Friday, September 9, 2011

Walk, Then Run: 10 Unique Tips to Get You Moving

I've been running. 

For those who have read my P90X posts, this proclamation may not seem like a big deal.  My real friends know that despite what is probably a better-than-average fitness level, I simply don't run.  Not even with someone chasing me and the promise of a cocktail at the end.

That was then.  This is now.  But how did it happen?

Some time had passed since my P90X (and Jillian and Leandro) days.  Competing life priorities were taking up more time and energy than ever. 

Here's the thing about the "no time for exercise" excuse:  It's not technically that we don't have the time. For most of us, it's that we have so many demands on us that though we have the time, we're exhausted.

It's easy to get into a mindset where we see exercise as something that will make us more tired.  Of course, the opposite is actually true.  It's just hard to see it that way when you've driven a two hour commute after a 10 hour work day, and there are dishes, clothes, floors and kids who all need cleaning.

So what we're really saying when we say "I don't have time to exercise" is "I really just don't feel like it."  (Wah.)

In my case, I had lost my motivation to "just push play" on a DVD and have yet someone else demand a piece of me.  

I am still physically capable of waking up at 5:30am.  I just need a break from someone barking commands at that godforsaken hour.

Knowing that I needed to get my arse back in gear, I began a program called Couch to 5K that my sister really loves.  You know how I like "programs" so I downloaded the iPad app and gave it a try. 

Yeah, not so much. 

Perhaps it was the over-complication of an exercise that is simple by nature.   I just couldn't do it.

A friend of mine (also SO not a runner) was having some great results with basic running.  I decided to give it a try.   The first day I left my house, got into a good sprint and made it all the way.... to the mailbox two houses down from mine.  I had to stop and catch my breath.   I know it's weird that my cardiovascular endurance can take such a major step backwards in such a short time, but it is what it is.  I blame my mother for smoking two packs of Salem Menthols per day the whole time I was in utero.  

Lesson learned.  Walk, then run.   When I first started a few months ago, it took me about 22 minutes to go one mile.  Yesterday, I did five miles in one hour.   (I realize that's still not stellar, but good for me!.)  

Here are 10 tips, most of which I'm pretty sure nobody else will tell you:

1. If you're going to walk/run first thing in the morning, either sleep in your running clothes or have them easily accessible and ready to go.  Place your sneakers directly next to the bed so that you will trip over them on the way to the bathroom unless you put them on your feet first.  Night walkers, tie your shoelaces around the remote control.

2. If necessarily, annoy yourself.  The hardest part of walking or running isn't mile two, three or four.  It's the first few steps.  It's the getting going, especially if you are trying to move at a time when your body is usually sedentary.   If you find yourself focusing on how comfy you are in that bed or couch pester yourself with, "Just a few steps. You can do it. Get up.  Do it."  Use it as a mantra until your body is in motion.  Don't take "I don't wanna" for an answer.  Remind yourself that successful people do the things that other people don't want to do.  Get. Up.

3. Don't procrastinate.   The very moment you get the thought about getting on that treadmill or walking outside, GO.   Do not wash those dishes. Do not answer those emails. Do not make coffee.    This is a tough one for me on Fridays when I work at home. I always think I'll have "plenty of time" to fit in a workout but then get swept away in calls and deadlines.  You can have the best of intentions but before you know it, it's 8pm and you're still wearing your sweats (with no sweat having actually been produced).  Sadly, there's no glory is "almost" doing something.

4. Wear a pedometer.  If you don't want to spend any money, ask someone who frequents tradeshows and they probably have a drawer full of them with your choice of corporate logos.  

5. Record your mileage and time, do the calculation and track your progress.  You can write it on your calendar, post it to your Facebook status or join a fancy website like dailymile.   Tracking and measurement are critical to success in achieving almost any objective.

6. Be goal-oriented.  I focus on increasing miles per hour and per week.   If your focus is calorie burn, then burn baby, burn.  Or, focus on time.  The key thing is to set the goal, know how you are doing against that goal and push yourself to improve, even if in small increments.

7. "It's not you, it's them."  Just know that as this strange force sucks you into moving more, you won't be able to keep yourself from talking about it.  People will make snarky comments.  They are jealous.  Ignore them.

8. If you walk or run outside, don't over hydrate.  This may seem like bad advice but trust me when I tell you that it is no fun to realize half way through the journey that you are also the furthest possible distance from your own bathroom.

9. If you have an iPod or similar device, music selection is key.  I've greatly enjoyed an eclectic mix of songs but the stuff from my teen years is what usually gets me running. (The same music that would embarrass my kids if they saw me dancing or singing to it.)  My husband's "Classic Rock Gold" collection has also been surprisingly motivating.  Go old school.

10. Be consistent.  Make a promise to yourself and stick to some kind of regular schedule.   Depending on where you are mentally and physically right now, this may be hard to believe but soon you will be upset to miss a workout.

On that note, it's 8pm and I'm still wearing the running clothes I've had on since 5:30am.   Treadmill time!

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