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How I Found My Inner Jock

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Saturday, September 15, 2012

Eleven mile run – done! Or more precisely an eleven mile run-walk-run. I loved it. I ended up feeling great and knowing that I could run more and run faster. And I soon will. Looking forward to it. How did I go from living a sedentary existence to where I am today?

As a kid I remember being chosen last every time. I was embarrassed to run for fear kids would see my fat jiggle. My 5th grade teacher recommended dancing lessons to help awkwardness, not knowing I’d already had three years. I remember my 7th grade coach calling me a “motor moron.” How did I ever find my inner jock?

In 1998 when I hit my top weight of 212 pounds, I had not exercised for more than a decade. Before that a couple times I had started an exercise program at a gym or on my own, but that was just it. I started. Inevitably I overdid it, was so sore I could hardly walk, and would give up. I thought it was just way too hard.

In 1998 I joined Curves. That was the first time I ever exercised fairly regularly. It wasn't too hard and I didn't get sore. I lost 60 pounds, but really did not see any muscle definition nor notice any improvement in my cardio. I did not enjoy the workouts, but endured them in order to lose weight. After I hit my weight goal, I quit. I tried Curves again in 2004-2006, and was really dedicated to getting my workouts in for the first time. It became easier and easier. I used a weighted hula hoop on the “recovery stations” and started really having fun during my workouts.

I changed jobs and Curves wasn’t convenient any more. I walked regularly three days a week for 30 minutes. Pretty soon it was four days a week and then five. Usually I was a little more consistent in the summer than in the winter when it was dark when I got home from work. Then I got a treadmill and consistently walked year round.

For Christmas I got a great present, a Walk Away the Pounds DVD. I loved the indoor walking program and mixing it up with my outdoor walks and my treadmill walks. I stuck to my 5 times a week cardio schedule for several years, but my weight was creeping back up. In 2008 I rejoined Weight Watchers, having regained 25 pounds. I lost the 25 with my 5 days a week exercise routine. I was at the top of the healthy BMI range, but I wanted to make sure I kept it off this time.

That was when I found SparkPeople. I read that exercise was crucial to maintenance. I increased my cardio to 6 days a week, one hour per day. I consistently did a SparkPeople-generated strength training program, too. I added the minimum maintenance food, and was surprised when I continued to lose weight slowly for more than a year.

After four months of SP strength training I was confident enough to join a gym. At our local YMCA I found people at all fitness levels and wish I’d joined earlier. I tried a lot of different exercises – weight machines, pilates, step aerobics, stationary bike, swimming, etc. Zumba became one of my favorites and I found I really enjoyed 70 minutes on the elliptical trainer. My new MP3 player also helped jazz up my workouts.

In January 2011 at the age of 61, a poster caught my eye, “5K Road Race for People Over 50.” I wondered if I could run 3.1 miles. I jumped on the treadmill and did it without much problem. I entered the race and placed third in my age group. It was only the 12th time I had ever run and the third time I had ever run that far. I thought maybe I should start training for real! In the following year I ran six 5Ks and one 10K. Now I’m training for my first half marathon on November 18th.

If you just read the previous paragraph you might think it was foolishly impetuous of me to start running so late in life, but taken in context, the opposite is true. I found my inner jock by taking slow consistent steps over years and gradually increasing the intensity and length of my workouts.

I’ve learned if I dread a workout, I need to slow down. It doesn’t need to hurt to be beneficial; in fact, you should end up feeling great. I do!!
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