Incentive to Get Started

One of our primary reasons for writing our column is to encourage everybody to maintain a regular exercise program.

Regular aerobic exercise is one of the best things you can ever do for yourself. It doesn’t matter if you’re a walker, jogger, in-line skater, marathon runner, or swimmer. Believe it or not, we wouldn’t even mind if you’re a cyclist. The point is to pick an activity, and get out there and do it!

Of course, the two of us are partial to running, and we’re determined to find a way to get new people to join us. That’s why we describe the joy that running provides, and the excitement we feel when racing. We talk about the camaraderie we find from our fellow runners, and how being runners influences the way we see the world.

But if all of that doesn’t work … we’re not above resorting to bribery.

Luckily, we have like-minded allies who want to help you get started. Our friends Walt and Robin Dambkowski at Fleet Feet in Del Monte Center (near Whole Foods Market) are extending a generous offer to new runners. Between now and August 15th, if you go to their store and mention our Running Life column, they will give you a 25% discount on your first pair of shoes.

Fleet Feet specializes in finding the right shoes for new runners. Their staff can help you get a perfect fit on a pair of walking or running shoes, and they can also help you select running-specific clothing and other gear to help you get started.

Buying the gear is the easy part. Starting a new running program can be a bit tougher. But don’t be intimidated by the notion of becoming a runner. Everybody has to start somewhere.

The most important thing is to be determined. Make up your mind that you will succeed, and then go about the process of improvement.

Here are some tips to help you get started:

Schedule your workout time. If it’s difficult to find time for running, make an appointment with yourself just as you would an important meeting at work. The specific time of day doesn’t matter. Try for three “appointments” per week. For newcomers, anything between 5 and 30 minutes of running is plenty.

Don’t think of it as a “program” or “project”. Exercise should just be something you do. Don’t worry about running a specific distance or feel pressure to enter a race. Feel good about whatever you are able to do, and make a commitment to continue.

Create a habit. The discipline to stick with a schedule and alter your activity habits is extremely important, but sometimes it takes a while to develop. It’s natural to experience some difficulty during the first month or so, but then it becomes gradually easier. So give yourself some time and don’t expect miracles overnight. Remember – you’re seeking long-term results.

Find a friend. One of the key factors in maintaining any exercise program is having someone to exercise with. It can be your spouse, your child, a work acquaintance, or some random stranger you meet at a group run. Having an exercise partner makes you accountable, and helps pass the time during workouts. Best of all, before too long, that relative stranger may become a good friend.

Have fun! Running shouldn’t be drudgery. Training time is playtime. Think of it as recess from your daily grind.

Dr. George Sheehan was a modern-day running philosopher who once wrote: “Heed the inner calling to your own play … you can reawaken the passion, relive the dream, and recapture your youth.” We feel exactly the same way - running makes us feel like kids on a playground, every single day.

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So … NOW do you think you can start running?

We know it can be difficult to get started. Sometimes it takes a push. In that regard, you may consider this column a great big shove from the two of us. As far as enticements go, we don’t think we can do much better.

Dr. Sheehan also wrote, “My fitness program was a campaign, a revolution, a conversion. I was determined to find myself. In the process, I found my body and the soul that went with it.” We want our readers to find themselves in the same way.

So go to Fleet Feet at Del Monte Center and buy a pair of discounted shoes. Then start making fitness and exercise a priority in your life. And if you need any advice along the way, feel free to contact us at anytime.

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