I recognize not all runners run just for the pure enjoyment of running. My oldest son does not enjoy running. In fact, he has told me many times he pretty much hates running. He runs because it’s a social event and, in the beginning, he ran because of the physical benefits and new found muscle definition. For the last two years, he has run on his high school cross country team. They start training in the summer and then the season ends in October. Since the end of last season, he has found other ways, Ultimate Frisbee and weight training, to stay fit. He enjoys these much more than running.
He said he kind of feels bad that he doesn’t like running because he knows how much I love it. Honestly, if he doesn’t love running (or even like it), that’s all right with me. What I want for him is to find ways to stay healthy and fit. I want him to learn the habits of eating well and exercising on a regular basis. Because the older you get, the harder it is to develop and stick to healthy habits.
Many people are drawn to running because they want to look better and lose weight. This is excellent! Of course, there will be hurdles and roadblocks as there are in all aspects of life. You may even have some regression at times.
Some runners begin with high expectations on pace and the way they should feel. When they don’t see the expected improvement in their pace or the way they feel they stop. They give up thinking, “This will never work for me. Why did I even think I could do this?” Hurdle one: lack of improvement. The best counter to this is to have a training program. Start small and work your way up. Have short-term and long-term goals. Register for a 5k in eight weeks and then find a training program. Start with walking nine minutes and running one. For thirty-minute sessions three to four times a week. Lower your walk time and increase the run time by one minute each week. You want your plan to be challenging, but not too much. If it’s too hard then you are likely to get tired, take a few days off, and then a few more…
Seeing the number on the scale drop is pretty motivating, but what if it’s holding steady? Hurdle two: Lack of weight loss. Look at your diet and not just your activity level. Weight must be fought on both fronts. You don’t need to make drastic changes to your diet. First, it’s good to know what you are actually putting in. Keep a food diary for a week or two. Next, make the choice to make one meal a day healthier. Start small and work your way up. In order to lose weight, you have to take in fewer calories than you are burning. Your body will burn the sugar it has stored in your muscles before burning fat. Reducing your sugar/carbohydrate intake and increasing your calories burned each day will lead to weight loss.
Everyone has bad days, even elite runners who have coaches and nutrition specialists following them around all day have bad days. Sometimes we have bad weeks. Roadblock number one: Negative thoughts/mental state. You can’t let a bad workout or a bad week throw you off. Things will get better. They always do. Keep telling yourself, what goes down must come up. Surround yourself with positive people and put positive affirmations on your mirror in the morning or on the back of your door. Even on the edge of your computer screen. I have inspirational quotes on post-it notes on my wall next to my computer. Whenever, I see one I like, I put it up there. You have to let bad days go, forget about them, and move forward. Every day is a new day.
Some of us get into an “I don’t give a F***,” (sorry about the F, but you know what I’m talking about) mode and just eat everything and don’t go to the gym. Of course, we feel bad later.. sometimes. So, what if I miss a day or two? Roadblock number two: Regression. Let it go. Get back out there. Find a gym partner who can hold you accountable when you are hitting that wall. Every day is a new day. I don’t care if it’s a week, get back out there.
Staying committed to exercising and eating well is hard. I have had my fair share of false starts, changing sports, gym partners, and video workouts. I’ve been 40 pounds overweight. It’s hard to lose. It took me a little over a year! The most important thing is to not give up, set small goals, and then bigger ones. And always celebrate your success.