The weather is beginning to break with cooler mornings, which is ideal for walks or runs. In the last column I made reference to getting back to the basics. Where are you with your fitness?
No matter who I speak with, there are a variety of reasons why people exercise and your reason is no different. And no matter what you may read or hear, it’s always best to consult with your doctor first to make sure it’s safe.
There is one step before even that, however: Seriously consider the question of do you want to do any exercise? There should be a reason and an understanding of what you expect to get out of it.
Like everything in your life, you need the goal and the plan to get there. To achieve the goal, you may not get there by yourself.
I started running as a form of fitness in 1982 and met my present coach through my job, in 1984, and we remain friends today. Joe has helped to get me though 10Ks, marathons, and 50-milers. It was a gradual process. There were words of encouragement and pointers to help make corrections, but I had to do the work.
I needed that desire to want to achieve my goals. No, it was never to win a race because that would have been a nightmare and not even a dream.
I ask, what can I do to help you? Do I offer you a training plan by the week which includes the short workouts and the long runs on the weekend? Do I give you a list of races that you should run to test how your training has progressed? I could do all of those things, but would they work?
There are athletes with whom I have spoken that been running for years and started in college but stopped. The reasons came in all shades, and if military was in the picture that was a game-changer as competitive running slowed. Once marriage and the family comes into the picture, that can also mean a major change.
I am sure there are many of you in that position. The demands of the children come before yours. There are times when you may have selfish thoughts, but they lose out.
The older you get, the more demands are placed on your time. You are faced with the questions of what is important and what to do first. Do you talk things over with your spouse to determine what you do and what impact your decisions will make on family and work?
I have been receiving a running publication since the 1980s and there were others along the way which are now out of publication. It never fails that I see the main themes of how to get faster, buy the latest technology, what right foods to eat, what is the best training program to follow, and what is the best race to run. The list goes on, but does any of these fall in line with your lifestyle?
What day are you going to look in the mirror and say, “I am ready to make a commitment”? Are you ready for making a life-changing decision? You need to understand when you step up to the line, it is a long-term commitment.
Give it some thought. It is not the workout that gives you the results, it’s the amount of effort that you put into it.
We all like to stay in a comfortable zone where we don’t “hurt,” but we want results. The challenge is you against yourself. Select that favorite event that you like and each year participate in it with a goal of improving until you reach that goal and then you will do it afterwards for the fun of it.
My very first race in 1982 was a half-marathon (13.1 miles). I had no idea what a half-marathon was or what it would feel like. There was no concept of time, but I thought two hours sounded good. The race was in Philadelphia and I finished in 1 hour 59 minutes–and I was proud of myself.
Suddenly, I was bit by the bug and I wanted more. Over the following years I returned each year until one year I ran 1 hour 22 minutes. I continued to run the race until one year my time was 2 hours–back to where I started, but I was still happy.
There is nothing wrong with doing what makes the heart happy.
Speaking of the heart, I am counting from July 10th when I had my surgery. In May I ran my 110th marathon but it took me 6 hours at a nice relaxed pace with running and walking. The month of August was walking and using the elliptical and the stationary bicycle. I did not start back running until September. The difficult part is getting through the mental barrier.
We all like to cling to what we “used to do.” The new focus is “what I want to do.” It is not easy and requires practice.
With determination I have finished 3 miles in 35 minutes on the treadmill. The goal: using the graphic of the track I run slowly on the straight part of the track and then I do a brisk walk on the turns. When I first started, it was taking me an hour. I do this two days a week with a break in between the days on the cycle.
On Saturdays, I have my long run of 6 miles which takes 1 hour and 22 minutes and this is accomplished by running 2 minutes and then a brisk walk of 2 minutes. There is some progress being made, but it’s slow. My mind knows that I can do better but the body is not there yet.
This is no different than coming off an injury or any layoff. It will take patience and that desire and determination.
I am making my move and now it is your turn. My goal is that sometime in 2018 I will run marathon number 111 with a goal to finish because that will make the heart happy!
Note: This is from the American Heart Association’s Facebook post of my interview. I hope you will be encouraged by my story!