Written by Beth Herman
Winter will not give us a break! Noses that drip and stuffed up ears. Fevers that reach 102 degrees, and pink eye that requires two prescriptions and three weeks to relent. An impassable driveway. Temperatures below 40 degrees three weeks in a row. Snow, snow and more snow. But the most annoying thing about this endless winter? The hash it’s made of my running schedule.
I’m an unimpressive runner. Very slow, I stop to use the bathroom every 20 – 30 minutes, get lapped by runners younger and fitter, and passed by those larger and older. I’m not winning medals or breaking any records.But so what! Running makes me feel like a rock star; strong and lean, and I drop it into conversation every chance I get.
Quite simply, I am in love with running. Thrilled with my increased energy level, I adore the couple of uninterrupted hours it gives my husband and me to talk every other morning. Most importantly, running has kept me fit without the stress of dieting, which is not easy at 51 years old.
What this involves is a shift of perspective. Instead of obsessing about what that brownie, cupcake or extra helping of mashed potatoes will add on the scale, think instead of how what you eat affects your workouts. You don’t have to run marathons. Walking, Nia, or tennis will do. Thinking of yourself as an athlete, your food choices are filtered through that lens. I want those cookies but I am not supposed to have them, becomes, I need to eat some turkey to properly fuel myself for my workout in an hour.
Negativity and denial, dangerous issues when it comes to weight, are removed from the equation. Here are some ideas:
1) Allow yourself to fall in love; cultivate an interest in walking, running, yoga, or nia. Read everything you can on the activity, as if you were preparing to learn knitting, Spanish cooking or bird watching.
2) It’s never too late to start. I didn’t begin running until my mid forties.
3) Take ego, appearance and weight out of it. Thoughts like, “I have to do this because it will help me to lose weight,” are negative. Do your regular workout as a result of your commitment to the activity.
4) Begin with baby steps: I started out running up and down my driveway, now I can go up to 90 minutes at a time.
5) Find a mentor. People enjoy helping others pursue a shared passion. My guru was a single woman 21 years my junior. An accomplished runner who had run every U.S. marathon at least twice, she came to my neighborhood once a week, keeping me laughing and distracted as we hauled up the hills of my development. She lives in Europe now with her husband and new baby.These days when we get together it’s over a meal and a glass of wine- and I don’t even count the calories!
In addition to being a runner, Beth Herman is an artist and essayist.