Friday, May 9, 2014

Friday Five Fitness Truths

Yay, it's Friday! I have an exciting weekend coming up so I'm especially excited for Friday today.  And of course, it is time for the Friday Five link up with Cynthia, Mar, and Courtney.

The theme for this week is "Fitness Truths." I'm still a pretty new runner (just started last Fall and only started in earnest in January) so I'm going to talk about five truths I've learned as someone new to fitness.  I was never an athletic or even energetic child.  I was always the one who'd rather sit somewhere quietly to read rather than go play outside. This continued into adulthood. And so I was definitely new to trying to lead a fit lifestyle, but here are some things I've learned since last year.

1.  It will be hard to start this journey if you're truly new to fitness.  I don't know why it surprised me, but it was really, really hard to start running.  I could barely get to the end of the block without slowing down, gasping for breath and clutching my side.  Start as slow as you need but still challenge yourself to feel uncomfortable.  It's ok for it to be hard.  It's supposed to be.  And don't give up because...

2. It gets easier. I'm not going to lie.  I've tried to start leading a more active lifestyle in the past.  And I always gave it up.  It was just too hard, too unenjoyable, too uncomfortable.  But something strange happened when I kept at it long enough.  After a couple weeks, running began to feel better.  It began to get easier, though still not easy.  It felt like there was some magic hump that I got over with my base fitness level that allowed me to continue running with much less discomfort and it actually started to be fun.  I began to wonder who I was that I was actually beginning to look forward to going out for a run!?! I still remember the day I turned to Mike and said in awe that I was having more good runs than bad runs. That was a moment that still serves to motivate me because I never want to get to that place where I have to struggle again to reach a base level of fitness.

3. But it's never easy.  Notice I said it got easier, but not easy.  And that I was having more good runs than bad runs but not that I never had bad runs.  Be prepared for the fact that there will probably always be bad runs out there for various reasons.  You didn't sleep well, you didn't eat well, the pollen is high, the cat slept on your face... It will continue to be a challenge but that's a good thing.  One of the things this journey has taught me is that I don't need to be afraid of challenges and that I should even seek them out because I can succeed at overcoming them.  I used to have a bad run and begin to question my goals of running a half marathon and 10 miler in the Fall.  The negative thoughts would begin to seep in and make me question whether I could really do this.  Maybe it just isn't meant for me.  But now, I know that a bad run is just as much a part of this journey as a good run.  And I learn more from the bad runs than the good runs.  They're important to embrace and overcome.

My 4th 5k of the year and the hardest due to the cold, rain, and my hat flying off repeatedly

4. Don't ignore signs that something is wrong. So it will be hard, but if things begin to hurt in unusual ways or seem harder than they should be, don't ignore it.  Research and see if a doctor or physical therapist if needed.  I had a hard time breathing last year and initially I thought it was just because I was out of shape.  And allergies.  But the allergies and breathing difficulty lasted all year round.  And the over the counter allergy medicines were becoming less effective.  I went to the doctor and it turned out I was mildly allergic to my cats! I got some new medicine and started keeping the cats out of my bedroom, and my quality of life improved enormously.  It was definitely something I wish I had looked into earlier.

Plotting my demise?

5.  People will be looking at you, but maybe not in the way you think. I was very self-conscious when I started running outside.  I was also self conscious at the gym.  I was worried people would look at me and know that I didn't know what I was doing.  But you know what, I don't know that anyone had negative thoughts about me.  If so, no one ever said that.  However, I know that people have noticed what I'm doing in a positive way.  You will inspire people in your life.  Co-workers, family and friends will be interested in what you're doing, see the positive changes in your life, and may even want to join you. And the more people interested in leading a healthy lifestyle, the better!

So all of this is to say that if you're trying to begin a healthier lifestyle, don't be scared away by how difficult it may seem in the beginning.  Persevere through that initial hump and you will be rewarded by finding new enjoyment in being active, by being better able to deal with challenges, and by being an inspiration to other people in your life.

I hope everyone has a good weekend! I'm doing the Semper Fi 5k tomorrow morning and then going out for an early birthday dinner and concert. Anything exciting for you this weekend?