As 2012 gets underway, many people are thinking about how best to keep (or even start) those New Year’s resolutions. Many people will resolve to lose weight, but will not put together a plan to do it. Others will resolve to exercise more. Often, they will start out strong, but burn out after a couple of weeks. Once they take that first day off, it becomes easier and easier to take more days off and then, eventually, to quit altogether. This is why joining a gym can be so costly. People pay for a year-long membership, but quit after a month or so. As often as not, people join gyms so that they can get on the treadmill or bike. From my budget sensitive side, I have trouble justifying this. If you are going to invest money to exercise, you should buy a good pair of shoes and some running outfits. After that, it costs you nothing but time to hit the road running!
My resolution started last June. I have had moderate back pain for years and nothing seemed to work. Over time, I found that “resting” my back only made things worse. My strength and cardio decreased along with my energy levels and my pain levels only got worse. In May, I heard about a local 5K that was supporting wounded veterans. As a veteran myself, I figured that I could run 3 miles to support wounded veterans. It might hurt a bit, but I could finish it in support of those who had it worse off than I did. As it turns out, that 5K put me on my back for about 3 days. It was hard to walk or even move much. I resolved right then that I would start up a running program. I started a Couch to 5K program and, when I finished, I kept right on going. Within 6 months of that first 5K, I had run an 10K, the Wounded Warrior Dash, and a half-marathon.
The key that I found to all of this was that speed doesn’t matter. If you get off of the couch and try to win the Boston Marathon the first time out, you will quit within a couple of weeks. Your first goal should not be for speed or time, but for completion. Your legs need to learn to go the distance before they can learn to do it for speed.
The best advice that I can give you for starting the new year off right is to literally take it one step at a time. Put one foot in front of the other. When it hurts or gets hard, don’t stop moving, just slow it down a bit. If you give it all you have, then you won’t have anything left to give, but if you keep on giving a little at a time, you’ll find that you have more than you thought possible and that it keeps growing all the time.