Unexciting, but I appreciate its efficiency.
Running has never appealed to me. Actually, exercise in general has not been a priority in my life. But now, in my late 40s, I am finding it harder to shed that extra kilo or two, and hours at my desk every day are not helping. When I was younger, I could keep on top of my weight. If nothing else worked, I could rely on nervous energy to burn off unwanted weight, but that just isn’t the case anymore. The relentless cortisol seems to add to the extra layer around my waist.
With my primary goals being to lose some weight (this decade) and to find an inexpensive activity that does not take up much time, all fingers pointed me towards a running app. Perish the thought! I avoided running like the plague at school and had continued avoiding it up to this point…
Working with a running app…
After some considerable thought, I tried out the running app – a free app that promised to get me running 5 km in eight weeks; a slow and steady climb, which suited me fine.
It took some adapting, from finding the constant discipline to be out on the roads three times a week come rain or shine, to discovering a route that I could just about stomach, whilst also looking the part.
There were many times I considered giving up. Things annoyed me, from the unexpected yank on my ears when my arm accidently caught the cord of my headphones (I must go cordless), to the confident over-60s team of women running past me, chatting, and taking the hill climb in their stride. My puce-coloured face, that lingered long after the run, radiated to the world I had never done exercise like this in my life. The shame of it!
I finally reached the end of my eight weeks, completing the full programme by surprisingly running – though not particularly enjoying – 5 km in 40 minutes.
Eight weeks was a manageable timeline to get something new off the ground! I followed the programme on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, starting off by walking and slowly progressing to a full run after two months.
How did I get on with the app?
The app worked well for me. I had my very own personal trainer at my side, egging me on, but not to the point of being annoying. She spoke at the right intervals and her ‘non-presence’ took away any feeling of being judged.
A year later, how do I feel?
Running isn’t a sport I enjoy or look forward to. I dread it whilst tying up my laces, and the feeling continues through the run itself. In a nutshell I hated it as a kid, I tried it, it still doesn’t appeal to me! But the benefits outweigh my resentment and here is why I am still running:
#1) It gives me the best return for the time invested.
I am burning more calories for less time when I run over any other exercise I have tried. We are encouraged, at the bare minimum, to do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity a week or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity a week. On certain days, time really matters. If I can reach my goal quicker by doing something like running as opposed to a brisk walk, I will choose to run, and leave my wonderful forest walks for the weekends.
#2) I’m sleeping better.
I struggle with sleep, something I inherited from my mother, and I am just like her after a dreadful night’s rest – miserable and up for a fight. The sleep I am getting following my regular running regime is certainly deeper and more rejuvenating, which is encouraging.
#3) I am losing weight.
I have finally started shifting some of that ‘midlife’ weight. As running also raises your metabolism and tones your muscles, according to my fitness watch I continue to burn calories after my run.
#4) I get the feel good factor.
The dopamine ‘feel-good factor’ is a real thing and I bask in its glory at the end of every run. On top of that is there a feeling of achievement. Exercise with achievable goals is a great place to start for those of us, especially, that feel a little behind on the achievement platform. Knowing I can comfortably run 5 km has had a far greater effect on my emotional health than I ever imagined!
#5) It’s convenient.
Whether I’m at home, at the office or visiting my folks, I can pop my running gear in my bag and run from anywhere, without much fuss or cost.
Running regularly and making it part of my life has required work, which I’m realising is no bad thing. I am building up a little robustness. My life had become a little ‘too easy’ doing only I found enjoyable and avoiding discomfort.
It has brought about a bit more structure and discipline to my days and this is seen in the quality of my work.
In the future, I am not looking to run any marathons (but who knows!). What I know is that I am running regularly. I have shifted a little of the weight, and my improved fitness gives me an appetite to do more – whether it be some weights in the lounge, a cycle in the park or a swim in the ocean.