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Friday, April 28, 2017

Learning How to Run Again



I will never forget the day I realized I had forgotten how to run. Don’t jump to conclusions, I was never a REAL runner who trained and ran races. What I am talking about is the simple basics and ability to revv up the engines and blast forward in a run…for fun, to move quickly out of the way, to chase after a kid running in the street, etc… I realized I had resorted to scurrying, something in between walking and running.

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How did this happen? When did I forget how to run? I think it has a lot to do with the sedentary lives we lead and then as we gain weight we tend to avoid those activities that put more strain on us and our bodies. You can be plenty busy and not have to run. Most moms who have given birth and gained weight know what it is like to tend to the kids, be plenty busy, yet not spend any time “running.”

It occurred to me that running is an important skill to have and maintain. You never know when you might need it and its important to know you can easily engage the skill when you do need it--like riding a bike or knowing how to drive a clutch car.

Being able to run is also important for our health. It is great for our hearts, lowers cholesterol, boosts our immune system, expands our lung capacity, improves our mood through releasing endorphins, and even enhances bone density. Running can assist us with weight management. You don’t have to be a long distance runner to access the benefits of running. You just have to do it and practice it regularly.

The key is getting started. When I first decided I had to figure out how to run again I was the most overweight I had ever been. I had three small children and a lot on my plate. I FELT physically heavy. I wasn’t sure how to revv up my body to get to a run. The first time I tried it out was on the sidewalk in front of my house. It felt awkward and uncomfortable. I really didn’t feel myself. I only managed a sprint across the front lawn. Something inside of me refused to give up. I couldn’t accept that I could no longer run. I was way too young for such a thought.

I kept practicing. I set slightly longer goals for my short runs. It started to get easier, even though I still felt awkward and I was always out of breath. I played “running” tag with my kids. I played counting games with myself. It started to become easier and easier. I realized the biggest barrier to my success was my embarrassment over not being able to run and how I imagined how I looked when I ran. Ultimately it was more important to me to know how to run and feel better because of it than the embarrassment over not knowing how to run and what I looked like doing it.

In my research I came across a woman, Julie Creffield, who started a website challenging the notion that people are “too fat to run.” I even wrote a blog about it. My favorite phrase is “Running has no size!” It is true.

It is now a number of years later, I have lots of running/cross training shoes, and I run a couple of times a week outside, on the treadmill or on the track at the “Y.”  Weather doesn’t stop me! It feels great. It does improve my mood and my numbers are in great shape, and although I am no skinny woman, I am 50 pounds lighter than I was when I learned how to run again. Running does help me maintain my weight.

I’m glad I wanted to face the reality that I had forgotten to run. I am proud of myself for persevering. It meant putting something about me first. When you struggle with weight there is an inherent self worth issue. We should all remember we deserve to conquer our demons because every inch and pound of us is worth it!

If you are wanting to start running in earnest, check out my blog, #TooFatToRun: New Runner's 6 Tips for Success, or the many other resources out there to help you get started. My one important tip—make it fun and all about the adventure of a healthy lifestyle.

To Your Health! Live Vibrant!



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