So I used to be able to run 10 miles a day, 4 times a week. I trained for 2 half marathons. I felt amazing with my running skills. And at the time, I did love it. Now…not so much. Now, I literally can’t run a mile without feeling miserable both physically and emotionally. I dread the idea of running. Frankly, I dread the idea of any cardio beyond a brisk walk or stroll. I’ve been that way, cardio-free, for about 4 years now. I’m one of those people who modifies a workout if I start sweating too much because the shelf life of my clean hair is way more important than my heart health.
However, recently, I decided I may want to get a little bit more exercise in my life, specifically cardio. I think it would be good for my health, good for my mental clarity, good for my mood and maybe even help me shed the few pounds I’ve put on since I stopped breast feeding. I thought I’d get that cardio in in the form of running because a run outside is sometimes more achievable and less timely than getting myself to a full blown cardio gym class.
I’ve been thinking about starting to run for a while now but have been putting it off. Why? It felt so daunting for me to get started. I knew it would be hard. I knew I wouldn’t have the stamina to do it for very long. I knew I wouldn’t feel fulfilled, more frustrated when I was finished if I could barely run a mile.
So I decided on Saturday, that I was going to run for 3 Minutes. Yes, just 3. I felt like 3 minutes was something I could accomplish. And honestly, didn’t think I could do more than that. My rationale was that if I start with 3 minutes, then the next day I’ll run 4 minutes and the next day I’ll run 5 minutes and in a couple months, I’d be able to run 30 minutes, which for me, is about 3 miles.
So sure enough, without any sort of dread, I set out to run my 3 minutes on Saturday. Mission accomplished, came home felt great. Even sweat a little. It wasn’t easy but I did it. Then yesterday, Sunday, again without dread, I set out to run 4 minutes. It was a tad harder but knowing I only had to keep going until that stopwatch hit 4 minutes, I pushed. Felt great after. Today, at some point after work, I plan to run for 5 minutes. Again, I feel no sense of dread. I don’t feel overwhelmed, I’m not making up excuses in my head why I should put it off until tomorrow. And if 5 minutes is too hard, I’ll run 5 minutes everyday until I feel like I can run 6.
It occurred to me that this is a great approach to many things in life. I feel like for so long in my life I lived with this all or nothing mentality that made me miserable and made me a major procrastinator. If the destination is too overwhelming, we’ll never even start the journey. But if everyday we set a small destination, it’s a continuous string of accomplishments.
Whether you want to start exercising, you want to get a new job, you want to lose weight, you want to start dating, you want to learn a new skill, don’t start at 100% intensity. Do what YOU can do today. If you don’t start now, the time will pass anyways. Think of where you can be by the end of the summer with anything, if you just start with the tiniest bit today. All that matters is mind over matter.