I read an article recently that suggested that 50% of people starting an exercise program will dropout within the first 6 months. I know, from experience, that this is accurate. I have had my fair share of fitness program dropouts throughout the years, that’s for sure. So what was it that made it stick this time? I really think it was just the fact that I was finally ready. I was finally ready to stop sitting around making excuses and start making it happen.
I decided to get fit at the age of 35. Ironically, at age 35 I had many more responsibilities than I did at 25, so why wasn’t I able to work in fitness at 25 as a newlywed with no kids? I genuinely feel that I had to decide for myself that I was finally ready. I had to commit to what I was doing and stick to my plan. I had to fight the urge to stop. I continue to fight this urge today, and I know that I am not alone. I know I am not alone because that is what social networking in regards to fitness is all about. It’s about encouraging and motivating each other and it is so very helpful to me.
I remember, vividly, those first several attempts at running. I remember I had my headphones and some music and I attempted to run for a whole two and a half minute song before I allowed myself to walk. I remember it took me several attempts before I could do it. I remember wondering if maybe running wasn’t for me. Maybe I wasn’t suited for it. I kept running, though, because it was an activity I could fit in around my work and children’s schedules. I kept going and I started feeling stronger and stronger as time went on. The day I was able to run three miles without stopping is still, honestly, one of the greatest accomplishments I’ve ever known. It is a great accomplishment because when I started running, in the back of my mind, I knew I would probably quit, just like I quit everything else. The fact that I was running three miles without stopping; however, meant I could sign up for a 5K race, and that’s when I really started enjoying running. Next came 10ks and half marathons and, ultimately a full marathon.
I was talking with one of my good friends recently about exercise and motivation and sticking to a program. She asserted that if a person really has a passion for their activity or program that it takes on a whole new meaning. I don’t think she was saying that if a person has a passion for an activity it is easy, but just that it is somewhat easier because it is enjoyable. I can certainly see that this is the case for me and my running. It certainly did develop into a passion for me. During that first six months to a year of running; however, it was a far cry from a passion for me. Honestly, in the beginning, it really felt like torture. My muscles were developing and my pain threshold was being challenged. I learned a lot about myself as I developed into a runner. I learned that feeling strong is wonderful, and I never want to feel weak again.
So, yes, running is a passion of mine, but I’d be lying if I said that I look forward to every run. I’d be lying if I said that I don’t sometimes consider quitting. Ultimately, I keep going, because I know how happy running has made me. Running is more habit for me than it is passion at this point. I guess the main point to take away from the passion vs. habit argument in regards to fitness, is that if you’re waiting to find an activity that you instantly feel passionate about, you will never find it. A new program is hard and it hurts. Pushing through fatigue, soreness, and even pain goes against human nature and our natural defense mechanisms. Once the muscles develop and you get used to the fatigue, soreness, and pain, that’s when you can start to enjoy an activity that just might turn into a passion if you keep going.