Last week I started running again after a six week break. That’s the longest I’ve gone without running since January 1, 2015. I’ve been an on and off jogger since college, but it has never been something I enjoyed enough to make it part of my daily routine. I dreaded going out for a run around the neighborhood. Sidewalks and streets didn’t inspire me. My knees hurt and I had shin splints, so I had excuses. I really surprised myself when I joined a Hood to Coast Relay team with eleven of my running friends including my husband. This was 10-14 years ago, and I did it three years in a row. I struggled to adequately train each year. I had fun, but didn’t continue running once the race was over. I tried to be a consistent runner but without a clear vision or goal, I failed.
New Year’s Resolve
In December 2014 we rang in the new year on the Oregon Coast with our good friends from California. They are both runners and I admire them for their dedication to start each day with a run. We enjoyed an ocean view while cooking meals together, playing games and watching football. This is where my new running story begins.
Thanks to the inspiration of our friends, who returned each morning from a run before I had my first cup of coffee, and my husband’s motivation to get us out the door, I ran. We ran three days in a row. They weren’t long or fast runs, but they left me feeling invigorated, happy, and clear headed. I liked the post run feeling so much that I decided my 2015 resolution would be to make running a habit. After all, If I could run in the wind and freezing cold (there was ice on the sand one of the mornings in the unusually cold weather) then I should be able to run in the rain back home in Portland.
Building A Habit
They say it takes three weeks to build a habit. I thought, “I just need to get out and run at least 15 minutes every day to build a running habit.” However, I was concerned for my knees. They hurt in the past, and I didn’t want that to stop me this time.
On January 4th I bought my first pair of Hoka running shoes. One of our California friends ran in them, and convinced me to try a pair. He said it felt like he was running on clouds. They have extra cushioning to help absorb more impact.
I ran 27 days that January! I think I ran 14 days in a row before taking a day off. I was afraid that if I skipped a day I would lose my motivation and quit. I was determined to create this new habit. That 15 minutes became 25 right away and then 30. I didn’t start tracking miles until February 10th when I started using the Nike+ Running App. I had been using the Nike fuel band to keep me motivated, but it didn’t record mileage. I also took a picture during every run. I loved collecting the photos with data from each run. It worked for me and that is all I needed to help me stick to a new habit. I was thrilled, and it was those crazy looking shoes that helped me keep going without the knee and shin pain.
Over the course of the year I ran when the weather was perfect and when it was miserable. No matter how long, hard, wet, or muddy I never finished wishing I hadn’t done it. At the end of the year I was proud of my results. From February 10th to December 31st I ran 136 times for a total of 524.6 miles. I even ran my first half marathon. I felt stronger and healthier. I started to think of myself as a runner.
Why am I telling you this?
First, It takes time and determination to develop an exercise routine that works for you. It isn’t always easy to find something you enjoy and can do on a regular basis. If you get sidelined for awhile don’t abandon it altogether. Get back to your routine when you can. It’s worth it and you’ll be glad you did.
Second, exercise is a key component in living well longer. You don’t have to run, but it is important to develop an exercise habit. Make it part of your plan for living with vitality.
Do you have an exercise routine that keeps you moving? Is there a physical activity that you really enjoy? Are there Apps or devices that have kept you motivated? Please leave a comment below.
Disclaimer: I am not fitness professional. My stories are based on my own experience and results. Please consult your own health professional for personal advice.
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