I have been exercising consistently my entire adult life. I like the way it makes me feel, it helps me maintain my weight and it keeps me strong. But the real secret to staying engaged all these years has been figuring out how to make exercise fun. For me, that means turning it into a social activity, too.
And a recent DNA test proved that need is actually coded in my genes! Among the findings compiled in my personalized Vitagene Vitality Guide was this: I have “low interest” in exercise routines — it actually said that! The report suggested exercising outdoors, with friends or in competition as ways to spark my interest in physical activity. Check, check and check!
I am absolutely blessed with a core group of girlfriends who also enjoy running, biking and lifting weights. Over the years, we have kept each other honest by setting up early morning runs and bike rides, and signing up for weight-lifting classes together. Not showing up is not an option!
It’s not just physical activity that brings us together. We genuinely like each other and have fostered a deep level of trust. We all abide by the absolute rule that our confidential conversations during our workouts stay in “the vault!”
We share our joys, our heartaches, and all the ups and downs that are a natural part of life. When I was going through a tough time at work, my running partners got an earful — and a faster-than-usual pace as I picked it up while recounting my workplace issues. We know when to just listen and when to offer advice.
I was sidelined the first half of this year recovering from a broken ankle, and I really missed my run therapy! Seeing my friends was a real motivator to rehabbing that ankle and getting back out there.
So while the social strategy may not appeal to everyone, it’s my secret to exercise consistency. And I have a 30-year track record that shows it really does work for me!
I like having a major race on the calendar at least once a year. It keeps me interested in getting better and it gives me a major challenge for the year. This year, that race is the Chicago Marathon on October 8th. Just so happens that is also my birthday, so I will be having a huge party this year — 12,000 people have already RSVP’d. So nice of all of them to meet me in Chicago to celebrate!
This is my third big city marathon in the last three years. Two years ago, I ran the New York City Marathon and last year I did the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington DC. I like to have a training theme for my races. Right now it’s Big City Marathons. Before that it was Ironman triathlon. That lasted eight years and I completed five full Ironman triathlons during that time frame.
Elizabeth and I are enjoying the Big City Marathon Tour — a theme we made up– because it also gives us a chance to explore a new city, or enjoy a city we have already been to, beyond just the race.
Touring the capital after the race.
We enjoy sight-seeing during our Big City Marathon tours.
After I finished the Marine Corps Marathon, I got cleaned up, we went out for a great celebratory lunch, and we had a memorable time leisurely strolling around DC looking at the monuments and taking in the sites. It’s a day I will never forget. What made the day even more special was the fact that our son Davis was able to join us for the weekend and participate in all the activities.
I am very thankful that I have such a supportive family who joins me on these journeys.
Here is what I look for when selecting a race:
1. The reputation of the race – is it an iconic race that is well respected with a great history?
2. Is it a city Elizabeth and I will enjoy going to beside the race? What other activities can we plan while we are there? In New York, for example, we went to a Broadway show two nights before the race.
3. What are the logistics around the race? How close is the venue to an airport? Are there plenty of hotels close to the start or finish? How spectator friendly is the race?
My challenge for you is to look around at the fall racing schedule and see what appeals to you. Close or far, long or short, that’s up to you. But I do think you will find it motivating to have a fall event on the calendar. I am not sure what I am going to do in 2018 yet, that is yet to be determined. Half the fun is trying to figure that out.