Running in the family

Running in the family

Finding a routine

I perform much better when there is a timeline involved. In college, I appreciated professors that had a whole semester mapped out with dates for exams and design critiques. At work, when feeling overwhelmed by multiple projects, it always gave me a sense of calm to list deadlines for deliverables in order to get a sense of how I would plan each workday. Even with keeping the home I realized that only when I write down when I wanted each task accomplished would I get up and do them—be it cleaning out the refrigerator or organizing the children’s closets.

So when it came time to get serious about exercise (Texas-sized portions were not helping in the keeping fit department) I needed to find a routine that I would stick to. I had tried going to the gym, signing up for classes, even buying workout DVD’s to use at home. Nothing really worked in the long run—no pun intended—because, as we all know it, life happens and the house needs to be cleaned, kids shuttled to after-school activities, groceries to be bought and errands to run.

On a whim I signed up for a half-marathon. It was June 2014, and the race was a day before my birthday in October. I couldn’t run more than a mile or two without getting winded and my knees hurting so to run 13.1 miles seemed like a huge hurdle, and I had less than five months to prepare for it. Remembering the advice of a friend who had multiple marathons and triathlons under his belt, I downloaded a running app and entered the date of race. It then calculated backwards and broke down each week with an overview of what I would be working on, and each day with specific miles or cross-training to do. I also decided to tell friends and family about it. What better way to be accountable than to have everyone you know asking you how things are going? What do you know… the plan worked. I finished the half-marathon and in less time than I thought I would.

Wanting to be more intentional in improving my personal record times, I decided to join a running group that meets all-year round, regardless of whether there is a race to be training for or not. Meeting at 5AM on weekdays and 6AM on Saturdays is definitely a commitment. Running in the dark, in the cold and pouring rain is much easier to push through when there are people in front, behind, and beside you. Since then I have completed a second half- marathon 20 minutes faster than the first, and am currently training for the Houston full-marathon this January.

Kids running and training apps
Left, my kids running along the trail; Right, my go-to apps

Running with (instead of after) the kids

However, what I find to be the bigger story than my own is that I inadvertently helped inspire friends and family to start their own running journey as well. My 8-year old daughter joined an after-school student group that, over the course of the school-year, would run 26.2 miles, read 26 books, and do 26 community service deeds. She also entered her first race and got her first medal—running a mile for a Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving Day. When some girlfriends told me they were interested in running, we formed a group and invited others to join. We meet two Saturday mornings each month to walk/run, and even signed up for a 5K race as a team.

As 2016 starts and I’m less than two weeks from the full-marathon, I need a new deadline or milestone to keep me going.  Maybe I’ll run a total of 1,000 miles by the end of year, or sign up for a triathlon (knowing full well I wobble on a bike and can hardly swim). A new goal to push me beyond what I thought was possible—oh so excited for what this year can bring.

Sticking to it

Here are some apps I use to keep me running:
  • The Nike+ Running app gives your time/pace as you run, shows a map of your course and pace at each mile, and tracks total miles by week/month/ year. It also has a virtual “coach” that breaks down a training calendar for different race distances and running experience.
  • FitBit‘s app keeps track of all your steps (not just from running). The calorie counter makes you realize what you think you ate vs. what you really ate in calories is not the same (boo on that one ?). For accountability, virtual challenges with friends and family keep you motivated to move.
  • Runners World Go also has training calendars, gives the weather forecast and suggests what you should wear (great for when the weather gets chillier), also good articles from Runners World Magazine.
  • Map My Run allows you to download course maps, which come in handy when you’re traveling and in a new city but need to continue training.
  • Using Streaks is just like crossing out a day on a calendar—it’s a visual aid to keep you going. It shows your longest streak and where you are as of today, can also add notes of what happened that day be it the weather, how you felt after working out, what routine you did, etc. Nothing gets you going like thinking you’d be going from 127 days of doing something back to 0.
  • FitRadio has free music and you can choose either the genre of music you want or by the kind of workout you’re doing (yoga, running, cardio, spin, etc.)

I’d like to know, what tricks/apps do you use to stay on track? Do you listen to music, audio books, or podcasts? Or do you like your quiet time?

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