Five Things Running Taught Me About Change

Recently I made a fairly common resolution among middle-aged men. I decided to get back into shape.

Five Things I Learned about Change

Photo Credit: kaneda99 via Compfight cc

I know what you’re thinking. “That good-lookin’ fella at the top of my screen is out of shape?!”

Well, thanks! But, yes…yes I am.

So, I decided to start running.

Why did I (finally) make that decision? Well, it’s because of some awesome advice I received.

Not too long ago I shared 10 life lessons from a friend of mine. And, while I found them all to be valuable (You can read them here.), I decided to really focus on one of them: “get mentally and physically fit,” with an emphasis on physically fit.

You see my back side and the couch have become quite fond of each other lately, and frankly, I think they were getting a little too cozy. So, I figured they needed to spend some time apart.

Let me be clear. I do NOT like to run. But that advice (and my tight pants) served as a reminder of what I already knew – It was time to make a change. So…

Man, that first run was tough, really tough. I only made it 0.95 miles. That’s right…I couldn’t make the last 0.05! But, hey, I ran…and as I kept running, things got better.

2nd run: 1.4 miles

3rd run: 1.65 miles

4th run: 2 miles!

Fast forward to my 7th run…just 13 days later: 9 miles! 9 miles!! I know, right? I couldn’t believe it either!

In fact, when I was done, I was equally shocked and excited. I mean, running nine miles would have seemed impossible to me just two weeks earlier. In fact, the thought never even crossed my mind.

I really did surprise myself. And by doing so, I learned a great deal about change. And, those things are really what I want to share with you…

…because pretty much everyone wants to change something.  – I want to get in shape. I want to stop gossiping. I want to control my temper. I want to read more. I want to eat healthier. You name it.

So, here are 5 things running taught me about making a change.

1. Commit to the moment: Those first few runs were hard, but I was committed to doing the best I could each time I ran. I didn’t think about my run the day before or how sore I might be the following day. I just wanted to do the best I could to make each day count. Change often occurs one step at a time, not all at once.

2. Withstand the urge to compare yourself to others. Funny thing…as soon as I decided to start running, I seemed to see running stickers on every single car I drove behind…you know, those stickers with 5K, 10K, 13.1, or 26.2 on them. Me? I was gasping for breath in my attempt to get to just one mile! Sometimes I let those stickers tell me that I could never run like that person, so why even get started? But that was unhealthy. This adventure was about me and what I could accomplish. Focus on you.

3. Celebrate wins no matter how small. Even after that first short run, I celebrated. It was more than I had run the previous day, week, year…three years! You see, you can’t run two miles before you run one. So, celebrate your successes. It will fuel you towards the next win.

4. Find an encourager. My wife has been mine. She helped me celebrate those small wins, and reminded me of them when running seemed too hard. She kept me focused on how far I’d come and showered me with encouraging words to keep going. If you want to make a significant change, you need an encourager.

5. Press on. Do you know how many times I wanted to quit running that Saturday before I got to nine miles? A lot…like when it started raining…I think it was around the three mile mark. In fact, I was mere seconds from quitting. But then it hit me that the rain was just an excuse, an out. I reminded myself that there was always going to be a reason not to run. If I was going to change, if I was really going to get physically fit, I had to ignore those excuses and press on. There will be days you want to give up and there will be plenty of excuses to justify it. Keep going.

These are the things that helped me those 13 days, and, since then, I’ve managed to keep it up. I feel great and I’ve even started to like running! And, it all started with a two-week commitment….just two weeks.

So, what about you? What change is on your mind? Though it might seem impossible, commit, wholeheartedly, for just two weeks. You might just be surprised by the results. I was. It might be the jump start you need for something great! And, if I can do, trust me, so can you.

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