2.2 New Exercise Challenge: Running

When I run in my neighborhood, this is the view in the final stretch. 

When I run in my neighborhood, this is the view in the final stretch. 

While I've been doing some sort of running for much of the life of this blog (including a 15K last December!), lately I've been walking and hiking instead. Which is fine, except that I've also been regaining a few (15?) of the pounds I lost last year.

The main difference in my lifestyle is the lack of running. I'm still tracking my calories, eating like I usually do (sometimes good, sometimes awful), not drinking any more or less - and when I'm running, it doesn't seem to matter. I was slowly losing weight and keeping it off. But when I'm not running? The other things I'm doing aren't enough. 

My first goal with taking up running again is to stop gaining and hopefully start losing again. While I lost enough weight to get myself out the "obese" category and back into merely "overweight," I was nowhere near my goal weight. 

My second goal with this running program is to learn how to have a sustainable running program. Here's what usually happens: I decide to start running. I think 30 minutes three times a week would be great, and I work up to that. Then I decide to I want to run a race or go faster, so I start making my workouts longer and/or more difficult. Then I decide I need a longer race, and I add more running days. Maybe I make it to my race, or improve my speed, or get the fourth or fifth day of running in, or maybe I don't. But no matter what, running becomes much more difficult, isn't any fun anymore, and I stop doing it. 

This time, I want to keep my routine at a maintenance level, something that's not too difficult, not too challenging, and see if I can't make it stick that way. Maybe I should start calling it a "jogging program," so I don't think I'm doing anything all that great. Just jogging. 

My Current Routine

I'm in my third week of resuming running, which means that I'm running two minutes, walking one, for twenty minutes, then walking ten minutes after that. The first week I ran one, walked two, then I did one and one. Each "week" is really three exercise sessions, however it works out. I think week two lasted a little over a week, but week three is moving along quickly. I'm trying to not pay too much attention to it, other than to make sure I get out there every other day or so. 

The Challenge of Making Habits

If I learned nothing else in doing a year of week-long challenges, it was that making anything into a habit is a LOT more difficult than making it happen for seven days. 

Not that there's no value in trying something for a week, because there is. I did things I didn't think I could do, knowing I only had to keep it up for a week. A week can make breaking down longer tasks much easier, such as decluttering a house, because it forces you to look at the parts, rather than the whole. A week is good for trying something out, not knowing how you'll take to it. 

But building a habit is something different, and it's something I want to focus on with this second year of challenges.

Every time the category of exercise comes around, I'm going to decide what to do based on how my three-times-a-week, 30-minute running routine is going. If I'm doing that, then great - I'll keep it up. I might challenge myself to do my runs in different locations, or something fun along those lines, but I won't increase the intensity or time, and I'm not signing up for any races.

If I'm not doing it, or doing more, then I'm going to challenge myself to get back to it, whether that means starting or resuming, or dialing it back. 

Which makes this a....

Year-Long Challenge

My first exercise challenge of the second year kicks off a year-long challenge of maintaining a a small,  not-too-tough running routine. I'm pretty sure I've had years in the past when I ran all year, but most years, I run for a while then quit completely. I want to see if I can make it last for the next twelve months. 

I might try this with other challenge categories, too. Meditation came to mind right away as something that I'd like to find a way to make a habit. But for now, I'm going to focus on running and not get too far ahead of myself. :) 

Do you have anything you've tried, or done in the past, that you struggle with making a habit? Or have you succeeded? Do you have any advice on how to keep a habit going? I'd love to hear it!

Week 2.2 Exercise - Running