Happy New Year! Congratulations on almost surviving the first week of January. I hope your 2016 is off to a good start. May it be filled with hope, new beginnings and action!
Did you make any resolutions this year? I sure didn’t. And here’s why.
Habits instead of Resolutions
I gave up New Year’s resolutions a few years ago. I like the goal setting exercise of resolutions, and I also like the sense of hope and new beginnings that resolutions bring. The problem is, like most people, I rarely follow through with resolutions and beginning of the year proclamations. Maybe the fresh-start approach is better? Or how about vowing to focus on habits, (this link is to the abstract, if you want to read the full text, ask your local reference librarian to dig you up a copy).
“…..habits, which are actions that occur in response to stimuli without necessarily bringing to mind the goal of that action. Habits are contrasted with goal-oriented behavior and form one class of automatic behavior. They become established by repetition and routine, their emergence being marked by measurable changes in brain circuits….”
Habits form based on repetition and routine, and repetition and routine change our brain? Cool. I’m happy to learn that even old, middle aged brains are malleable. We can keep changing habits and rewiring our brains until we die. But if we want to change habits, we have to change our routines, and keep at those new routines until they become automatic processes.
Starting a running habit nagged me for years. I thought biking was enough exercise to keep me healthy. Then Tim sent me this article about bone density and cycling and it freaked me out. Even though I’m not a 110 pound bike racer who spends hours in the saddle, and my brittle-bone-risk is relatively low, I still want to do everything I can to keep my bones healthy into old age. Adding running, or any weight bearing activity, to my exercise routine became a goal.
But I just couldn’t get into a running routine, no matter how many times I tried.
I even tried reading run-stories for inspiration. (Do you sense a reading theme?) Check out the Oiselle blog for uplifting run-stories written by kick ass women. But no matter how many posts I read about flying and birds and wings, I spent most of my time dreaming and planning for runs while my shoes stayed dry and my butt remained firmly planted in my desk chair. I like the way running makes me feel both physically and mentally. And I like that running delivers a really good workout in a small amount of time. Despite the good feelings and the quick workout, I still couldn’t manage to turn desire into a run-habit. I’d start, keep it up for a few weeks, or months, then eventually I’d stop.
The beauty of a running buddy.
What changed? A run-angel-buddy-friend, Pam, floated into my life at the perfect time. She had just moved to Seattle and was looking for someone to run with, and I needed a kick in the butt to get started running again. Since our run-philosophies and schedules were the perfect match, we made a plan to run together two mornings a week. Pam showed up every week; rain, shine, snow, sleet, fog, or hot sun to run with me. I expected her soft knock every Tuesday and Thursday morning, and she expected me to answer the door. I couldn’t make excuses or skip runs, because I didn’t want to disappoint her. That mutual commitment was/is enough to ensure some running happened for both of us on a regular basis. It didn’t take long for our arrangement to become a habit. After a couple of weeks, we didn’t text the night before to confirm, we just knew running was going to happen Tuesdays and Thursdays at 7:30. Those pesky automatic processes had turned into a habit.
Now I’m addicted to running with a buddy. After Pam moved away, I found a new run buddy. Kimberly and I just celebrated our one year runiversary on January 5th. We both agree that running with a friend is good for the body and soul. Not only do we share a goal and commitment, we share a little piece of ourselves with each run. I love it all; mostly the camaraderie, the chatting time, and the shared accomplishment.
What to look for in a run buddy.
Your run buddy should have a few traits that match yours; compatible personality, fitness goals, schedule, and desire. You don’t want to choose someone who’s training for a marathon, if you just want to run a 3K. Or someone who isn’t a morning person, when you leap out of bed at 6:00 every day raring to go. Schedules and goals and desire have to mesh, or the run-buddy partnership just won’t work.
I just read on the Oiselle blog that they are kicking off a six week run challenge, urging runners to find a buddy and set a goal. While their goals are more wing-appropriate than my normal shuffle, the intent is the same:
This year, we’r e kicking off the New Year with a six-week to run love challenge! The New Year is the perfect time for a fresh start, it’s a time to dream big and jump into a new relationship (or resolution) with arms wide open.
What about you? Do you have a partner who helps you maintain your habits? Share your buddy stories in the comments.Happy New Year everyone. Cheers to health, new routines and long lasting habits to start 2016.
Book List, what Anne is currently reading: All the Light We Cannot See