“I could never do a marathon or half-marathon.”
“So proud of you, Sarah, that’s awesome! But, I could never do it.”
“How did you get started? I know I can’t jog or finish a half-marathon, but I’d like to get in better shape.”
Since I posted about my half-marathon experience, I’ve read these statements – and ones very similar – quite a few times. I’ve received emails, Facebook posts, and texts asking the magic question: “How did you do it?” This question was usually followed by some type of “I can’t do it” statement.
I remember watching the Biggest Loser, hearing stories of those who went from fat to fit, and thinking that will never be me. So, when I read these statements, my heart breaks a little, knowing how I used to feel – and still feel sometimes.
If that’s you – someone who wants to get started, but feels like it’s impossible – try to begin with these three things: a support person/people, motivation, and courage.
Support person: In June my friend, Ashley, invited me to boot camp. I only lasted a month, but that experience made me think I was a bit more capable than I thought I was. Ashley texted me three or four times a week (still does), asking me how I was, if I wanted to exercise, etc. Her persistence and faith in me kept me going often.
I also have an amazing husband. Through weight loss and weight gain, my husband, Steve, has never pressured me to lose weight or commented on my weight (smart man, huh?:) Each time I’ve embarked on a new weight loss journey, he’s been beside me, encouraging, supporting, eating what I eat, etc. He picks up slack, so I can work out. He also surprised me at the finish of the half-marathon. In fact, this journey has brought us closer together.
You may not have an Ashley or a Steve in your life. But, look around – someone is willing to help. I am willing to help. I am participating in two races with friends who want to get fit starting yesterday. I’d be happy to race with you, too!
You should also pray for a support person; I prayed for almost a year for an accountability person. Then, I got three! A fitness coach and two spiritual accountability partners.
Motivation: Something has to motivate your lifestyle change. It’s what gets you out of bed in the morning. My motivation is spiritual; I feel God made me for more and wants to do work through me that I cannot do in poor physical condition. I don’t know what that work is, how, or when, but I know He called me on this journey. (You can read about my motivation here and here.)
Courage: This morning I was reading through some blog posts and found this one: One Thing You Must Have to Get Fit. I thought…time, motivation, support people, etc. I never considered the “one thing” this blog post suggested: courage.
“Without courage, there are no new habits.” That quote stuck with me as I read. You have to have courage to start, continue, repeat, share, and possibly fail. You have to be OK with saying one day, “I am going to do this. I may weigh 230 pounds now, but I will complete a half-marathon someday.”
Then, you move. You start by walking. When I did, I couldn’t go very far. It was very discouraging. But, I just kept going every day. Some days I’d think…I feel good…I’ll go a little further, and I did.
I record all my exercise on Map my Walk; it’s an app for any type of phone. There’s also Map my Run. Same thing. You turn on your phone’s GPS, push play, and it tells you how far, how fast, etc. It keeps track of your exercise, so you can see accomplishment and progress.
Finding a plan to follow is also important if (like me) you have no clue about anything athletic:) I Googled “how to train for a half-marathon” and “half marathon training”; that’s where I got my plan. My plan wasn’t the best choice for a few reasons, but a friend recommended Jeff Galloway’s half-marathon training plan. It’s the one I am using in preparation for my next half in December.
Interval training is helpful as well – walk three minutes, jog one minute. I am still terrible at jogging. During the Columbus half, I jogged about 30 minutes of the three hours…on and off. I’d jog at the half-mile mark and mile mark – that’s it. Just start moving…don’t worry if you can’t run:)
Then, find a half-marathon (or 5K or 10K) and register. Check out the half-marathon calendar or the River City Runners (if you live in the Mid-Ohio Valley) to find a race. Being registered gives you a goal – and a deadline.
All of these resources were essential to my finish in Columbus: courage, motivation, people, apps, and training plans. But, above all these, God carried me. I can’t adequately articulate how I felt His presence. I knew/know He is with me on this journey. I know this journey would be impossible without Him. In my weakness, He is strong.
So, while I look forward to helping each of you begin this journey, I also pray you turn to Him. Here are a few verses I’ve committed memory. I often repeat them when I begin to think I can’t do it – I can’t finish.
“Be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of age.” Matthew 28:20
“I tell you the truth, if you had faith even as small as the mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, “Move from here to there,” and it would move. Nothing would be impossible.” Matthew 17:20
Before you can finish, you have to start. One step, one seed – that’s all it takes.
Praying for each of you:)