In the last couple of days I’ve started a program to learn to run for thirty minutes continuously. The object of the program is to build a running habit of 30 minutes every day, as a way to improve physical (and in my case, mental) health.
So every day since Sunday I have been out in a local field, iPhone in hand with the built-in stop watch feature set and the music blaring, running around as recommended by this program suggested by About.com. Divided up into bursts of running for 1, 2 or 3 minutes, separated by 1 minute walking segments, the idea is to slowly strengthen myself until I can run for 30 minutes without stopping.
So far, it’s been intense but good, although it’s still early days. I get an e-mail every day telling me what today’s 30 minutes will look like.
I’ve struggled for the last several years to find a consistent exercise routine. The closest that I’ve come to date has been my participation in dragonboating. Dragonboating is a fantastic sport in that anyone can participate regardless of their skill and fitness levels and that provides a lot of core exercise. It’s also a team sport, which is great for socializing, and it opens op a lot of possibilities to compete in a variety of locations.
But dragonboating is a seasonal sport, largely in spring and summer. There’s few opportunities to participate in it during the fall and winter.
I’ve previously joined gyms and done more traditional work outs but those are subject to a person’s ability to routinely pay the necessary fees. Unfortunately, as someone who struggles with mental illness, I haven’t always been able to manage that. Fall off the wagon one month and suddenly it becomes a lot easier to just skip the next.
Running on the other hand, can be done year round and requires little more than a good pair of shoes and iPod to entertain you. Weather obviously has an impact, but back on the Coast, it never gets cold enough to deter me from going outside.
Running in short, requires little in the way of ongoing financial support and can be done all the time. It’s a simple and effective way to add some physical activity to my routine that’s not dependent on anything other than my own motivation.
One of the things that I’ve commented on recently was how a lot of the new habits I built over the last year continued through my last relapse into Depression, how I continued to make sure my kitchen was clean, how I continued to take care of my self in ways that I hadn’t been able to before.
My new habits proved to be very durable, despite the relapse, and may have even helped to mitigate it.
Running may be the new habit that provides a very needed physical activity habit that may further mitigate future episodes, to the point where I remain more functional during the episode. A durable running habit may be another piece in building my post-Depression future.
We’ll see. First I have to get through this three-week getting started training. Then I’ll have a much better idea as to whether or not this going to work for me.
You can check out the program I am using here.