How I succeeded in my fitness goals

By Victoria Valdez
Sports Editor

Photo illustration by Eriana Ruiz | Victoria Valdez, Brookhaven College student, runs through the jogging trail tunnel.

I signed up for my first 5k run, the Heroes Run 5K at Brookhaven College, in the beginning of February. 

Five kilometers, or 3.1 miles, is a great distance for beginner runners.  A 5k run can be prepared for in just two months, according to Mayo Clinic.

I made running a habit last year, so I knew I was capable of completing this race. 

I finished in 32 minutes. Later that day, I found out I finished 38 out of 114 people and 8 out of 60 overall in the women’s category.

If someone would have told me I would run a 5k race two years ago, I would have laughed because throughout most of my life, I’ve never been the athletic type.  

UNATHLETIC START

Physical activity, such as sports or exercise, has always been a challenge because I dreaded those activities. I told myself I would never be fit or athletic, and I was OK with that.

Although most people consider exercise and physical activities beneficial, they often give excuses to avoid them because it’s uncomfortable. People tend to respond to immediate experiences rather than respond to future rewards, according to Psychology Today. 

In the eighth grade, I enrolled in an athletics course. I was the worst student. The closest I got to joining a sports team was signing up to be the water girl for the girls’ volleyball team. 

Before a district field meet at Tommy Standridge Stadium in Carrollton, a coach said we needed two girls to run the 800-meter dash.

I volunteered, and to no one’s surprise, finished last. 

I was embarrassed. The stadium was packed and everybody waited five minutes for me to cross the finish line.

I told myself I would never race again.

LIFESTYLE CHANGE
I gained 30 pounds in the couple years since I graduated from high school in 2014.

In the beginning of 2017, I decided to start consistently exercising. I did strength training exercises at home and cardio on my treadmill. 

In the beginning, I did small exercises and challenged myself every day to complete them. The first day was excruciating. I couldn’t jog on the treadmill for more than three minutes. I panted loudly. I only ran for 10 minutes that day.

It’s best to ease into an exercise routine by starting slowly, according to WebMD.

I lost 25 pounds in four months by working out and eating better. The more I exercised, the more strength and endurance I built.

Now, I run longer. I lift heavier. I am more confident. 

According to WebMD, people tend to give up on exercise because they focus too much on losing weight. Exercising isn’t about losing weight. It’s a lifestyle. I now have more energy to do daily activities, such as running up the stairs, cleaning and walking.

HEROES RUN 5K
I signed up for the Heroes Run 5K to stay motivated. I hadn’t been consistent with running because I was busy with school. I ended up not training as much as I wanted to, but as the race approached, I still felt ready.

The day of the race was 48 degrees outside. There were more than 100 people ready to run. I was intimidated by the experienced athletes warming up before the race. I wasn’t aiming to win, but I was worried I would disappoint myself by coming in last again.

First-time runners tend to worry they will be the last person to finish, but most of the time they are wrong, according to verywellfit.com. 

When the race began, all I could think about was finishing. After a few minutes, I wanted to give up because it was cold. But after seeing some people in front of me stop running, I was motivated to keep going and ignored the cold weather. 

People who face discomfort will eventually not notice it, according to Psychology Today. The cold bothered me at first, but the longer I faced it, the less I noticed it.

KEEP ON RUNNING
I plan on running more 5k runs in the future. One of my dreams is to complete an Ironman triathlon, which consists of a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bicycle ride and a marathon run, according to fitday.com. 

I have a long way to go to be ready for such a race, but I know I’ll be capable as long as I keep training. I may not be the fastest or the most talented athlete, but I definitely have the stamina.

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