Now, if you're like me, you've got some extra around the middle that's been there for a LONG time. So, before we go any further, let me put one thing to rest: if you are thinking of taking up running simply to lose weight, YOU WON'T SUCCEED. Huh? That's right. Running simply to lose weight is an exercise (pun only partly intended...) in frustration. Scale watching will only serve to aggravate and ultimately depress you. So if you're intending to start running, you'll have to have another reason or goal in mind besides weight loss.
If you are truly intent on starting to run, then you need to have a plan, a reason for WHY you are running. Go on the internet and find before/after pictures of people who were a bit large and decided to start running. The difference will astound you! Nearly every one of them, though, set out to complete something, such as a marathon, as a means to lose weight. The training and working towards that goal had the added bonus of weight loss.
For me, it was the desire to run in the Army 10 Miler. Yep, that's right... 10 miles. I knew, from lots of friends who'd done it, that it is a truly amazing run through Washington, DC. So I decided I would give it a go.
Please understand that I wasn't able to go out and start running 10 miles. Far from it! In fact, the first time I went out I barely survived 2 miles. But I believed, correctly, that even though I was WAY short of my goal of being able to run 10 miles I would eventually be able to work my way up to it over the course of 5 months. And as the months went by, my longest runs (I'll explain all of that in the next blog, part 2) slowly climbed from 3 miles, to 5, then to 7, then 8, 10, then finally 12 miles. There were setbacks along the way, but I just continued to work at it and get better and stronger at running.
Finally, October rolled around and I finished a goal that I had set for myself 5 months earlier. I completed the Army 10 Miler. As an added benefit, I've dropped nearly 20 pounds in the process. Yes, losing weight is something that you will do if you stick to your plan and reach your goal. But losing weight shouldn't BE your goal. It wasn't mine and still isn't.
Now, whatever goal you set for yourself should be something that you want to do, something that will challenge and push you but not overwhelm you. For instance, you might decide to complete a half (or even a full) marathon. That's certainly a good goal. It is not achievable if you're goal is to do it next month! When I decided to run the ATM I gave myself 5 months to train for it. In the end, that turned out to be plenty of time. Once you've settled on your goal, you need to do just that: allow yourself 4-5 months to get yourself into shape to do it. You will be absolutely amazed at what you can accomplish! What's more, you can participate in some 5k and 10k races along the way, as part of your training. Those are tons of fun and easy to complete once you've started your running. Further, running is a great deployment activity, a wonderful way to release the stress of having to hold everything together while they are gone.
Finally, you'll find, just like I did, that going for a run will become something you enjoy. I used to bad mouth MANY of my friends who were runners (always to their face!!!) because it didn't look like fun to me. Now, here I am feeling lost if I miss a run. I truly enjoy going out for a run. I love running on a nice day and just being outside. And, like me, before you know it you'll be out for a leisurely run and, without realizing it, you'll have run 5 miles! You'll step on the scale and realize you've lost a ton of weight! And most importantly, you'll feel better about yourself!
In the next installment I'll talk about getting started and what some of the experts on running (yes, there are experts on running) are saying about it. So what are you waiting for? Go get yourself some running shoes and get out there and do something for YOU!!!