I just looked it up in my Fitbit app: I began running on September 10th; that’s seven weeks ago. I’m astounded by the progress I’ve made in that short time. I have been purposefully taking it slowly and trying hard to not overdo it. In the past, my efforts in getting back into running were always derailed by my over-enthusiasm and injuring myself by doing too much too soon. Not this time.
My first run, looking back at it now, was laughably short: 1.63 miles. My pace was 12:17 which, compared with my last pace, was pretty slow. But at the time, my primary goal was to complete a run without stopping to walk. I wanted to do more than 1.5 miles and I wanted to run the entire time. I accomplished that goal and then let my legs rest for a day before going out again and aiming for more. I reduced my pace and increased the distance by a quarter of a mile. My main goal was to never give up and walk unless I injured myself. So far, I’ve been able to complete every run without walking.
My most recent run was an easy 3.12 mile run. My pace was a very comfortable 10:25 pace. I could have run faster, but since I plan on running 5 times this week, I decided to play it safe and run it easy. Tomorrow I will run an extra mile, so the pace may not be much faster, but adding 33% more to the run distance will be the extra effort for tomorrow. The following day, I may work on pace. We’ll see.
The bottom line, however, is that I’m now able to get out and run without it being a bad thing. It’s not something I dread. It’s not something that I feel horrible doing. What I didn’t expect was that the opposite happened: I actually enjoy it, and I feel good doing it. I look forward to it. After a few days off from running, I find myself waking up at night excitedly awaiting the alarm clock so I can begin my run. This is very weird to me; I’ve never felt this way about exercise before.
My ultimate goal is to run 4-5 miles daily 5-6 times a week. I don’t necessarily want to run marathons or half-marathons, but I would like to be fit. I like the way I feel after my runs, and when I need to run out to the car to get something and run back into a store, I’m not out of breath and sweaty. When I went to the Texas A&M football game last weekend, I was able to run 20 rows up to my seat without losing my breath. It was exhilarating! Having the stamina to do things that only a year ago were out of the question for me has really changed my outlook on life.
I know I’m a big proponent of using diet to change your health, and I still firmly believe, based on my own experience, that diet is more important for weight loss than exercise. However, adding exercise if you are able to engage in physical activity definitely improves your quality of life. I would never lie to you about something like this. I was the guy who swore off exercise at the beginning of my journey. I have seen the error of my ways, and I admit I was wrong. Get out there and move. Start by walking. Progress into jogging, and then if you’re able, into running. You won’t regret it.