How I “built, measured, and learned” that long-distance running is for me

If you’re in the process of figuring out what a manageable and enjoyable fitness journey looks like for you, how can the iterative cycle discussed here help you decide? Here’s an example, based on the tips we shared in this dot.LA article.

For someone who didn’t like physical education growing up, trying to get into running was daunting. In January 2017, I considered signing up to do a half-marathon in June . My motivation: my friends were training for it and I didn’t want to miss out.

Get on the Same Page about Priorities and Scope

First, I did a little background research. I found the “couch to half-marathon” guide [1] to help minimize risk of injury — and to see if I’d even like running.

In this case, I set my MVT to doing the first exercise in the guide, which was 10 reps of jogging for 1 minute followed by walking for 2 minutes. If I could accomplish this first, simple task, I figured, I would learn whether running was for me, and learn a little about my threshold for injury.

Agree on What Success Looks Like

To help me decide if jogging would be my new hobby, I settled on a 1-question survey with a 5-point scale (shown in Figure 1, below).

1-question survey: How likely are you to attempt the next workout (in the training guide) in the next 2-3 days?

Before my very first run, I was neutral (“sideways thumb”, on a 5-point scale) on whether I would attempt another jog later that week.

Only if I rated myself at an average of “slight thumbs up” or higher, after the workouts in the first two weeks of the training plan, I decided, would I consider training for the half-marathon.

Build a Test with Clearly Defined Goals

Then it was time to workout! After my very first run, I rated myself again -- and it was a hard-earned 4. I checked-in with myself after every workout for two weeks, to see if I’d consider doing the next workout.

Because I enjoyed my first run, I kept going, and went on the next one, and the one after that. Before I knew it, I had completed two weeks of workouts, rating my interest each time in continuing an average of 4 or higher.

In order to up the stake on myself, I told my friends that I’d join them for training. You already do this in your personal life, by sharing good (and not-so-good) news with your immediate family and friends first, then acquaintances, then everyone else as you become more confident in your ability to achieve your goals.

Decide on Next Steps

In my postmortem, I realized I needed to schedule my workouts for the upcoming week and be sure to stretch the sides of my legs after a run.

I went on to complete the half-marathon in June 2017 -- and have been jogging ever since.

Figure 1: 5-point scale: "thumbs down" corresponding to "1", and "thumbs up" to 5.