In 2022, I knew that I wanted to be more active and create a baseline level of fitness. That meant making sure that I was measuring improvement over time.
After a recent weight loss of 150 pounds, I am re-learning how important it is to be active every day. And while I enjoy many things with my family like hiking and kayaking, I have a demanding job and many extracurricular activities. That, coupled with a spouse who works variable shifts means that we struggle with routine things like sitting down as a family for dinner. I needed something that could flex with my schedule.
I also wanted a longer goal that would motivate me to continue, even when I felt less than inspired. With these guidelines in mind, I decided to walk a 5K every month in 2022.
So, what did this non-runner learn by completing a 5K every month for 12 months? Here are 5 things I learned.
1. Shoes matter
I did my first few with old tennis shoes that I’d mown the lawn in for about five years. I can hear all the running enthusiasts groaning! After the Erlanger 5K in March here in Chattanooga, I went to a local running shoe store. They measured my feet with a computer and helped me find a pair of shoes that made walking and running so much easier.
2. Sleep and hydration are your friend
My worst experiences were when I didn’t get enough sleep or water. And while those races taught me a lot about enduring through hardship, I didn’t enjoy them as much. And my time suffered.
3. You can walk any 5K
ANY ONE OF THEM. And people will CHEER YOU ON! Even serious runners. The racing community, at least here in Tennessee, is incredibly kind and compassionate. They don’t care about your time. They’re just here to help you get to the finish line.
4. The first time you pass someone on the course can be a little addictive
Okay, maybe this is just me, because I know I’m competitive. But this was a perk I didn’t know I’d enjoy so much. So seriously, RUN YOUR OWN RACE. You’ll see how you improve with your time, and that will drive you forward just as much as passing someone else.
5. Not all races give you medals, but that’s okay
The feeling of accomplishment that you get at 11 a.m. after completing a 5K is something that I didn’t expect to enjoy so much. Even better, your family seeing you complete these small victories gave me strength and endurance to do them even more. They were the fuel that got me out of bed when it was cold or raining or absurdly hot. And sometimes, my family was with me on the run.
In just one year I’ve shaved off an average of 13 minutes from my walking time. I walk most days at a semi-leisurely pace for fitness and relaxation, so I’m not really training hard for these events. But the results are in the race times, and they show an overall improvement in my health and ability to move.
4 tips to keep going
- Share your goals with friends and loved ones. They will want to help motivate you, and you will enjoy sharing the milestones you hit with them. I had several friends join me on my 5Ks, and it’s a great way to connect and enjoy the day.
- Keep signing up for events! It will give you something to look forward to, and hopefully work toward improving your own time.
- Celebrate others’ stories. I have one friend in a group who ran a 10K this summer after seeing me post my 5K successes. You will become the inspiration you seek, and in turn, inspire others.
- Change it up. This year, my goal is to track 7,000 steps DAILY. I found that I was hitting nearly 5,000 just in my daily routine, so going for 7,000 feels like an attainable stretch to my monthly 5K.
Get more information about specific health terms, topics and conditions to better manage your health on bcbst.com. BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee members can access wellness-related discounts on fitness products, gym memberships, healthy eating and more through Blue365®. BCBST members can also find tools and resources to help improve health and well-being by logging into BlueAccess and going to the Managing Your Health tab.