It was just before 9am, I was walking up the stairs, catching my breath while cursing the elevator that was out of service for the third time that month. I wondered if I became unfit over the last couple of months. “No, it must be the steep stairs” inner voice tried to convince that fat angel in my head. Out of nowhere, noise of someone running up the stairs overlapped discussion in my head: “Morning! I’m in a hurry!”. It was our nearly 50 year old sales manager who just run up like a teenage gazelle, not paying attention to my fitness crisis. That made me realise it’s time to admit the harsh truth. Programming isn’t physical job and using stairs three times a month doesn’t count as a healthy workout.
Coming home from a busy day at work it gets hard to convince myself to go out for a run. It helps when I consider that my mind can be tired but the rest of the body didn’t get the workout it needs. On my first run I felt little embarrassed how slow my pace is and despite that fact I was still sweating. Good thing about running is when people see you sweat they are more likely to think you’re on your fifteenth kilometer rather than recognising you just left the house. In fact I only started with as little as one kilometer. Next day I only ran one again and tried to compare my time to see if I got better.
To keep myself motivated I started tracking my runs using endomondo app. I aimed to do at least three runs a week and on every run I tried to beat my previous time. After building up my distance to 5K I had to get better shoes for running. Until then my pair of old sneakers served the purpose. With new more suitable running shoes, things became easier. My pace has improved and I was able to increase the distance too. As a result of my regular runs my sleep got better because I was getting to bed tired, I felt more energised at work, got better at handling stress and became more positive overall. These side effects motivated my to continue running.
For my first running challenge I signed up for 10K race and supported the fight against cancer by participating. Fundraising runs are always a lot of fun, you can see people in funny costumes and if you’re lucky like me, you might get to race with sausage!
After some time I wanted to step-up a challenge and committed to running a half-marathon. Training became more challenging but still enjoyable. The big day came as a reward after a couple of weeks of preparations.
Completing a half-marathon was my first success as a runner which motivated me even more. I wanted to see if I could run a marathon. The idea of running 42K appeared crazy and impossible, which was a good incentive for me to sign up. About twelve weeks of training preceded my biggest sporting achievement. As well as my physical health I exercised my mental strength when waking up early for a run and resisting burgers for late night dinner. Finishing this long race gave me an amazing feeling of (pain and) accomplishment. Since then my confidence grew and now I know that any seemingly impossible task can be done with the right approach.
Without running, most likely I wouldn’t have enough mental energy to work on side projects, learn new technology, wouldn’t be able to cope with stress and as a result of that I wouldn’t progress in my career. You don’t even need to run marathon to enjoy the benefits and increase your productivity - which I’ll talk about more next time.
If my story inspired you, grab a pair of sneakers and give running a go. There’s a big chance it will help you too.