Call it New Year's resolution week, Round 2.
In Charleston, the number of people running, walking and biking outside during the week of the Cooper River Bridge Run and Walk seems to triple.
I'll never forget what former Post and Courier columnist Ken Burger said to me years ago. “The Bridge Run is the one day of the year that running is cool.”
I didn't bother expressing my opinion to the contrary, particularly to an avid golfer who'd probably never understand the joy, freedom and catharsis of moving across the ground on one's own two feet.
But he was near a point — the interest in living actively does spike this week. It also may have to do with the fact that the weather is usually stellar, warm enough to draw out the cold phobes and cool enough for the heat phobes.
Seize the energy
Many disparage New Year's because so many abandon resolutions to be active in a matter of days or weeks, but you never know when it's going to catch on. It's kind of like a smoker who has tried to quit, but keeps trying and finds his own way to free himself from nicotine.
If you're compelled to put on those running or walking shoes or dust off that bike, do it. Just don't get discouraged when you get a little winded or if something aches.
A younger colleague of mine, who has admitted to not being very active, told me last week that she just started running.
“When will it stop being so hard?” she asked, after about a week of running. “Should I try to walk and run?”
It is amazing to me how we humans expect instant results and yet don't realize how, realistically, our bodies — barring some extenuating circumstances such as existing disease, obesity or age — adapt so quickly.
They are wondrous biological machines.
If done gradually and consistently, running will start to feel more natural for a newbie in the eight- to 10-week time frame. That's the time frame that nonelite running coaches, such as local Noah Moore, who teach the “Couch to 5K” training program are using with great success.
The website C25K put it in a nutshell: “Its secret is that it's a gentle introduction to getting the body moving, starting off alternating between walking and running small distances, and slowly building up until after 8 weeks, you're ready to run 5 kilometers or 30 minutes nonstop.”
So go slow. And, of course, it's always a good idea to let your doc listen to your ticker first before jumping in.
And while it's a good idea to walk before you run, if you aspire to only walk, that's OK. I don't agree with some experts that say that walking is just as good as running, but it's still good and so enjoyable. I walk my dogs at least twice a day, and it's so refreshing mentally.
So how do you, as local fitness guru Janis Newton at the Medical University of South Carolina says, “reset the default button” to choosing exercise and healthy food over sitting and junk food?
Again, it's consistency over time.
The Bridge Run works for so many because it is a goal of the masses.
But the beauty of Charleston is that there are a multitude of diverse events, year-round, to set your sights on, including many that don't involve running, such as charity walks and paddling events. Get familiar with calendars listed on websites such as charlestonrunningclub.com and coastalcyclists.com.
Local running, cycling and outdoor outfitter stores not only share expertise in buying quality gear that fits, but also offer training programs and host events. Follow them, along with yours truly, on Facebook and Twitter for ideas on goals and upcoming events.
The Bridge Run Expo, to be held noon-8 p.m. Thursday and 8 a.m.-8 p.m. Friday at the Charleston Area Convention Center in North Charleston, will be a temporary fitness mall and offer an opportunity to see an array of products and get a few discounted items. The expo is open to anyone to attend.
And you're free to join the herd this week, but don't go back to the couch on Sunday. Life's too short to sit inside, especially in Charleston.
Reach David Quick at firstname.lastname@example.org.