On How One Lunch Hour Changed My Life
The new year is a time when a lot of us think about ways that we can make fitness more of a priority in life. In this blog post I will talk about how one lunch hour changed my life and helped me make fitness a priority.
My new years day run!
My New Year's Day run! If you had told me 3 years ago that I would have been pumped to run 10K on New Year's Day, I would not have believed you.
How I got my first taste of running
One chilly day in September, 2015, a friend and co-worker (Balkar) convinced me to go running with him a over a lunch hour. This lunch hour run kickstarted what has become my addiction to running as my drug of choice.
That first lunch hour run was hard! My body was crying out for me to stop. My heart rate increased, my breathing was strained and what can sometimes be the most powerful force of all - my mind - was telling me that I couldn’t do it and I was crazy for trying. Having Balkar out there with me for my first run made a huge difference. His encouraging words helped keep me going.
Below are a few pictures from a recent lunch hour run that Balkar and I went on in Edmonton's river valley. Having the best running spot in Canada in my backyard is pretty great!
Since that first lunch hour run, there have been many more. I have participated in twelve races, seven of which were a half marathon distance (21.1 kilometers or 13.1 miles). I was never athletic growing up and didn't participate in sports, so this has really been my first experience in a competitive sport environment. I often read stories about people who started running in grade school and have been doing so ever since. This is definitely not the case for me.
Sometimes I still feel like I am dying when I am running.
The lead up
Prior to this lunch hour run, I had been restricting my calories and using a stationary bike to assist with my weight loss goals. I had a stationary bike at home which was good, since I was not yet in a place where I was comfortable enough with my body image to exercise at the gym or outside.
Before and After - I still use a stationary bike for cross training
Starting out with a low impact exercise of using a stationary bike and transitioning into running worked out really well for me. Since I had already lost some weight before really getting into running, I was able to minimize my risk of injury and enjoy the benefits of a cardio base I had built up by using the stationary bike.
The Many Benefits of a Run at Any Time of Day
This first lunch hour run has been followed by many more. Going for a run at lunch, or at any time of the day has a number of amazing benefits:
It’s a great way to meet fitness and weight loss goals
Helps to manage stress
Provides a big boost of energy
It’s a great excuse to get out and explore nature
The runner's high is real!
Before I made a decision to change my lifestyle, if I was having a stressful day at the office, at home, or generally feeling down, I would go out to lunch and eat something really unhealthy or have a few beers after work. I would spend the rest of the day or evening feeling tired and low on energy.
I am still a big fan of burgers and fries but not for stress management
Now, I go for a hard run, take out my stress on the pavement and spend the rest of the day feeling energized and ready to take on new challenges! This change in perspective and behavior has driven me to lead life to the fullest and built confidence in other areas of my life as well.
Of course, running was also a great help is my journey towards losing half my body weight (125 pounds). Cardio of any kind is a great way to burn calories and while the amount of calories burned will vary by your height and weight, most people burn about 100 calories for every mile they run.
Consistency is Key
Running is mostly definity my drug of choice. But any exercise has the potential to help you meet health and fitness goals. The key is finding something that you do consistently. Go for a walk, do some jumping jacks, lifting weight or going for a bike ride are just a few examples of activities that will get your heart pumping.
If running is something that interests you, there are some amazing resources online to help you get started. These were some that I found really helpful when I was first getting started:
A great website for learning more about running and how to start - https://www.runnersworld.com/the-starting-line/start-running
A website that helps you figure out how to dress right for your outdoor run - https://www.runnersworld.com/what-to-wear
If you are interested in starting running, Couch to 5k is a great training plan to get started -https://www.active.com/mobile/couch-to-5k-app