Y’all, we’re not 16 anymore. I know- two-a-day’s at football, soccer, or field hockey practice don’t seem like that long ago. But they were. We’re now twenty-something’s. Our muscles are literally twenty years old. Like the chipped wood paneling in the bathroom. Like…wait. Most things don’t live or last that long.
We need to stretch. Running a block= stretching for at least 10 minutes. Don’t let your pride trick you! Not stretching will make it hard to walk. You will be embarrassed as your father springs up the stairs and you’re still at the bottom. You will hurt sitting down, anywhere. Then you will be too sore to exercise the next day.
Use stretching as your “you” time. Be happy you just exercised; be happy you’re done. The only way to touch our toes in ten years is touching them every day until then. Or say you’re jogging, shamelessly out of breath, and kids on bikes are approaching. Inevitably…they will pass you. They will hear your wheezing. But wait! There’s a tree to save you. You pause, stretching your calves on the friendly bark. Your breathing slows. They pass, smiling and wave. “She’s so cool,” they’re thinking. “I want to jog like her when I graduate middle school.” Stretching just saved you. Become best friends with stretching.
2. Get “Couch to 5K” Immediately
You think running is only for super athletic people. Jumping gazelles who have never counted calories in their lives. It’s not true. Your ankles are just as good, your calves just as ready to be formed. A few months ago, I could barely jog a mile. I admit it. In college, we barely sleep; we only have time for fast food; our livers are under attack. I simply had no time to learn to run.
I don’t endorse many things- but Couch to 5K- an app on my iPhone- turned me into a jogger. I had been trying for years. It just never worked. I would give up, discouraged because it always seemed too hard. Even in high school- I played defense on the Field Hockey team because I was a slow runner. It didn’t matter then- my hip checks and not fearing bruises/ broken bones were enough to get the job done. Swim team? Pshh, we don’t run.
But with C25K- I can jog for miles. I am slow, yes, but who cares? My jeans from high school are fitting. I could now effectively run away from a bad guy, God forbid. Now I can jog for the rest of my life. It’s the best exercise because you can do it anywhere. Marathons are still far away- but healthy is happy. Toning exercises and gyms are great-but jogging works miracles.
Get shoes that fit, follow the program! It seems silly at first- walk, walk, walk- jog for five seconds- but pace yourself! It’s only 3 days a week, don’t skip ahead! Soon, you will see you can jog longer without feeling like death. Take notice of your breathing. I breathe in for 3 seconds, out for 4, which is harder than it seems. Go download it now. Totally free.
If you don’t have an iPhone- Google interval running apps. You should be able to find something.
3. Give Biking a Try
When I moved home, I invested in a nice, durable adult bike. Not that I don’t love my purple princess bike- but my legs are a bit longer, now. My parents and I discovered this beautiful bike trail, not far from our house. Soon we were out there almost every other day. Beginning bikers, don’t be discouraged! The local bike shops may seem snobby, if you’re not sure which bike you want or how to take it apart and put it back together, but ignore it. You don’t need the fancy bike clothes or aspirations to be in the Tour de France. Take it a day at a time; don’t get hit by a car.
Get to know your bike. Make sure the back break is not permanently on- making the first few weeks really difficult to ride. Your legs will be like steel- but you might cry a few times, as your parents fly past you on their beach cruisers, while you’re sweating on the bike you spent a paycheck on. Thank you, bike friend, for taking the invisible break off.
Do not wear baggy clothes, they might catch on the pedals and you will wreck; don’t try doing 12 miles immediately, you’ll have a hard time walking back to the car; when your seat is too high, stopping abruptly may cause you to fly forward onto the bar…and ladies, this still hurts.
Biking is great because it’s less impact on your joints. Since you’re jogging 3 times a week, give them a rest. Biking gets you outside to watch the seasons change. There’s a feeling of success covering so much ground in a short period of time. There’s a feeling of such freedom. Let the wind carry you away from all your problems. Take deep breaths; share the ride with friends and family. When you’re ready- move up to biking mountain trails. When you’re crazy, try riding with no hands. I will never be able to do this, but I’ve seen it done.
4. Don’t Underestimate Proper Clothes
It’s genius trying to exercise in the winter in a tank top. Wrong! It’s cold now. Maryland is not Florida. My jogging experience was 100% better with some ear warmers, running gloves, and $9 long pants from Wal-Mart. You may need a long sleeve shirt and jacket. You may need spandex or long johns. It might be 35 degrees. Don’t be a baby. You’ve got this. (I mean don’t go outside if it’s raining or snowing, I don’t suggest sickness…but yeah, suck it up.)
Your nose and cheeks will be rosier, but hey, your efforts are just more obvious. So my Florida people, don’t give me that crap. Boo hoo, it’s 55 degrees. Go outside.
Sometimes I would dread working out because I didn’t have the right clothes. Jogging was annoying because my pants would be falling down. Kickboxing was awkward jumping around in shorts. My shoes were too big; my sports bras were old or too small. Invest in yourself. If that means dropping a few bucks on the right clothes- believe me, it’s worth it.
5. Make it a Priority Sooner than Later
My young friends, we’re only getting older. Right now is the time to ensure our healthy futures. I don’t know about you guys- and I’m sure all real adults reading this are mad at me- but I’m getting grey hair. My back cracks getting up every morning. It takes me longer to jump up off the floor. I can no longer treat my skin like crap without it showing.
Only you can decide if you want to be healthy. Our family members are getting older, we’re starting new chapters in our lives…and our bodies are aging with our minds. I know exercising can be annoying. We get busy, we get tired. We want food, we want to lounge on the couch. We have time to check facebook and twitter but not 20 minutes to walk a mile? We want Jimmy John’s 5 times a week and 3 cups of coffee every day, but we don’t care it’s raising our blood pressure? Those are things our parents worry about. Not anymore. We’re twenty something. It will catch up to us soon.
I encourage you to make time for yourself. It’s often the biggest obstacle to overcome. We make time for everything else- school, work, family, friends, prayer- but all that is hurt when our bodies start failing. Do your future self a favor and make exercise a priority. We have things to do- so make sure you’re up and running to get them done.