sometime within the past two and a half years and a well-developed and monitored schedule i quit running. it was a slow burn out really. leading up to the time that we started thinking about having children i trained for and ran my first marathon. i marked my days by a different calendar during those months. it was long runs, tempo runs, weekly mileage, and rest days. after that race i started to slowly drift away from running. it wasn't a conscious decision, but as is often pointed to in situations like this, life simply started happening. i stopped lacing up my running shoes, started making it from one feeding to the next, worked a 9-5 job in between, and quit making time to run. and i paid for it.
it wasn't a quick change in my life that indicated i had totally stopped running. i didn't throw out my running shoes, or abandon the solace of running on a cold morning against a crisp wind blowing into my face. i simply irregularly trotted out the door on a whim. and that's all running was to me for nearly a year and a half. when it struck my fancy i took to the roads and felt the twinge of inability to do what i once could do with little effort. inevitably at the end of the run i would tell myself i was out of shape, needed to run more often, or at least exercise in some way.
i can't tell you what happened exactly. it wasn't a magical moment that changed things in my life. sometime around a year and a half ago i stepped on a scale. i was at my heaviest weight and i could visibly start to notice not only clothes not fitting, but pictures of me looking differently and close family members gently suggesting that i had put on a few pounds. around this time i was unemployed for the first time, to be followed by a short stent of employment, and now entrenched in nine months of my second tour of unemployment - and that perhaps has been the biggest change. i had plenty of idol time on my hands after doing household chores and job searching every day. so i started to run again. and slowly it came back to me, much like the feeling of riding a bicycle for the first time.
reminding myself to take things slowly and to not push too hard too fast were difficult concepts. running slowly became something that i was doing again, was feeding my soul again, and was a priority. i gained the perspective that to effect change in one's life requires making priorities that can facilitate the achievement. after a while the pounds started to come off. and after a year and a half i have lost 40 pounds.
i was recently asked if i had any tips to help people who are looking to run in order to lose weight. this is what i shared:
- keep pushing yourself to accomplish and work towards your goals. the best way to do this is to set concrete goals with concrete checkpoints, i.e. sign up for a 5k in the future and that will help keep you motivated to keep running and working toward a real event.
- find someone to run with you. running can be an intimidating sport – it always seems like everyone else knows more than you – but the benefits of having a running partner or group far outweigh the drawbacks. it will be built in accountability for the days when you’d rather stay in bed. my brother provides that for me in the form of picking races for us to run together. i can’t let him down by flaking out simply because i haven’t been training – it keeps me going on the bad days.
- my running mantra has gotten me through many a workout and run that i simply wanted to quit – “practice not quitting. practice not quitting.” pick something that will help refocus you on your ultimate goals and take you out of the present moment of pain, discomfort, or disillusionment.
- there will be good days and there will be bad days when you are running consistently. don’t get too down on yourself when you are not seeing the results you want to see during a run. remember: there will be another run this week and you can work towards your goals then.
- finally, to use a racing metaphor, this is a marathon not a sprint. losing weight through running will take time and will be a combination of exercise and change in diet. while the results may not be immediate, they will come and you should celebrate them when they arrive.
ultimately when i consider my running journey the pounds gained and lost are inconsequential to regaining a part of who i am. there is no bigger joy for me than when i come around a final turn, into the view of the finishing chute, or just through the front door of the house and two toddlers are cheering their dad on.
it doesn't have to be running. we all lose the passion, excitement, or fulfillment of hobbies from time to time. choose today to reclaim that hobby and regain part of who you are. happy running.
have you ever slowly lost a hobby that you found out later made a big difference to you?