About 6 years ago I decided that I needed a regular fitness routine. Reading the obituaries and seeing the young ages of the deceased, and hearing stories from friends about various ailments, convinced me that I needed to get fit and stay fit, but by going to a gym and aerobics classes etc. It didn’t fit my schedule or budget. My husband had been a regular racer for many years and we had done a few races together, but I never loved him, and never did it regularly enough to get good at it or enjoy it. It was also so easy for me to put it off, I would use any excuse not to be able to go for a run on any given day.
I started where most people start anything these days… the internet! There are plenty of beginner race plans on the internet, but I couldn’t do anything. Do you know everything about doing something for 21 days to make it a habit? Well, it didn’t work for me and running, I could never get to that point. Runner’s tip? I never made it! I always felt that running was hard work and something I had to force myself to do. But what other exercise is so inexpensive and convenient. Running was something I could get the most benefit from for the least amount of time invested. I didn’t have to go anywhere to exercise, I could go right to my front door. I didn’t need expensive equipment taking up space in my house, and I could do it at any time of the day or night that was convenient for me. I knew that running was really the only exercise option for me at that stage of my life.
Starting off, I couldn’t even get within a mile. I read about interval training, and many of the programs online tout its benefits for strength, speed, and weight loss, so that’s where I started. Interval training consists of walking for a short period of time, then running for an even shorter period of time, and then walking again. Starting this way helps build stamina for the running portion of the intervals. Gradually, the running part increases and the walking part decreases. It worked for me for a while, but it was still very inconsistent so it was hard to see any real improvement.
What really got me around the corner, though, was finding a group to race with. In May 2012 a new group for moms was forming and I decided to take the plunge and join. This was a godsend! Not only were there other women at my career level, but there were better ones and worse ones! I felt that my struggle had been real and that there were women who had overcome the same obstacles that I was facing and who were very inspiring, and others who looked up to ME! And the conversations? Hysterical! The best part was the accountability! Even though it was a “class” and I had to go to a park to attend on a schedule, I was committed to making it work because there were people waiting for me to be there. We did the same thing in the interval, but this time I could really see the difference. I had never been one to push myself, but now I had others pushing and encouraging me. I clearly remember being very worried one night because we were expected to run 90 seconds straight. That’s right, 1 and a half minutes into the race, and I was freaking out. But I did it! From there everything went uphill. I ran the first race of my life that fall at the age of 45. Since then I have run 18 half marathons (13.1 miles), 2 marathons (26.2 miles), and 1 50K (31.2 miles). From anxiety for about 90 seconds to running for almost 7 hours straight! End of the corridor? Yes, I know what that is. Another unexpected benefit is that running alone, outside of my house, on my schedule has become much easier, because running is more enjoyable. I am fitter than ever in my life, I feel like I have more control over my emotions and I feel like I am setting a good example of a healthy lifestyle for my children.
Not every city has a mom’s running group, so some girls will have no choice but to turn to the internet and books for inspiration. Either way, I encourage you to keep trying, as persistence will pay off in the end. For those of you who live remotely or don’t have a running community, I’ve attached two great resources to get you started on your path to a healthier, fitter lifestyle.