Story by Becky Taylor, TSET Healthy Living Program Coordinator
It is way too easy to hit snooze on my alarm clock. Exercising in the morning always seems like a good idea until the alarm starts yelling at an ungodly hour. Like most of us, I have a busy schedule—I am a mom of two young boys, I work full-time, and I am training for my fourth marathon. So when my alarm clock starts making an awful noise at 4:05 am, I am full of excuses: the moon is still the only light in the sky, my bed is way too comfy, I think I have a headache, I need more sleep—and I hit snooze. This process repeats itself two to three times until I begrudgingly get out of bed and sleepily walk to the bathroom to get ready for my run, trying to keep quiet as the rest of my house sleeps peacefully.
Although I love my sleep, there are two reasons that always win out as I decide to stop hitting snooze and get out of bed. The first is my friends. I run with friends almost every morning. It is one thing not to get out of bed and wish later that I did, but it is another to keep two friends waiting for me outside in the dark. Friends are a great motivation to get up and get moving. Friends can make long runs seem a bit shorter, make a new fitness class seem less intimidating, make walking more enjoyable, and make the miles while cycling feel like they are flying by. Not only does exercising with friends serve as motivation and encouragement, exercising alongside one another also strengthens friendships. Running serves as a time to talk to my friends, share work ideas, laugh at funny moments, and running allows us time to talk about our fears, parenting, recipes, and dreams. My running partners are some of my closest friends. We know how to push one another and encourage each other to finish strong. We have crossed finished lines together, trained countless miles together, and talked through every subject imaginable together. It is one thing to finish an 18 mile run alone; it is another to know that my friends finished right beside me.
The second reason that gets me out of bed is the regret of missing a run. I never finish a run and wish that I would have continued sleeping. I do, however, regret choosing not to run. I never finish an exercise class and wish that I would have watched TV instead. I never walk to the park with my boys and wish that we would have chosen to play the iPad instead. There is always regret in choosing to skip exercise, and always satisfaction, pride, and confidence in finishing something hard.
Physical activity is vital for a healthy body and mind. No matter your age, shape, or size, the advantages of being physically active far outnumber any disadvantage. Physical activity does not have to be miserable—and it does not have to be at 4:05 in the morning! Grab some friends and choose to get moving. I promise you will not regret it.