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Six Tips for Getting off The Couch and into Shape

by Lisa H.

If you have been on the site recently, you would see that Getting to Zen’s design is undergoing changes as it transitions from a pure personal development blog to a personal development/healthy living blog. :-)

I don’t mean to give you whiplash with the back and forth of my changes (more are to come), but I don’t have a tech person and am making the changes myself through trial and error.

And so in honor of the direction of the blog, I thought I would post an article about getting in shape; because that is where running starts.

Keep on keeping on

Getting in shape is the process of adapting to physiological and mental stress. When you first start running, expect to be sore in places that you did not know you could be sore in. It is not supposed to feel good for the first several weeks. Too many people feel the aches and pains of getting in shape, think something is wrong or it is too hard and give up.

They give up before they breakthrough to the next fitness level. Based on the thinking that there are different levels of getting in shape, the first is to get the blood flowing and the body used to moving. The first day of exercise after a planned or unplanned break due to injury can be quite uncomfortable, but after a few weeks or less, your body will adapt and running will become more comfortable.

Train the brain

Not only are you training your body to run, you are also training your mind to endure the discomfort that can come with running. For example, have you ever noticed that the first run after a lengthy break always seems to take forever, no matter how far it is.

It is funny how things work that way–that a 4 mile run when I am out of shape can feel like it takes longer than a 10 mile run when I am in shape.

Set a goal

Having a goal will make it easier for you to lace up your shoes and head out the door. Your goal can be anything from completing your first 5k or marathon to setting a personal best. Or maybe it is a weight goal that you want to achieve. It doesn’t matter, the point here is to set a goal to keep you going. You may even want to join a group to keep your motivation up or bring your ipod along so that you are not just listening to the voices in your head.

Follow a schedule

Knowing what you need to do the next day to accomplish your goal, helps in the realization of it. I am a big proponent of following a schedule to achieve a goal. There are many running programs on the internet (I will go into these in more in another article) for distances from the 5k to the marathon, but I prefer books.

I used Advanced Marathoning by Scott Douglass and Peter Pfitzinger to take me to a 2:43:59 marathon. My current schedule is from Run Faster from the 5K to the Marathon: How to Be Your Own Best Coach by Brad Hudson and Matt Fitzgerald. Note: I will be reviewing this books in a later post.

Give yourself a pep talk

The thought of giving yourself a pep-talk may sound silly, but it is not. Sometimes we are the only ones around to encourage ourselves. For example, I went out for a four mile run this morning, felt like stopping after the first mile and pep-talked myself through the other three. On days like this, it is hard to imagine that I have run the last mile of a marathon faster than the first 800 meters of this run. Aaaaaaaahhhh, the joys of getting in shape.

Reward yourself

Do something nice for yourself at the end of the run. Get a massage, take an ice-bath, stretch, relax, curl up with a good book, enjoy your family. In the summer, I will often look forward to a homemade ice-cold smoothie chocked full of blueberries, bananas, orange juice; Sometimes I will add flax seeds, whey protein or a veggie green powder to give me an extra boost. But, if you want to go with ice-cream, that’s fine too–sometimes I do that.

Getting in shape is a process and should be looked at that way. It is not something that happens over night. What you put into it, you will directly get out if.

Have a happy run.

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