I decided this week that I need to make more of an effort to exercise on the weekends. I’ve kind of fallen off the exercise bandwagon lately and I’m starting to notice the effects. But recognizing the benefits of something doesn’t automatically make it easier to accomplish.
I’ve often read that exercising first thing in the morning is a great way to ensure that you get it done. I know for a fact I’ve had many days where the phrase “Oh, I still need to walk later.” gets said every hour on the hour until it’s too late at night and suddenly I’ve missed a day.
At this point in time, there is no way I could exercise first thing in the morning on work days. I am not a morning person. I’m lucky if I get out of bed early enough to not have to literally sprint around the house getting ready to get out the door on time. Maybe that will change for me someday. For now, one step at a time.
And that first step starts with weekends. On the weekends I don’t have to rush. Last night the thought crept into my mind, “Maybe I should set an alarm to get up early and walk first thing?” Ugh. One of the joys of Saturday is not having to set an alarm. On the other hand, I had read some inspiring stories this week, so was feeling particularly optimistic about my prospects. I remembered one of the quotes on my wall, “A year from now you will wish you had started today.” That was it. I’m doing it.
I set my alarm. I threw in a little accountability by messaging a friend what I was planning. If you don’t tell anybody your goals, it is way too easy to talk yourself out of things at the first sight of an obstacle. My friend immediately wrote back, “GOOD FOR YOU!” Which solidified the point of no return for me. It was now “out there” and I didn’t want to have to come back today and tell my friend I blew it.
When my alarm rang this morning, I’m not gonna lie, I could not have been less in the mood to get up and greet the sunshine. I tossed and turned for awhile. Grumbled at the fact that I stayed up too late watching a movie. After all, sleep was important too. Maybe I should reset my alarm? But, as I said, it was already “out there”. I didn’t want to fail before I had started. I had committed to this in my mind. Now I needed to follow through with my actions. “A year from now you will wish you had started today.” Today is today. Time to start.
I got up and got dressed. I grabbed my phone and various other necessary accessories.
I was an athlete growing up. I played lots of sports and was always active. You would think that would mean I enjoyed running. You would be wrong. Not only did I dislike running, I hated it with a passion. When I officially “retired” from competitive sports I quit running the second I was no longer required to do it, and I never looked back. Until a few weeks ago.
I was out walking on the trail and suddenly decided I might like to run a few steps. I don’t know what came over me. I ended up running a half mile (in alternating tenth of a mile increments). I loved it. For the first time in my life nobody was telling me to run. It was my idea. It was actually enjoyable and I felt great, physically and mentally when I was done.
Since then I have been alternating walking and running each time I make the trip down to the city park trail to exercise. On the official city trail I use the .10 mile markers to choose when to start and stop running to give myself goals.
But, today I was just planning to walk/run through the adjoining neighborhood. How would that work? How was I going to track my running vs walking time? How would I know how much progress I was making?? Maybe I should drive down to the city trail after all?
As those thoughts were racing through my head I happened to glance down at my shirt. The words “Just Do It.” mockingly stared back at me. The well-known Nike slogan made me laugh out loud. Okay. I get it. Quit worrying about structure and just get out there and go. The rest will take care of itself.
I have a very analytical mind. My natural tendency is to plan and organize and make lists and track my progress. Sometimes that’s good, but sometimes you should listen to your shirt and just do it.
Today I would run when I felt like running and walk when I felt like my lungs were going to rip out of my chest. I would pick out landmarks and use them as goals. “I will run until I get to that set of power poles that look like goalposts.” or “I will walk until I get to the house with the crazy lawn decorations.”
I had a great time.
I love the angle of the sun that time of day. I saw bunnies on lawns. I watched a group of kids playing a pickup game of kickball in the grass of the neighborhood park. I looked into people’s backyards. I strained to pick out what songs were playing as I passed people listening to the radio while they tended their gardens or worked on their cars. In someone’s driveway I saw a super cool classic 60s car in my favorite shade of green.
I saw a mother out biking with her daughter. (‘A’ for effort to the mom for giving it a try, but unfortunately the daughter was biking under protest. Choruses of “Are we done yet? I want to go home!” could be heard for a block. Maybe if she wasn’t wearing flip flops while trying to ride her bike up a hill…)
I saw women out running on their own just like me.
I passed people on the neighborhood park trail who gave me the “Hey, we’re both out doing this today!”, unspoken, one-hand wave and nod of the head. A nice confirmation that I was part of the club.
I had turned on the audio coach for my running app on my phone. Before I knew it a British guy on my left arm was letting me know I’d knocked out one mile. I was about halfway through the loop I had planned to make. As I neared the end of that loop and started the straightaway with my house in sight I heard the words I wanted to hear. My computer-voiced British companion shouted out the 2.0 mile mark.
I was home.
I walked/ran 2.10 miles in 31:27 minutes. A pace of 14:56 min/mile. Certainly not going to win me any awards, but I met my two mile goal. And I did it without any route-planning or trail markers.
I might not have gotten out as early as I planned. I didn’t jump out of bed like a kid on Christmas morning. But I did it.
I got out there first thing, I enjoyed it, and I feel great!