Just Do It   --  From No-Exercise to My First 15K

October 4, 2016 – It was a big day for me. I finished my first 15K ! I was so glad and proud that I made my way to this point. Believe it or not, I was a person who almost never worked out for all those years.

From a zero-exercise person to a 15K runner, I want to share my experience how I made it.

  • Don’t set up a specific/tangible goal, such as losing certain weight, or slimming waist down to certain inches. My goal is to keep me healthy and fit. The first step is getting to a fitness level where I no longer hate to exercise.

  • Don’t set an over-ambitious goal. Commit to consistency. I started with a distance that I could manage. I don’t force myself to do anything too hard. All I need is to make sure I stick with it and never quit.

  • Pick an exercise that fits my physical condition to start with. I don’t possess a lot of raw speed, but I am a strong endurance runner. So I chose to do long-distance running but not the sprinting that looks to build speed.

  • Pick an exercise that’s fun and easy to start with. Running may sound boring to many people, but I enjoy outdoor running where along the way I can breathe fresh air and spot beautiful scenery changes among four seasons. I didn’t choose swimming, for example, even though I know that swimming is an exercise that is very beneficial to health. I just don’t like getting wet. It needs extra time to pack. It needs extra time to drive to a swimming pool... Before I know it, one skipped workout may turn into two, and three… and I may have dropped my new routine entirely because I have all the excuses to find.

That's all. My theory is simple. Just make sure I start exercising. I can adjust my routine but never quit.

I started with 5K running from the beginning of 2012. My first biggest achievement is that I stick with it for four and half years and never quit.

Two months ago, I decided to increase my running distance to 10K. The first three times it was a little bit hard. Psychology played a big role here. As soon as I was about to approach the old destination, my body would begin to expect the level of activity and my mind would tell me I should have felt exhausted at that point. I managed to overcome this psychological obstacle by telling me again and again that was just the midpoint but not the destination. 10K running was a turning point from which I made progress. And it turned out that each little step I took in intensity would give me a symmetric reward in extra energy.

Earlier this week, I took a day off after finishing a big deadline at work. I went out to run my 10K route. To my surprise, I still felt pretty energetic after I finished. Since I had plenty of time that day, I decided to keep running to see how much more I could manage. And I finished my first 15K! That was a milestone!

Since then, 5K turns to be such an easy job. Once I challenged myself to confront more discomfort, the initial goal just naturally turns easier. What was uncomfortable yesterday is hardly noticeable today.

For me, it is a gradual process. The mindset is the key factor. I make myself believe that I must do it to survive and thrive. I set my small goals and ramp them up over time. I condition my body over time to be able to attain that challenge. I am surprised and pleased what I have achieved. I will keep going.

To start working out when you don’t like to exercise is not easy. We have natural desire to avoid any experience of discomfort. But you don’t need to become a complete fitness enthusiast to get to a place where exercise is no longer a pain. Just like learning to cook, once you reach a minimum proficiency level, exercise stops feeling bad and starts feeling good. And just like with cooking, the only way to get there is to JUST DO IT!

My next goal is getting clear: half-marathon. I am getting closer and closer to achieving that goal. I am thrilled!