So as I am meant to be ‘mostly talking about running’, today that’s just what I am going to do. As exercise motivators and manuals will tell you and on this I agree, the success to any training or fitness regime is having goals and plans and sticking to those commitments.
Who does not love a plan ? Since the days of revising for O grades I have found few things quite as satisfying as drawing up my schedule, colour coding , adding in some mind maps and hey – sticking it on the wall.
Following the plan to the letter is something quite different, and as a procrastinator of many years standing, I have to admit the plan ( or deciding on the plan ) is often much more fun than the implementation.
So it was for me when it came to exercise, and with predictable regularlity I found myself signing up for some class or other ( yoga, body conditioning, pilates,body pump, aqua aerobics) and then after two or three sessions managing to find excuses or reasons not to finish the course.
While I am no slacker in life ( well maybe just occasionally ) I admit that when it came to following through on exercise commitment, I struggled to keep the faith.
My first attempts at running also fell into this pattern , as armed with a book and training plan, I rarely managed to keep to the schedule. Mostly I found the running unenjoyable; I felt really unfit and dispirited by how difficult it seemed to be to run without feeling like I was dying – how did everyone else seem to make it look so effortless ? But at the same time I was too impatient to follow the prescribed build up from walk/ run intervals suggested. I know that lots of folk have found this approach perfect, but it did not work for me.
All very unsatisfactory.
I was poised to abandon running to my ever growing ‘tried it but its not for me’ list of exercises, when one Saturday watching my daughter play hockey, I found myself chatting to a fellow hockey Mum about life,the universe and running and mentioning in passing that I had recently taken up running I discovered that she was also a runner.
I remember being impressed by how much running she did and admitting to her that I was not really enjoying running, but had considered entering a race at some point to have a goal, if only I could get past my own inability to keep running for long enough to cover any distance!!
My fellow Mum was very positive about running and suggested I go running with her sometime- saying she would be happy to run at any pace and help me build up the distance. She seemed very encouraging, and by then we had shared a few chilly Saturdays watching our daughters play hockey- so after some hesitation I asked if she would be happy to go running with me one weekend.
This was in March 2009 and the rest they say is history.
Without a doubt I would not still be running today, had I not met my running mentor and now good friend Alison. From that first run I discovered that the missing ingredient for me in keeping to a regular exercise plan, is to have a running buddy and to make committments.
Some pepole love to run alone, or with music, but for me running with friends is the perfect antidote to modern day living !
Looking back – I realised that when I had successfully kept to a regular exercise programme, they had all involved a social element. I used to cycle most weeks with a close friend, until a change of job made it difficult to find the time, and before my older daughter moved to university, we used to go swimming together on a Monday evening.
Everyone is different, and you have to find what works for you, but when you can mix exercise with pleasure – I think there is much more chance of sticking to the plan.