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
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.