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The Benefit Of Consistent Practice

I love running because it is a healthy thing to do. Running helps me shed extra pounds. I also know that it’s possible to improve my running ability with consistent practice, no matter how out-of-shape or fit I am at the moment.

A few months ago I started a regular running routine. After a few weeks I built up to a gently rolling 4 mile route on sidewalks and bike paths around the town of Golden, CO. I did this virtually every day.

This route was initially challenging for me. I’d be tempted to stop once a twice due to discomfort. I’d sweat a ton. After a few weeks the route became routine. It didn’t take that much effort. It became enjoyable.

Last week, I decided to up the ante. Why just stick to 4 miles? I carved out a new 6 mile route, and made that the norm. Yesterday, just for fun I did about 8.5 miles, with some trails thrown in for good measure. It took me 1 hour 30 minutes with all the ups and downs and altitude (I live at 5700 ft).

Today I did the 6 mile route and it was pleasant and easy. I noticed myself picking up the pace. I enjoyed the scenery. I stopped a few times to watch people riding inner tubes down the creek that flows through the center of town. Towards the end of the run, 1/2 mile from home, I naturally picked up the pace on a hill I normally would slow down on. Where did this improvement come from?

Finishing my run I promptly guzzled down a liter of water while throwing sticks for my dog, Duke. I noticed how my shirt wasn’t all that wet from sweat. I didn’t feel that tired at all. My feet didn’t hurt and neither did my legs.

Two months ago that run would have floored me.

What a difference a few months of regular practice can make. Progress isn’t necessarily linear. Every now and again, it’s as-if the benefits that have been accruing for a few weeks or months show up all at once. I don’t know of the scientific reason for this, but it’s cool to notice and I’ll take it!