Why weight-loss is a lot like running a marathon

Last year around this time I took a leap of faith and signed up for my first half-marathon – the 2013 Lululemon SeaWheeze. This week, I took the leap again, and while it’s significantly less scary after you have a few races under your belt, there’s something about running that gets to me like no other workout can.

Still in shock post SeWheeze last summer

When I started to run regularly last year in preparation for the the August race, it was hard. As someone who had primarily used the treadmill for short and sweet interval training, getting outside and running – indefinitely, with no breaks – was outside my comfort zone. As someone with short achilles tendons and weird feet, it was way outside my comfort zone.

Despite being uncomfortable, my early runs went pretty well. I quickly fell in love with the experience of running outside, and was able to gradually increase my distance and pace without any major setbacks. Running felt good – sweaty, wheezy, super challenging at times, but good.

But then, there are the bad runs. And the bad weeks. For a beginner still riding the highs of a new (running) relationship, they can be hard to recover from. It’s all too easy to give up on something as challenging (and let’s be honest, tedious) as running when there are so many different ways to sweat.

After a few months of other challenges, running regularly again somehow feels more daunting than tackling an Insanity workout or a spin class. When you do something over and over – which you must when you’re training – it’s impossible to sustain constant improvement. There are bad runs; there are a lot of bad runs. But you still have to get up and go running the next day.

This doesn’t sound especially fun, does it? But there is a victory in training for something like a half-marathon unparalleled by challenging workouts in the gym. It’s only through all that repetition that someone can evolve from a never-runner to a 13.1 mile runner. Likewise, as I am slowly realizing this year, weight loss is more like running than like anything else. Making the right choices day in and day out doesn’t result in much right away, but you know that if you don’t do it, you have no hope of achieving the goal. I hope that by starting to run again I will remember how to appreciate the process; you don’t train for a marathon in a week, and you don’t lose weight by dieting for a day either.

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