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A person goes on a run with their golden retriever during dusk.

6 Lessons I’ve Learned On My Running Journey

Running has been a huge part of maintaining my cystic fibrosis baseline, and it is an integral part of my treatment plan!

Running with cystic fibrosis

I started out small with a goal to run a 5k. After a few years of off and on running, I was running 10ks regularly.

Though now I run half marathons, and am training for a full marathon. It took years of trial and error to build up the stamina, strength, and lots of discipline to get to this point.

Probably the attitude that allowed me to get to the point where I am with my running is my personal credo of SO WHAT?! It’s what I use when I feel tempted to make an excuse not to do something. The So What Life is about finding solutions and adapting to life’s problems rather than letting those issues sneakily become excuses.

It’s cold outside – SO WHAT?! Wear some warm clothes and a hat+face warmer and get out there.

It’s snowing – SO WHAT?! Find some shoes that are good for slippery conditions.

It’s hot out – SO WHAT?! Go to the gym instead… I think you get the point.

Lessons I’ve learned from running with cystic fibrosis

What follows are the top 6 lessons I’ve learned throughout my running journey, keeping the “So What Life” in mind throughout.

“Motivation is what gets you started, habit is what keeps you going.” -Jim Ryun

“Motivation is what gets you started..”

The lesson I’ve learned first hand is the importance of staying motivated. Without motivation, I would have never started nor continued running. My motivation may change depending on the day but generally it is this: I will feel better physically, mentally, and emotionally if I work out. Some days my motivation is to relieve stress or sort through something that’s taking up brain space; some days it’s to get out and enjoy the cooler weather; and always my motivation comes from an inherent attitude to JUST DO IT and not waste the precious breath I have today.

“….Habit is what keeps you going.”

Plan workouts ahead of time

When I’m on my A-game, I plan ahead the days I’m going to run, based on A) the weather and B) what other fun things I have planned that week. I purposely run in the morning as a habit, because I know by the time I get home from work I may be too exhausted.

Forming habits sometimes requires me to be creative with my time, which means either sacrificing or simplifying other morning activities. For example, I’ll drink a Kate Farms shake for breakfast on the go if I don’t have time to make something, or I’ll go to bed early to wake up at 5 AM to get in a run before work.

The best way I’ve learned to develop a new habit is to set a small specific goal for 21-30 days. For example, “ my goal is to run 4 times a week for at least 30 minutes for the entire month of October.” If I don’t have 30 minutes in my day, it’s time to cut out something (e.g. TV, social media). Once I get momentum, it’s that much easier to continue!

Set up a plan to hold myself accountable

Without accountability, I will fall off the running wagon! I know that I’m inherently a procrastinator. As such, I have found ways to hold myself accountable:

  • I tell everyone I know that I’m training for a race
  • I purposely sign up for a couple races a year to ensure I’m always working towards a goal
  • I use apps like RunBet and Strava to keep me motivated and inspired
  • I have lots of running buddies in my life who run those races with me and with whom I share my tracked runs with on Strava! Not to mention, the best running buddy of all my golden retriever Nugget (below)! He holds me accountable every day because if he doesn’t get exercise he destroys my LL Bean slippers and digs holes in our back yard!

Running is mental

I have heard this statement time and time again from runners, and it couldn’t be more true. If I say out loud “I’m not a runner; I don’t like it” or even worse “I can’t run today” it sets me up to fail. Period. If I don’t believe in myself, my run is so much harder. In order to ensure I am super positive and disciplined, I have a running playlist with lots of upbeat, motivational songs to pump me up.

If I hit a tough hill, rather than automatically dreading it, I tell myself “YOU GOT THIS!” Nugget helps too! I cannot disappoint him during his endless pursuit of squirrels, chipmunks, and bunnies along our running route.

Rest rest rest

Throughout it all, it is so important to build in rest and recovery days even if it means doing some light stretching, some yoga from cf yogi, or simply taking a day off. This is especially true when I have a cf exacerbation.

Keep it simple!

Running doesn’t need to be over complicated, in fact it’s one of the easiest exercises to get into because it’s basically free. I did learn early on there are a few essentials that help like the right running sneakers and cross-training. I’ll be detailing the gear and resources I use in my next article!

In the meantime, tell me about your experience exercising or running with cystic fibrosis in our stories section.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Cystic-Fibrosis.com team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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