I’ve been having a rough time at work this week – but that’s neither here nor there. However, after a particularly hard time last night, I didn’t get to the gym at all, and also didn’t get to bed until midnight (late for me when I try to get up at 6am to go to the gym). I woke up to my (intentionally-delayed) alarm at 6:30am and was in a fog. There was no way I was going to the gym, let alone for the Rachel Cosgrove weight lifting routine I had wanted to do. It took me a while to get up and going, and when I did, my legs were actually still a little sore from Tuesday night’s workout – clearly a sign to take it easy and be lazy.
I contemplated just messing around on the internet with the 15 or so minutes of extra time I now had, but then I thought about how I didn’t meet my goal for the first week of “Improve Yourself” month. I realized that at the very least, I could go down and knock out a mile on the treadmill. Every mile counts, right? I grabbed my phone with its downloaded video of this week’s “Bachelor Pad”, and told myself that even if I just walked one mile in 15 minutes, it would count as a mile, gosh darn it.
As you probably expected from this story (and the many times I’ve told similar ones), I got on the treadmill and changed course. Some combination of boredom and not wanting to be shown up by the 60 year old jogging on the next treadmill over got me to crank up the pace until I was doing an 8 minute mile (yes, at a 1.0 incline so it was a “legit” pace like running outside). I kept it up until the end of that first mile I had promised myself I would do, then slowed to a walk for a minute. Hey, I had already done another tenth of a mile – why not kick it up one more time and knock out a second mile? So I did. End result: 2.16 miles in 18:23. Not bad, especially considering I wasn’t going to do anything at all!
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: every little bit counts. I was lucky enough to be staying in a hotel, with a gym/treadmill just a few floors away. But no matter where you are, it’s rarely more than just a minute or two to get outside and go for a run. Add a few minutes to throw on your running clothes and sneakers (I like to optimistically line them up before I go to bed), and you can always get at least a mile in – arriving back in your bedroom in about the same time it would have taken you to hit the snooze button twice.
In case you need more proof, a recent study of Taiwan found that people who exercised just 15 minutes a day cut their risk of death by 14% and extended their life expectancy by three years (compared to those who didn’t do any exercise). And every additional 15 minutes of exercise reduced the risk of death by another 4%. (Unfortunately, this study didn’t specify an upper limit, though I don’t think you automatically live to be 150 if you work out six hours a day). Self Magazine recently did an insightful post on how much exercise you really need, and I found it noteworthy that 15 minutes a day is all it takes to stay in shape. Of course you have to work out significantly more if you’re trying to lose weight (45-60 minutes), but just a short 15 minutes is all it takes to reap the healthy benefits. Sold!
For me, my morning run turned out to be my saving grace of the day. When things started to hit the fan at work, somehow my run made me feel better. It felt great to know that I had gotten one thing right in my day. As an added bonus, the “on the healthy track” mood I get in after working out in the morning also made me crave healthy foods for breakfast and lunch, and also helped me say no to the temptation of the mini Snickers bars and barrel of pretzels my coworkers keep around. (Okay, so I may be going out for beers tonight – nobody’s perfect.) But hey – those are other things I did right today! When criticism is flying at you from all sides, you have to celebrate the small victories.
God, I missed running. But I’m back!