By Star Staubach—I wish I could tell you that I was inspired to run because of fitness, vanity or even the thought of feeling good. Instead, I was inspired to run through dissonance.
I was waking morning after morning with anger, irritation and resentment. Between 4 and 6 a.m., my two young daughters would wander into my bed and I would not be able to get back to sleep. Uncomfortably crowded and irritated by my own lack of sleep, one morning it hit me.
In that moment I talked myself through the experience, “Star, this is reality. You’ve been awake for over an hour. You’re not going back to sleep. You have two choices: continue complaining, or get up and choose to see this situation differently.”
That morning, I chose to get up and strap on my running shoes. This was my first run in years. I felt like a rock star. As I felt my body working, I started feeling more alive. Before I knew it, I had run for almost three miles. I was shouting to anyone who crossed my path, “I’m running! I haven’t run in years!” The lady at the bus stop must have thought I was crazy.
I used to think runners were crazy. Why else would someone be running in extreme conditions through snow, rain and freezing cold weather?
That was 10 months ago. Fast forward to today and I have run a 5K and a half marathon. I am running 15-plus miles in one stretch. I am training to run a marathon at the beginning of May.
Twelve months ago, if you would have told me that I would be a runner, I would have laughed in your face and told you that you were crazy.
How did I get here and more importantly, how can you get here? How can you transform from living the pain of blah to the bliss of exercise? Follow these tips to start running and you’ll be running with me in no time.
1. Allow the current situation and pain to speak to you.
When you feel that space of agitation, ask yourself, “How could I be experiencing this differently?”
2. Learn the facts about exercise and the way it can enhance your life.
It was shortly after that initial run that I was introduced to the work of Dr. John Ratey. Everything I was experiencing started making sense. I was feeling more confident, clear, focused and creative. Exercise, running in particular, has amazing impacts on the brain. It not only opens up neural pathways, it grows new ones. What does this mean? It means that I am able to focus on challenging tasks; the demands of my young children, growing business and the busyness of life. It also means that I am able to retrieve and learn new information.
3. Get the proper equipment for running.
About one month into my new found appreciation for running, I started experiencing knee pain. I had been running with 5-plus-year-old cross-training shoes. My local running store was great in setting me up with a shoe that was right for my foot and my run. The results were immediate.
4. Get peer support!
I had been running off/on for about a few months when I discovered a neighbor who was running regularly. She was training for a half-marathon, which I initially thought was well beyond my ability. After running with her a few times, I started to see my own potential! On one particular morning, I missed her and decided to run anyway. I ran 4 miles that morning, the most I had run on my own since starting. That solo run gave me confidence that I can push myself beyond my own comfort zone.
Prior to that, I had the belief that I needed others to motivate and inspire me. With that said, peers do motivate and inspire, so set yourself up for success by finding and committing to a running buddy. The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) highlights that a buddy can make your workouts more enjoyable.
5. Follow a plan/schedule.
Several of my neighbors and friends are using the popular “Couch to 5K Running Program”, supporting new runners to go from the couch to running 5 kilometers (3.2 miles.) My local running store hosts information sessions for the training programs that they sponsor. They have schedules to support you to run or walk a 5K, half or full marathon.
6. Record your success.
Once I started running, I enjoyed seeing my own limits being pushed and the accomplishment of improving times and distance. Initially I ran for distance, encouraging myself to go for endurance, but in the process I was also able to improve my speed. There are a variety of ways to record your running statistics: downloadable smart phone apps and other running devices to track calories burned, distance and duration.
7. Register and BELIEVE in yourself!
Want to commit? Find out what races take place in your area and sign up to participate. The fun in running is growing.
8. Commit to yourself and DO IT!
Remember your motivation for running. For me, it was clear that I was not running to accomplish a certain dress size or weight loss. I was running because it felt good. Weight loss and a sleeker body were an awesome bonus.
I didn’t start running because I had to or because I should. I ran because it made me feel good. I feel more alive, radiant, sexy, sassy, creative and playful (admittedly, I’m exhausted after a long run). I also notice feeling more patient with my children, greater success with my business and an increase in my organization skills.
So follow these tips to start running, strap on your sneakers (not your old ones—learn from my pain) and I’ll see you out there!
This story originally appeared on Inspiyr.com.