I did not always enjoy running. Safe to say, that for at least ten years, I hated every miserable step.
But, when I exercised, I ran because it seemed like the quickest way to get a burn and be done with it. Plus, at my neighborhood gym when I was in high school, the treadmills were the only machines with TVs attached to them. My freshman year of college, my exercise level dropped to nearly nothing (unless eating and drinking loads counts as exercise) and I put on about 20 pounds. Then junior year, I tried a new plan of insane calorie counting and not eating - and while I lost weight, I was miserable. I figured out my issues with food by my senior year, but exercise still didn't really weigh in. The focus during college was always on what I was eating and trying to minimize it. I completely forget about what I was doing and how to maximize it.
After I graduated and moved in with Paul, I got a bit better, but still resulted to my old stand-by: 20 minutes pounded out on the treadmill once or twice a week. And I mean pounded literally. Paul was actually concerned about how heavy I was dropping my feet on the treadmill because it can be so bad on your ankles & knees.
Even though I wanted to exercise with frequency, I completely lacked the motivation. Or energy. Or something. I never regretted a workout after it was finished but starting was the tricky part.
Finally something clicked around new years 2010. I had a wedding & a tropical honeymoon coming up in four months and I wanted to look my best. Nothing motivates like a fitted white dress & an early swimsuit season.
I downloaded a daily calendar where the focus was to mark off days that you DID accomplish your goal. My goal was to exercise everyday. Long walks to work (I was commuting into DC and then walking a little over a mile from the Dupont Circle metro stop to the store in Georgetown) counted. Runs at the gym counted. Twenty minutes of yoga (on the rare occasion I attempted it) counted.
I didn't exercise every day. But it made such a difference for me to see the marks on the days that I did move my body.
A problem I had experienced in the past was that if I didn't go to the gym for a week or so it became even harder to go back. "What is the point?" I wondered. It seemed like I never went enough to make a difference. But tracking on this chart and being able to look at a month all at once helped put things into perspective. It didn't matter that I hadn't exercised in a week. It mattered that the week before that I had gone to the gym three times. I could see that things were being done, even if they were not happening every day.
I kept that paper chart (and it's spelling error) with me through three moves (remember, we spent two months in Sacramento before coming down to San Diego) and diligently maintained it. At the end of a week, I might have been bummed that I only got to the gym once, but by the end of 2010, I felt like I had really accomplished something. I could see how many days I had made an effort overall. Even better, I was inspired to do more in 2011.
This year, I am working on charting my miles instead of just my workouts. After a year of trying to move, I feel stronger and have gotten back down to a really healthy & happy weight for me. Paul and I have started to run outside and that too is making a big difference. While I enjoy watching the Desperate Housewives of America bitch at each other on Bravo, I like the time we get to talk and see our town even more.
We both have been running for about a month on Nike Frees and have started focusing on forefoot or natural running. SIDENOTE : I would not recommend starting with Nike Frees if you are new to running. If you want to start forefoot running, I would do it for about a month before Nike Frees. Paul had been forefoot running for about two months and I for only a couple weeks. Paul had no problem adjusting to the lighter structured shoe, but I had foot pain for my first few runs.
I also watched this video a few months ago and loved what was said - and now I really want his book. On Monday, I officially signed up for the half marathon happening in San Diego in June. Deadlines usually work for me, and I am hoping that a $125 scheduled race will keep me in train mode and push me to up my stamina for longer runs.
Speaking of long, this post is out of hand.
But here is the short story of how I went from hating to enjoying running : Charting my progress made me see that every work out was worth it. Seeing that it was worth it kept me going. Continuing to go resulted in pounds lost. Seeing those results made me want to run even more. Running even more made me stronger. Being stronger made is so I didn't want to die while running. Not wanting to die on runs turned into something actual enjoyable when I added Paul and fresh air into the mix. The end.