Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Get Moving and Don't Stop

There are tons of reasons to run. You can run to lose weight. You can run to complete a specific distance in a race. You can run because you want to increase your fitness and decrease the odds of health-related illness. Et cetera. All of these reasons are fantastic if they get you moving.

The problem arises for new runners when their goal is so narrowly defined or so difficult to achieve within a specific time frame that they become discouraged. That's when the runner has to confront choices. Soldier on with altered goals? Give up? Or start to see the big picture?

You can step back and take some time off from running without giving it up entirely. You can decide to get coaching or do some more research, devote more time to it, run more, run less. It doesn't have to be all-consuming or completely abandoned.

My running goals have changed constantly. My first goal was to complete a marathon with my daughter. The second goal was a marathon the following season, during which period I determined that I would try to do one spring marathon and one fall marathon per year. Those marathons would be destination marathons. That worked perfectly for a couple of years; we had some excellent vacations, tons of fun, and I became completely hooked on the sport and the distance.

Then I decided to fit an extra marathon into each season. So for the last couple of years I've done four marathons a year, and started fitting an extra 10 km or 30 km run into the mix. The destination part still fits in, but some of those marathons are local to try to keep the bank account healthy.

Throughout the evolution of my changed race goals, I've steadily become leaner and faster. This comes from steady changes in nutrition and fitness regimes beyond the simple act of running. It all fits together, it's all part of a lifestyle change that has me feeling better than I've ever felt in my life.

It all truly started with my determination eight years ago to quit smoking,. lose weight and work out regularly at the gym. Achieving those initial goals, making those changes permanent, was the first step in getting to this point.

Where does it go from here? Can't say for sure. But I certainly see myself continuing to run marathons until my body stops me, and I still see myself doing the training mileage required to do so. And even then I intend to continue with some form of fitness regime. I have a genetic tendency to become diabetic for one thing, and I intend to fight that possibility with all my heart.

Age marches on irrevocably. and motivation ultimately comes down to this: if you see a tiger loping toward you, you don't start crying or whining. You don't demand that somebody do something. You don't swagger and go to meet it. You take practical, immediate action. You only get one chance at this thing called life, so don't just sit there and let your body and your mind bloat and wither away. Get with it, stay active, for the long term. And push the envelope, because you'll never be sorry that you gave it everything you've got.

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