How I Lost Weight, The Exercise Part: Running

A few weeks ago I wrote a post about how I lost weight. I listed things that I felt had contributed to my success and figured maybe I'd expand on those individually. This is what I wrote about fitness:

Added Exercise, little by little, but in an organized, programmatic way.

Then I went on to list the things I've done.

Starting and Completing a Couch To 5K program
This was something I'd thought about for a long time, but never started for whatever reason. About a month or so after I'd started Weight Watchers (WW), I thought it was time for me to add real exercise. I figured it was long overdue for my general health (weight aside) and it might help keep up the progress of my weight loss that I presumed would slow down.

I downloaded a free iPhone app for a Coach 2 5K program. Mine was from active.com, but there are plenty to choose from. So the idea is simple, you run/walk in intervals three times per week. The program runs for 9 weeks, and at the end you should be running 30 minutes without stopping (you actually don't run intervals beyond Week 6, if I'm recalling correctly, but the time per run increases). Obviously, this doesn't mean you are running a 30 minute 5k, just that you are running for 30 minutes, but if you can run that long, odds are that you can run a 5k.

I got a little freaked out after Week 3 because I found the longer intervals very challenging. I made the mistake of "looking ahead" and realized in Week 5 you run a 20 minute interval. I just knew I wouldn't be able to do it. But I did, which was really satisfying. When the daylight got shorter in the Fall, I did find it harder to get out between daylight and work time (I wasn't interested in running before daylight), so I kind of stayed in the week 7/8 time frame for a bit and finally wrapped up the program in December. Then I decided I wanted to run a true 5k length and ran at a nearby greenway around a lake which was pretty rewarding too (I actually went 3.4 miles, which seemed really impossible a few month earlier). Since that time, I've run in a 5K "race" and run that distance a number of times since. My longest run is 4 miles (again on a local greenway).

Using a specific playlist on my iPhone has proved to be helpful. I found songs that had a good beat that matched my cadence. I also use a specific playlist for the 5k race, leaving 3 of my favorite "running songs" for last so that I would have some level of confidence that I could run through those final songs to the finish line.

I'm still running, but since I added a "boot camp" in January, I've not been as consistent, which bothers me a bit. I'm really proud of finally being "able to run" and don't want to lose that, so a goal is to find the time and motivation to continue. I know that "pre-planning" is really a huge help, and I need to be as good about that as I have in the past.

One of the things I have done that helps is making use of "dead time" that I normally would just waste. For example, in all the years I've been a "soccer Mom" and having to bring kids to field an hour ahead of the game, I'd usually just read a magazine or the newspaper or talk to other parents or run an errand. This year when we've had to travel to games (meaning we ride together), I've made sure to use that time for exercise. Last weekend, we went to Winston-Salem for a 9am game, meaning we were at the fields at 8am. I dressed in running clothes and despite the wind and the drizzle, I put my time in. I wasn't sure how long a loop around the fields was, but ended up running 1.3 miles. Since that was kind of short and I still had plenty of time, I went over to a small field with cement "bleachers" and ran those for another 15 minutes. I have to say it was probably the most fun I had exercising in a long time! Using my running playlist made a big difference. Here's the "bleachers" (iPhone photo):

BB&T Soccer Complex

I try to do the same thing if I find an hour that's "available" on the weekends. I can get a 2+ mile run done in under 30 minutes, so if I've got an hour, I can probably squeeze in a run and shower in an hour and change (counting drying my hair). So if we've got somewhere to go at 9am, I can certainly find the time to get up, run, shower and still feel like I "slept in" as compared to most mornings!

Running in different places (like soccer complexes and greenways) also makes it fun too. Picking a new spot, planning on when to run there, and then anticipating it makes it easier to keep that exercise appointment. I mentioned it in this post about walking and then running at Umstead State Park, which really reminds me that I need to go back again!