Guest Blog: How I stopped making excuses
Since I started this blog I've had several people I know come to me talking about how they would love to run 5km or complete a half or even be able to run one kilometre. My response to all of them is generally the same - you can do it.
One colleague, who shall remain nameless, even rang me in tears one time after she completed her first five kilometre run. I was like a proud parent as I congratulated her down the phone.
Another colleague came to me wanting advice on running her first marathon later this year. We're now going to train together.
Which brings me to Beck Eleven - who Press readers may know as one of the paper's feature writers and Saturday columnists.
I could invent endless justifications for why I'd stopped running, actually for why I'd stopped exercising altogether.
They were fairly reasonable in the beginning, I thought. An earthquake wrecked all my routines, my little community of exercising friends no longer lived nearby, I was moving from house-sit to house-sit, I was drinking more, I got depressed, I started smoking again.
The excuses grew feebler, as did I.
My new running shoes gave me blisters, my old running shoes were too thin on the sole. I pledged to start running again once I lost a bit of weight, once I had a permanent place to live, once I had headphones engineered specifically for running, an iPod and an armband.
Aaagh. In the end, when it comes to running, it's just you and the footpath/treadmill/mountain trail. One foot after the other, one lamp post at a time.
The best tip I ever saw was in Kerre Woodham's book Short Fat Chick to Marathon Runner. She said the hardest part of running was putting your shoes on. It's so true!
A great story would be that I hit the road one day and never looked back but the truth is a litany of fits and starts. However, I've finally made it from couch potato to street potato. I'm slow, in fact sometimes it feels like I'm jogging on the spot but I can now go for five kilometres without stopping.
There were a couple of months of extremely false starts and because running was so infrequent, I never made progress. Then January arrived, I downloaded a '10km to couch' app on my smartphone and found that walking five minutes and jogging for two minutes made it more enjoyable. Bite-sized running chunks are far more palatable.
I tried two other apps, Map My Run and Run Keeper. I prefer Run Keeper because a very calm lady's voice comes through my headphones to tell me when five minutes is up, how far I've run in that time and how fast I am going each kilometre.
The first time I managed 5km without stopping, I was so proud. Now I have a set route, a loop from my front door. It's my own mini-mini marathon.
I plan to spend a few more weeks gaining confidence and trying to improve my pace then I will go through the old walk-jog routine to add another kilometre or two.
I've signed up for 10km of the Christchurch Marathon in June and I certainly won't be fast but I'll complete it.
I've lost 4kg which has made it easier and I have more energy. I'm still not convinced running is my thing but it's got me exercising again and has inspired me to mix things up.
The fitter I feel, the more confident I am to try other things. I've found a Pump class at a council gym that suits my timetable, I'll go walking with a friend whenever we can coordinate our diaries, I cycle beside my boyfriend when he's running (although I can barely keep up) and I tried a dance class the other night called No Lights No Lycra.
I even went swimming one chilly evening when my back was sore. I bought a Swiss Ball and found a whole world of abdominal routines on YouTube to follow too.
I'm still not as fit as I was pre-quake but I'm not letting the insect on my evil shoulder talk louder than the one on my good shoulder.
Every workout is an improvement. Every milligram of fitness that I can add makes it more enjoyable and the more enjoyable I find exercising, the more things I want to try. I just have to dig deep and lace up my running shoes.
Have you been in a fitness slump? What caused it and how did you claw your way back? What is your inspiration? Plus I'd love some ideas for other activities so leave your suggestions here.
Comment below, e-mail me on firstname.lastname@example.org or follow me on Twitter @YoungRachelS or e-mail guest blogger email@example.com or follow her on Twitter @beckeleven