It is said that it takes 21 days to form a habit, others say it takes longer. So how long does it take to change your life? From my experience, all it takes is about 1 minute. In that 1 minute, you can make a decision that can and will change your life forever.
Today is December 23rd, which is a very special day for me. It is not because it is the day before Christmas Eve, although Christmas is a very big deal in my family (and especially so this year as I now have 5 nephews, 2 of which will be celebrating their first Christmases).
December 23rd is special to me because it is when I celebrate the anniversary of the day that I changed my life, it is my runnerversary.
As Casual Runners know, December 23, 2011 was the day that I took responsibility for myself, and committed to changing my lifestyle, to taking on new challenges, and to embarking on a new and exciting adventure. It was the day on which I ran my first mile.
Like many people, I have struggled my entire life with motivation, with finding the time to exercise, with setting my lifestyle priorities, and with finding the consistency to stick to a healthy exercise routine. And then, one day – on THAT day – for whatever reason, it all clicked and I was able to run that first mile, and I have never looked back.
To me, this really is a big deal. Yes, I have lost a significant amount of weight and accumulated a treasure trove of SMOs, but more importantly to me, my Casual Running adventures have brought me a great deal of satisfaction, pride, and happiness. I love the freedom of knowing that, at any time, I can throw on a pair of shoes and go out for a run, to explore the woods and running trails, to test my limits, to enjoy some time to myself to think and just have fun. To me, Casual Running is freedom, it is relaxation, it is fun, and it is rewarding.
Over the past two months I have been sidelined by this nagging (and painful) foot injury and the recovery and rehab process has been slow and very frustrating. This experience has reminded me just how much I have grown to love, and need, running in my life. When I haven’t been able to run, I miss how good it makes me feel, I miss the stress relief, I miss the sense of accomplishment, and I miss just getting out there and enjoying myself. These reminders are helping to make this runnerversary that much more special to me.
I now celebrate my runnerversary annually as a reminder to myself of how far I have come, how far I still desire to go, and to help inspire others to get up and run their own first miles. Remember, we all need to start somewhere, we just need to make the decision to start. Here is what I posted on Facebook on my first runnerversary back in 2012:
If you would pardon me a moment of indulgence: One year ago this week I resolved to start living a healthier, better, and more active lifestyle. Since then, I logged more than 500 miles while jogging, ran 3 races (including 2 10ks), lost more than 46 pounds, and feel like a completely different person. I think that I can safely declare, “RESOLUTION KEPT!” In the coming new year I resolve to continue on this path, with even more ambitious goals: starting with the Disney [Princess] half marathon in February, I will run no fewer than 5 chipped races of 10K or longer and aim to log 1,044 miles. For those of you keeping track at home, that is the road distance to drive from my house to the Main Gate at Walt Disney World. Happy New Year to all of my friends and family.
Fast forward to 2013, here is what I posted on my 2nd runnerversary:
Today is my 2nd RUNiversary. Two years ago today, I went out to get some exercise, so I decided to go for a jog, but literally could not make it to the end of my block. Disappointed, defeated, and angry at myself, I made a decision that changed my life: I got back out there and, without any plan or real agenda, started interval training. I never looked back. In the 2 years since, I logged over 1,600 training miles, completed 4 10ks, a marathon relay, and 6 half marathons, and yesterday I concluded the major training cycle for my first marathon in January. It has been one heck of a ride, or, er, run…and I thank everyone for your tremendous support along the way – those who ran a few miles or races with me, those who showed up at ungodly hours to support me along the race courses, and especially those who have been there with supportive and encouraging words. It has meant the world to me. Here are a few before and after shots, with a few nephews as “props,” to show just how much has changed in the last 2 years.
As you can see, those oldest nephews, and 1 of the 2 newest additions, are featured on this page, as I think it is important to remember that we are growing together – me in my running, and them in, well, every aspect of their lives.
So, on December 23, 2014, here is where I stand in my progress. In the last 3 years of my Casual Running adventures, I have now run:
- 1 marathon relay (Akron Marathon)
- 2 5ks (Holly Shuster 5k, Castaway Cay 5k)
- 4 10ks (Youngstown Peace Race (twice), Towpath, Disneyland)
- 2 race challenges (runDisney Coast to Coast and Dumbo Double Dare Challenges)
- 12 half marathons (Princess, Wine and Dine (twice), Presque Isle (twice), Pittsburgh (twice), Cleveland, Akron (twice), Disneyland, Cedar Point)
- 2 full marathons (Walt Disney World Marathon, Marine Corps Marathon)
- I have run races in 5 states (Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida, California, and Virginia), and the District of Columbia, plus 2 countries (USA, Bahamas).
Through it all, I have logged 2,483.9 miles, and I am just getting started.
I cannot wait for 2015 as I have already set several Casual Running goals for myself, including the runDisney Dopey Challenge next month, and am working on setting several more. I am hoping to recover from this injury and to stay injury-free as I continue to explore the world, and my own limitations, through my Casual Running adventures. And through it all, I will be proud and honored to have you all come along for the ride…er…run!
I plan on going out for a celebratory run later today, and I am sure my thoughts will be filled with how far I have come, and all of the great family and friends who have been so incredible in their support of me during these past 3 years. I will also think of the friends that I have toed the line with me, those new friends who I met through races, and those great friends who I have yet to meet.
So, as I celebrate this, my third runnerversary, I want to end by wishing you all the very best in your Casual Running and other fitness goals, and of course, by wishing you all the very merriest of Christmases, the happiest of holidays, and a happy, healthy, and adventurous new year!
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