Running in the 'Meda: Making fitness a habit

Running in the 'Meda: Making fitness a habit

Marty Beene

Getting into a habit of fitness can be a challenge for many people. If you are ever going to do it, or if you have dabbled in fitness from time to time, but never really committed, now is the time!

Why now? Why not three months ago or three months from now?

Simple: the days are longer now, and our weather is perfect for outdoor exercise.

When it's too dark or too cold or too hot, we tend to resist exercising outdoors. Many people won't even feel motivated to work out indoors under those conditions because it just feels more comfortable to stay in bed or in their office or on their living room couch than to make the effort to get to the gym. These feelings are understandable.

But right now, the outdoor conditions are terrific. The sun is up (albeit sometimes hiding behind our natural air conditioning system known as overcast) early, then stays up late - which gives us opportunities to exercise before or after work (or both!). Our daytime high temperatures rarely reach very far into the 70s, so we don't have to worry too much about avoiding the heat.

Take advantage of these conditions. Even if you're not planning to immediately embark on an intense exercise regimen like marathon running or cycling up Mount Diablo, the early sunrises and late sunsets give us an opportunity for a brisk 30-minute (or more!) walk before breakfast or after dinner. When you do this regularly, you can develop a habit so that it feels more unusual to NOT exercise than to exercise.

Once you develop that habit, you can expand your exercise regimen more easily because it won't feel foreign to you. It will even help you get to an indoor exercise session at other times of the year because you'll feel the need to exercise, even though it's in a different context. Before you know it, you'll be the person in your family or social group who's know as the fitness fanatic.

Speaking of more intense exercise (than walking), congratulations to the nearly 1,800 women who participated in the See Jane Run races this past Sunday. The race is intended as a women's race, although men are permitted and a few do participate.

Of the 777 women completing the half marathon, Julita Baker was first, squeaking under the 90-minute mark by about a half minute. In the 5k distance, there were over a thousand finishers - 51-year-old Diane Batchelor took the gold by averaging a blazing 6:41 per mile.

Congrats to all of the finishers!

When they first started doing women's only races back in the '80s, I saw it as an opportunity to support the women's running community by volunteering instead of racing. I remember helping out at the finish line of a 10k race in Golden Gate Park - I got to be pretty good at dodging vomit (true story). But it was definitely a fun experience to support other runners. I couldn't do that for this year's See Jane Run event, but, hey, guys, let's all get out there together and help out next year - who's with me?

Marty Beene, a USA Track & Field certified coach and NASM-certified personal trainer, is owner of Be The Runner; he coaches adults from beginners to veterans individually and in groups. Catch him on one of his 5:30 a.m. walks, or e-mail him at