A common topic on the blog has always been self care, in whatever form it may take. Whether it’s as simple as making a cup of coffee and drinking it while it’s still hot, pouring a glass of wine, getting out with some friends, or finding time for exercise. Whatever it is, if it makes you happy, it’s about finding some time when you can refresh and recharge a little. And let’s face it: exercise comes under self care, but isn’t usually one of the more fun options; it tends to be one we put off, cast aside, make excuses for (‘not enough time’). Sound familiar?
Total confession: that was me about a year ago. And that’s why I wanted to share about my fitness journey and the lead- up to the Sun Run last month. Because if I can stop making excuses- and believe me I had plenty plus many pity parties to add to the mix- I believe anyone can, you just have to start. Growing up I was a competitive swimmer. I loved it, I felt at home in the water (still do) and I’ve never been in such good shape before or since. As an adult, my fitness regime had been none existent until this past year- especially these last eight and a half months- since I’ve finally stopped making excuses and ‘not having time’. And running became a big part of my weekly efforts. But let me be straight up honest with you: I used to hate running.
The idea of it used to be boring to me; swimming checked all the fitness boxes for me and was a throwback to my competitive days. Every time I got in the pool I just slipped back into my old technique- sort of like getting back on a bike after not riding one for a while- and channeled my inner athlete, the one who quit in high school but never lost her passion. Swimming is something I take pride in; I’m good at it, and I feel like I’m tapping into a part of me from years ago when I get in the water. It feels good and is still one of my favourite forms of exercise- so why add running into the mix when I already felt like I had a a full schedule? Especially when it wasn’t something I particularly enjoyed?
Simple: it was something I could fit into my life a little easier than swimming, and if I was disciplined enough, could fit in at the end of a work day while my Mum watched the kids. I didn’t start running with any goals in mind except to not be a complete wheezing mess after jogging for five minutes; my standards were pretty low and I just decided to challenge myself more and more as I felt my strength and endurance improve. Like anything, when it makes you feel good, you want more, and running converted me from a hater to someone who’s made it a welcome inclusion of her weekly routine. So now you can kind of see how we got from ‘I just want to run for 5 minutes without passing out’ to the 10k Sun Run…
When I was in high school, a year after I quit swimming, I participated in the Sun Run for the first time. It was one of those ‘why not’ kind of things and I did it just for the hell of it. Fast forward more than a decade and I saw the Sun Run ad online one night as I was finishing up work. And again I thought ‘why not?’. I’ve been running weekly since the end of last Summer and thought this could be a great milestone to see how far I’ve come since huffing and puffing through a 15 minute jog around the block to running 8k+ each week. I messaged my friend Janette, hooked her into my scheme, and with a few clicks we were training for the Sun Run.
It was an interesting change in perspective- suddenly shifting from ‘running for the hell of it’ to running with a goal in mind- but it was a welcome one, one that had me pushing myself and loving the results. Thanks to Janette spreading the word about signing up, we enjoyed some help keeping our bodies well fuelled from Whole Cuisine with their healthy meals delivered right to our doors every week. There were several occasions throughout the weeks leading up to the Sun Run where I grabbed one their meals to eat on the go, grateful that I had something ready to eat that was healthy and that I didn’t have to think ahead about. The time it takes to prep healthy food is another excuse for many of us when it comes to our eating choices and this helped keep me in check on more than one occasion.
On that note- something else that I smile about when I think back over the last year: I went from having virtually no exercise apparel to having a few options to choose from. One more hint that I’ve made progress in the past few months. There are plenty of great local brands to choose from here in the Vancouver area and thanks to The Sweet Life Apparel and Inner Fire, I trained in comfort and style. My ‘Coffee, Cardio, Cake’ tank has been well worn and loved, and has become one of my favourite workout tops. Comfortable and cheeky. Sign me up. 😉 And when it comes to bottoms I have this to say: the leggings from Inner Fire are some of the most comfortable I own with the added bonus of being made by a company that gives back (a portion of the proceeds are donated to The School Fund, an organization that helps youth in developing countries receive education scholarships). These leggings are available in full- length and capris, perfect for a variety of fitness needs. Whether you want to add to your fitness apparel wardrobe or just love their designs, you won’t go wrong with either of these two local companies.
Exercise- in whatever form you choose- isn’t about being an all- star athlete, putting hours aside each week, or having it take over your life (it can be those things you like, but that’s up to you and your goals and expectations). It’s about finding the time- making the time– and choosing to put yourself and your health first. Because sometimes we forget to do that and I had the reminder last year that I couldn’t forget about my own health, my own needs. My body sent some strong messages and I listened. I won’t sit here and tell you that it’s always easy to add something to your already busy life, that you’ll always look forward to exercising, or that you don’t have to make choices to fit it in. You do- but before too much time has passed, it will become routine- a part of your day- and you’ll notice the difference it makes and feel better for it. And yes, choosing to do some form of exercise means you’re probably compromising on something else, but it’s a choice you’ll start to appreciate as you notice the difference in how your body and mind feel. Even if it’s only a few minutes throughout the day; every little bit counts.
I know you’re busy- adulting keeps us on our toes whatever our work/ family/ life mix is- and I used to think if I couldn’t put an hour aside at a time that it wouldn’t make a difference. But I’ve learnt that like many things, exercise is as much about quality as it is about quantity. Can’t get to the gym more than once a week? Only have a handful of minutes? Don’t want to feel overwhelmed by setting another goal you may not achieve? No problem. Just make the time you have count. Even now I still know I have a long way to go, but to have this 10k under my belt, I feel like I’m well on my way to making a marked improvement in my health; no deadlines, no pressure, just the overall goal to continue to work on my health and well- being. There- that doesn’t sound so bad, does it? So unachievable?
I started running because I needed an outlet, a way to get back in touch with myself and improve my quality of life. Mentally and physically, it has made a significant difference. Running is my time to think, to clear my head, and just be. I pop in my earbuds and go. I don’t set off on each run with a specific time in mind, I listen to my body and go from there. Some days I push myself harder than others, and other days I allow a little slack. Either way, I feel better for putting time aside for it. It isn’t about comparing myself to others- while running the Sun Run I had to stop trying to pace myself with people going faster than me and slow down and walk a few times (tough for my competitive streak!)- but it was a personal best for me and I’m still riding off that high. I set a goal to run it within a certain time and hit it. And that’s what the whole point of this post is about: what is a goal you have for yourself? Start with five minutes and go from there, see where it takes you. I dare you. 😉
To read about Janette’s journey to the Sun Run (her first!)- click here
Sun Run Scrapbook
Thank you to Whole Cuisine for keeping me well nourished leading up to the Sun Run!
Finishing stats- now what’s next year’s goal? 😉
Finish line victory photos with this amazing gal (find Janette at Ava to Zoe)
Meeting 2 of the founders of the Sun Run: Canadian Olympians Dr. Doug and Diane Clement
Thank you to everyone who helped me on this journey:
Running photos- Akane Kondo Photography
Screenshot- Janette Shearer, Ava to Zoe
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.