I have run on and off for a long time. From May 2010 to May 2011, I did not run at all. I traveled; I did some hiking; I did some lifting of the 40 pound backpack from time to time, but otherwise was not that active. I did not want to worry about when I would run or the safety of running (very often a concern in some of the places we went). I wanted to have fun and see the sights. So that is what I did. I also gained about 10 pounds. When I got home from my travels, I felt blah. I knew I had been eating badly and not exercising. I decided to put an end to it.
I did not start running again to lose weight. I did it for many reasons. I had just moved to a new place and started a new job. I needed to have a goal. I needed a way to keep myself busy in an otherwise unknown place. I needed to get rid of that heavy feeling. I also changed my eating habits. Before, I had been eating out a lot. I ate everything on my plate because I did not know when we would eat again. Even when I did not eat out, food often consisted of whatever I could get my hands on and even better, what was easy to travel with or get while traveling. There were a lot of sandwiches, cup of noodles, tuna, crackers, jerky and other non-perishable items.
Six months later, I feel 100% better. I have lost weight, but more importantly, I lost that heavy feeling that I had. Running has played a big part in this feeling. I have something to look forward to and it is not only good for my health but it is good for my mental stability. My suggestion to you, if you are trying to achieve the same is:
Make a Schedule: If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Even if your plan consists of “run 1 mile, 1x per week”, make it and try your best to stick to it. Achieving goals, no matter how small, makes you feel productive, which in turn makes you feel good about yourself, which in turn keeps you going strong and making new goals (next month maybe you will run TWO miles, 2x per week!)
Sign Up For a Race: If you feel brave, signing up for a race, a 5k maybe, is the best thing to do. It gives you something to look forward to/strive for. Also for me, it seems harder to back out once I am signed up. And I am not going to go at it half-way. Once I sign up and pay, I have made that commitment to myself to do as well as I can. It makes you more accountable. Besides, the most fun part about running is the races. If you don’t experience a race, you may never know the true joy of the sport. If you are not ready to run, join one and walk! It's fun to be surrounded by such energy!
Baby Steps: Everyone starts somewhere. I ran a lot in the past, but having time off brought me right back to the beginning. When I first tried to run 2 miles, I had trouble. Don’t worry about it. A good strategy is to run until you can’t run anymore (100 feet? That’s okay!), then walk for a little while, then run again until you can’t, then walk. Alternate this pattern for a certain amount of time. You can also use time as your guide. A run one minute, walk two (or three or four) minutes schedule is a good idea. Then you gradually increase your running segment and decrease your walking segment little by little and eventually you will get rid of your walking segment altogether.
Change in eating habits were also a huge part of my increase in energy. But this post is long enough. Stay tuned for information on how I changed my food intake in order to feel more energetic, healthier, faster and slimmer.
Dont' forget to go check out Jill's Fitness Friday link up!
Have you ever taken a long break from running? What advice would you have for someone just starting out (or getting back into it after a break?)