-up on an otherwise manic Monday.

Maureen Fiorellini said...

Wendy,no problem,look what you started! Funny that I was carrying a bag of Swedish Fish.
John, August half is tempting.

Lila Mathews said...

Mrs. Fiorellini,
First of all, thank you for sending in the delicious soda bread with Art this morning! Secondly, thank you for posting this motivational blog. I have been trying to lose weight since I had my second child 2 years ago. I've tried everything, from "Insane" work out videos to insane diets and nothing seems to work (or keep me motivated to stick with it). A co-worker of mine signed up a marathon and lost 20+ pounds, she's trying to get me to run on this year and I'm taking the baby steps to start training. Reading your blog has really pushed me to keep going! ~ Lila Mathews

Emmanuel Marasigan said...

Thanks for the Irish Soda Bread, it was a real treat! Keep up the good work with running! You have conquered the hardest part, starting and sticking with a training plan.

Maureen Fiorellini said...

Hi Lila, so nice of you to comment! I am so glad that my blog has inspired to you keep with the running. I know how hard it is. The key is not doing too much,too soon. Otherwise you may get injured and discouraged. That is why the couch potato to 5k is perfect to start with. I did not attempt running any longer than 3 miles until I had been running the 3 miles regularly for about a year. Feel free to email me and I can answer any questions you have, glad to help, keep up the good work.

Maureen Fiorellini said...

Thanks Emmanuel,glad you enjoyed it!

Anonymous said...

going to start training today....thanks for the push off the couch. Thank Maureen.

Maureen Fiorellini said...

Your welcome! Everyone needs a little push now and then. Recruit a friend to keep you company, misery loves company.

Debbie said...

Hi Maureen, I'm feeling incredibly guilty as I've been (or was) that friend that reluctantly joined you at each run request even when my body screamed "NO". Spring is coming (eventually...I think)! I promise to be a running partner again if you don't mind me at my slow pace.....I'm always so proud of you for your determination to run, even when you had to ice your knees everynight! You're the perfect inspiration for all of your blog readers!

Maureen Fiorellini said...

Thanks Deb, glad you are enjoying the posts. I know how hard it is to run in the winter,you are not alone, it is very hard to be motivated when it is cloudy and cold outside. I do miss your company though. You have accomplished the hardest part, you know you can do it, now you just have to commit to a training plan. I love the slow runs, no need for speed.
See you on the road:)