Hard to believe that 2010 is behind us. Time to reflect on the past and make some resolutions to improve the future. Then comes the hard part.....following through.
2010 was a year of personal highs and lows.....challenges, injuries and accomplishments. The one common thread throughout the year was my running. Although I may not have logged as many miles in 2010 as years past, my runs helped me get through the lows of the year and contributed to many of the highs of the year.
Running hasn't always been a part of my life. As a matter of fact, my start in running began with a New Year's Resolution 6 years ago. I've never been a big "resolution" person.....yes, I'd make them but rarely followed through on them beyond the first week of January. But, 7 years ago I was faced with the biggest life challenge I'd ever been faced with - the passing of my husband to cancer - and I had spent the previous year focusing on helping my children adjust.
As I reflected on 2006, I realized I had not taken care of myself. It was at that point I decided my New Year Resolution for 2007 was to focus on me....and that included taking time to exercise. I had no idea the far-reaching changes in my life that little "conversation" with myself would have. I have since ran numerous 5 and 10K's, 2 full marathons and 15 half marathons, as well as running to raise over $20,000 for LiveSTRONG and as a 3 year participant on a relay run to benefit the St. Jude Children's Hospital. I have big plans in place for 2011 - to run a half marathon each month with the exception of March and November, when I'm running full marathons - to continue my fundraising efforts for LiveSTRONG. A lofty goal for a busy working mom but one I plan to make reality...and the running helps me keep my sanity so that's a great benefit right off the bat!
It wasn't easy way back in January 2007. There were definitely periods (and still are) when it was tough to stay focused and keep motivated. So, how did I accomplish that original resolution and how will I continue to do so in 2011?
- Start slow and set realistic obtainable goals. Meeting goals provide motivation and allows you to attempt another goal. Make them somewhat easy to start with.....a little bit of accomplishment provides a lot of satisfaction.
- Carve out 10 minutes to workout each day for 1 week
- Run/walk 2 miles each morning
- Invest in your exercise plan. Wasting money is frustrating, so making a monetary investment may make you more likely to follow through. Obviously this is different for everyone but my personal situation as single working mom with three children under the age of 10 didn't allow me much flexibility. So, I invested in a quality treadmill, bought some workout dvds and weights. This allowed me to workout in the basement while my kids were playing nearby and when I had free time. I eventually also joined a gym that provided free childcare.
- Create opportunities that will not allow excuses. Again, working out at home did not provide me with the excuse that I couldn't workout because I didn't have a sitter for the kids. Finding a gym with free childcare was another option.
- Share your plan with family, friends and co-workers. It's amazing how "honest" my friends keep me. Once I let the cat out of the bag, friends and co-workers began asking me how my plan was going. I still use this as a motivator.....I always share what I'm training for and when I do so, people are always curious about my training. Definitely nice to be able to share results with them. Just last month I posted on Facebook that I was going to the gym the next morning and when I woke up, instead of rolling over, I got up because I knew people would ask about my workout. And they sure did!
- Sign up for a race....any race. I chose to sign up for a half marathon in September of that year to give myself plenty of time to train.....and I made sure I shared with others that I did so.....again, it kept me on track. Having a race on the calendar that requires training has always kept me focused on working out. Any race...a local 5K to a full marathon. Whatever fits your goals.
- Create a training plan. There are plenty available on the internet....and a lot of the larger races provide information on training. Having a plan keeps you on track and there is no question in regard to what you should do on any particular day.
- Log your workouts. Keep track of how long you worked out, what you did, how many miles, pace, etc. Tracking this allows you to reflect back on your hard work and accomplishments. It doesn't need to be fancy. A simple calendar on your refrigerator will work, or check out the numerous on-line logs with all the bells and whistles.
- Join a local running club or create a running group. I joined our local running club - primarily so I'd meet other runners. In doing so, I became friends with some other runners that live near me and we began running together every Saturday morning. That grew into weekday morning runs and eventually we began training for half marathons together. This group is so supportive that some trained with me while I was preparing to run the Chicago Marathon in 2009.
- Make plans to meet others for runs or workouts. There is no better way to get me out of bed at 4:45 am than the thought of others waiting for me in the dark to run. I'm more likely to hit the snooze button and pull the covers over my head if it were only myself running.
- Get fitted in the correct shoes. Visit your local running shop. Not all running shoes nor runners are the same. Wearing the wrong pair can be a huge hurdle in your training. Make sure the clerk knows you are new to running or setting some new goals. I was having some trouble with my arch after wearing the same style for several years, they put me in a new shoe immediately and my pain disappeared. Without the staffs' vast knowledge, I may have been sidelined from the pain or changed my goals.
- Join on-line running sites like the Daily Mile or Tribal Running. You can "friend" other runners and share your training, ask questions, share stories, motivate one another, etc.
- Consider running for a cause. Another key to my success has been tying my running to philanthropic goals. Knowing that I had raised money to benefit LiveSTRONG helped me stay focused training for the Chicago Marathon this past summer as I dealt with some of those personal lows in 2010.
- Exercise provides a natural positive boost. Endorphins....that right there says it all. I can't always fit in a morning workout but when I do, I have a great start to my day! I arrive at work knowing I have already accomplished something, I have an extra bounce to my step from the endorphins running through my blood, AND best of all, I have no obligation to workout looming over me after work. I can just go home and relax for the evening.
Of course, the first step of all is to make the decision to create a resolution. So, start dreaming away....and keep in mind......no one ever regrets going for a run.