do something every day :: exercise edition

little-things-repeated i've talked here many times about how doing something every day helps you perfect your craft, helps you become a "pro" versus an "amateur."  today i'm still talking about it, but i'm relating it to my exercise routine.

i'm going to insert a little background here because it matters to the story || i started running competitively when i was 9 years old. i set all kinds of course records and state age group records. i won a couple state championships in high school. i competed for the university of north carolina in cross country, indoor and outdoor track. i was top 3 in the ACC many times. i ran for the nike farm team, an olympic development team, for a short while before starting law school. || ok background part over.

in the last few months of 2012 i started feeling really sluggish, unfit and unhealthy. and then i saw a picture of myself. i didn't even recognize my body. that photo combined with how i felt served as a wake up call. i decided that i was going to run every day. EVERY day.( elise did something similar - running every day from thanksgiving to new years.)  i decided i would also do at least 10 pushups and a minute of plank every day. my husband (who i met while we both were running for UNC - he was captain of the track team) decided to join me for these daily runs and pushups.

the law-school trained part of me knew we needed to define what "a run" meant. in college, we didn't count something as a run unless it was 4 or 5 miles. and it was almost NEVER slower than 8 minute mile pace (for the women, faster for men). but that was then and this is now. we decided that for now, a run of at least 2 miles would count. and at the start, it wouldn't matter how fast (or slow) we ran.

so we've been running at least 2 miles every day. sometimes in the morning, sometimes at night. i've run on trails, pavement, treadmill, hills, and flat.  there are a lot of days when i feel like running 3 or 5 or 6 miles. so i do. but on the days when i feel really tired or we are traveling or busy life is happening, i run 2.  he does the same.  and it's good enough.  today marks 60 days in a row. (i ran 75 days in a row in 2011, so i'd like to surpass that BUT  i don't want to get ahead of myself). i want to take it one. day. at. a. time. and it's working for me.  i am not in shape to run a fast 5k or marathon, but i AM in better shape than i  was.

neither of us have missed a day of pushups or plank. i started out doing modified pushups (on the knees), and now i can do 6-7 real ones before having to do the modified. chris does way more pushups than i do, and just set a record for how many he can do in a row. now we are doing 90 seconds of plank instead of a minute.  in february i decided to add at least a minute of additional strength exercise. i've been doing that and loving it. most days i do 2 minutes and i'm sure it will build up. but even if it doesn't, i'm doing something every day.

doing something daily makes it become a habit.  now i don't battle myself over whether i'll run or exercise.  i already know i'm going to do it.  i can use my brain power / willpower to make art or write instead of using it to debate myself about my exercise.

the biggest lesson for me in all of this has been to let go of all the pressure of what i used to be able to do, or the pressure of what i want to become. i am living in the moment of each day. i'm only focusing on running today. i'm focusing on doing my plank and pushups today.  and the magic of focusing on just one day at a time is that you become better at whatever it is you're doing without carrying the burden of getting better. i am a better runner now than i was 60 days ago. but i didn't carry that "i have to be better"weight on my back for 60 days.

doing something every day seems like a huge task, but doing something today is not.