Resolution Ready: The Slacker’s Guide to Creating New Habits (Like Running) and Breaking Sh*tty Ones

Longmont Uber runner Beth Risdon – author of the famous “Shut Up And Run” blog has this advice for starting – and cementing – new healthy habits. Remember, KISS.

My son, Sam, was home from college for the weekend. He likes to come home because he misses me so much. Or, maybe it’s because I feed him and provide him with a bed that has clean sheets (I think he told me has not yet changed his sheets on his college bed – I mean, it has only been three months since he got there so it’s not like they’re dirty or anything. It’s not like there’s B.O. and pieces of skin and drool all over them or anything).

Anyhow, I asked him if he was working out anymore. He used to go to the gym pretty regularly. He said, “No. It’s just so hard to get over the hump mentally to get started again.” And, I completely know what he means. The thing is, that’s precisely why I never take a significant break from running or exercise. Because I’m afraid if I’m gone too long and I get out of the habit, it will be that much harder to start up again.

What I’ve learned is that there are two things in life that are really tough (well, there are many more, but these are just two of them): breaking bad habits and starting new, healthier habits.

Take drinking wine, for example. I am very much in the habit of nightly wine drinking, for better or for worse. I know it’s become a habit – a way I reward myself. A glass while I cook dinner. A glass to accompany me when I watch “This Is Us” (although I probably get even more emotionally manipulated by that show when I’m drinking). I know I could stop my nightly drinking (but why would I want to?), but it’s the breaking of the habit that is so hard.

If you’re old enough, you remember that we didn’t used to wear seat belts. Like, not ever. Then it became the law and the norm that you had to wear a seat belt. Buzz kill. There go all of the cross country road trips where we would lay down in the back of the station wagon on the old plaid blanket from the garage. Anyway, at first putting on a seat belt was such a pain in the ass. You had to make a conscious effort to do and you felt so restricted. But, now that it has become a habit? I do it so automatically I don’t even know I do it. Bingo! That’s the point of this post!

Running has become that way for me. Just part of my life and my routine. Kind of like drinking wine and brushing my teeth (not at the same time). I don’t run everyday, but I do run about five days a week and don’t feel like myself if I don’t do it.

So, how do you create a new habit or break a bad one? (I’m going to use the example of someone who wants to start drinking more water every day because their pee should be the color of Crystal Light Lemonade and it looks like Guinness, but you could apply this to running more, drinking less wine, cutting back on coffee or not eating sweets). I call this the “The Slacker’s Guide” because it doesn’t require a ton of imagination or creativity. Even your college kid can do it….

Click here  to read the five key steps to making a new habit stick.

9 Things Only Runners Who Are Getting Older Will Understand

Original post from Shut Up and Run blog by Longmont’s Beth Risdon here

 

I know I’ve told you many times that I’m turning 50 on February 22. I keep reminding you this mostly so you will send me gifts and money, but also to demonstrate that life doesn’t end at 50! I have plans for myself, I have goals! I am just getting started.

That said, let’s get realistic. As we age, shit happens. Our bodies change. Our metabolism slows. Bodily functions get more interesting. Our stamina can wane. Oh, boo hoo. But, it’s not all bad. Here are some issues we might contend with as we get older and continue to run. Don’t let them scare you, but just be aware.

1. You pee yourself. This can also be called “urinary incontinence” if you are a smarty pants. The good news is, peeing yourself unexpectedly is not only reserved for those of us getting older, but can happen at any age. However, as the body undergoes pregnancy and menopause, UI become more of a reality. Why? Because with these conditions comes the weakening of bladder muscles. And, when you combine the impact and jostling that running requires with weak bladder muscles – well, you piss yourself. Make no mistake – this happens to men too, but is more common in women.

2. You slow down. Like anything with aging, it’s not a given that certain things will occur, but it is likely. There is a reason that the Boston Qualifying times increase as we age. As the years pile on, the body, unfortunately, tends to break down. Our ability to take in oxygen decreases. We lose flexibility. Muscle strength lessens. While this sounds horrendous and like we should just be put down like a bunch of older and lame horses, there are things we can do. Strength train. Take our calcium. Keep moving. And, most importantly, just because we slow down does not mean we can’t still have big goals and strive for them!

3. Recovery takes longer and becomes more and more important. Remember when you were a twenty something stud and you could drink all night and get up and function relatively fine the next day? Fast forward to when you’re a forty or fifty something person. You try to drink all night and you find that if you try to move the next day, you are near death and begging anyone to bring you some Nuun while you lay as still as possible underneath your sheets. Running is kind of the same. As we get older, we simply have to rest up more to stay healthy and uninjured. C’est la vie.

That’s me on the left. So what if there were only three of us in this age group?

4. You just might have a chance at that podium! As age goes up, so do age group race times. This means that if your chances just might increase to place in your age group as you get older.

 

5. You risk cardiac death. Damn, this just got depressing. The stats on this one show that marathoners over 50 are twice as likely to have a heart attack while running a marathon than those under 40 years old (source). However, the odds are still in our favor, as only 1 in 100,000 marathoners die during a race. To assume that would be you is pretty self-centered. Plus, by running, we are decreasing our risk of so many other conditions such as diabetes and various cancers. It also strengthens our joints. To me, taking that 1/100,000 risk is pretty damn worth it.

6. You gain weight. No matter how much you run. This phenomenon is a drag and is largely due to hormonal deficiencies that occur as we age. And Oreos. We begin to lose muscle, get belly fat, have trouble sleeping and can be more prone to depression and anxiety (another reason to keep running).  Weight gain can be a runner’s nightmare because who wants to carry around an extra 10 pound sack of flour while running? To combat this, be diligent about eating a smart diet high in grains, veggies, lean proteins. Keep moving.

7. Aunt Flow shows up when she damn well pleases. As we age and those hormones fluctuate, our periods can become incredibly irregular. This comes in super handy on race day or during a long run when the floodgates open and you aren’t prepared.

8. Sleeping becomes a pain in ass. As we age, sleep times decrease. We may find we wake a lot in the night and spend the next two hours worrying about how we’re going to pay for our kid’s college, if we left the iron on, how much pesticides are on grapes and how we’re going to finish that marathon we signed up for. You also might wake up for your run and find you are fatigued from cumulative nights of not getting enough rest. There are lots of anecdotes for getting better rest: hot tea with apple cider vinegar and honey (Tim Ferriss swears by this), Melatonin, lavender oil on your pillow or just a good solid Ambien or bottle of wine.

One of my favorite shirts. Truth!

9. You manage life better than your non running friends. Let’s face it. As we age, life can get pretty stressful. We worry about having enough money for retirement. Our kids leave. Our parents get sick. We come to recognize our own mortality. The bright spot is that people who run have less depression and anxiety, on average. This is because just 10 to 20 minutes of running can produce feel good chemicals in the brain.

 

That wasn’t so bad, was it? While it’s true that we may deteriorate a bit as we age, I’m a believer in embracing the older years and continuing to set high expectations for myself. Sure, I may have to work a bit harder, I might have to pay closer attention to recovery and I might have to deal with the unexpected, but I’m not dead and until that day, I’m going to keep at it.