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Starting From Zero, Getting to One

fitness Mar 04, 2024

Lessons learned from rekindling my love affair with running.

Running and I suffered a serious breakup a number of years ago. We had been hot and heavy for a while in my 20s and 30s but lost the magic in my mid-40s.

Now, in my early 50s, I'm rekindling the relationship, and it's been very different. The red-hot excitement of the early days, embracing every challenge as quickly as I could, has cooled to a slow burn. I've lit the match and have been slowly reigniting things. This time, the goal is long-term smoldering. 

Off to a Slow Start. 

When I say slow, I mean really slow. Like one-mile-at-a-time slow.

Beginning January 1 this year, I set a goal to run a single mile every day. That was it. One mile. Every day. No excuses.

Running a single mile, especially if you have a history of running longer, sounds ridiculous. There are so many reasons not to:

  • It'll take almost as much time to change into running clothes as it will to run the mile.
  • It's such a short distance; it won't matter if I do it or not.
  • If I'm only running one mile, am I even a runner?

I ignored this negative chatter and instead focused on consistently getting the mile done every day for a week. 
I know what you're thinking…one week? That's it?

One Mile. Every Day. One Week. 

Yes. It's harder for me to master my brain when it comes to running than it is to master my body. 

Sticking to just one mile for 7 days, not letting some excuse derail my efforts and not jumping ahead and running 2 or 3 miles was an important part of this experiment. 

My biggest challenge was to stay focused and let the experiment play out.

It's easy as a starting-over runner to jump into going longer when your body isn't ready for it. (The ego is strong with our kind.) 

I've done this too many times to count, burning myself out or dealing with nagging injuries that stopped me from running for the longer term.

Long-term smoldering. 

Instead of focusing on how many miles I was racking up, I focused on how many days in a row I could complete one mile.

Here's What I Learned.


I'm a Personal Trainer and Nutrition Coach. I coach my clients daily on how to listen to their bodies and recognize small changes. Do the thing, and you'll see the results. 

Taking my own advice was a challenge. 

I learned that if I take my time and listen to my body, the results pile up faster than running through pain or trying to force my body to do something it isn't ready for.


For myself and others. It's easy to watch other people run or walk around a track and make judgments about them and their fitness routines. 

Recognizing my own journey back to the start line and my small wins helps me to celebrate and turn off the negativity in my own head.


Just showing up and completing a single mile again and again helped me to look forward to completing it, no matter what time of day it got done. My body was more eager each day to just do it. Nurturing the relationship started paying dividends immediately. I looked forward to running instead of dreading the task I set before myself.


This, above all other things. Keeping the goal simple…complete one mile…helped me to do it every day. I proved to myself that, Yes, I can find the time to do what I WANT to do every day.

Release the guilt of short runs

If you've run longer runs in the past, following a "speed workout, strength train, long-run" weekly cycle, then running a single mile is tough. The "I should's" pile up quickly. 

Comparing my current running relationship to our past relationship, finding myself lacking is easy. 

This time though, I knew that if running and I started casually, we could spark the flames of passion again soon enough. 

This time, my goal was to show up every day and do it. If I could show up for a single mile (a distance many would say isn't even worth showing up for), I could do it for longer runs and different workouts.

Finding Purpose in the Passion.

As we approach the end of February, I've worked my long run up to 5 miles, and I'm running a consistent 10–15 miles each week. 

Throughout January, I kept 1-mile runs in my running plan. Finding the time for running, even if it's just for a mile, is the kindling that keeps the fire burning. 

It can't be all speed work and long runs. 

I started running again because I loved it and I missed it. Running makes me feel strong and relaxed when I let it. When I try to force the relationship to be what it was, it sparks and burns out. 

Nothing can be as it was. Change is what makes life new and exciting. 

What Sparks Your Passion? 

Find your spark. Whether it's running or any other activity that feeds your passion for life. Is there something that you dropped in the past? If you miss it, pick it up again and restart the relationship. 
Will this relationship last? I hope so. I've got some big mileage goals for 2024. And they all begin with a single mile.


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