Catherine Anaya

It’s never too late

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Just do it. Nike ads and commercials have been telling us that for years.

But how often do we start the New Year with the goal of getting in better shape only to fall off track in frustration or boredom?

Physical fitness has been a priority of mine for years, to the point where I’ve been called everything from a cardio junkie to simply neurotic.

A day without at least an hour of cardio made me grumpy. That is, until about six months ago when a running injury sidelined me for a while, forcing me to scale back on the excessive exercise.

I’ve had days of guilt and bad moods because of it, but for the most part, I’ve been enjoying the reprieve for the first time in years; sleeping in, eating bread and delighting in some of the fabulous Napa wine I bought over the summer.

But now, like many of you, I’m pledging to buckle down and get back to my healthy ways. I have good incentive for doing so:  In April, I will run the Boston Marathon, the oldest and most elite of marathons, one that requires qualification to run in it.

I first ran Boston in 2007. I was still in my 30s. The weather conditions were the worst in the history of the race, but I ran it in a respectable three hours and 38 minutes, faster than the qualifying time.

With nothing left to prove after successfully running Boston, I hung up my racing shoes and went back to running just for the love of it.

But the marathon bug bit me again. Last January, I ran the Rock n’ Roll Marathon here in Phoenix, with the sole purpose of qualifying to run Boston again. I needed to finish within three hours and 50 minutes to qualify. I finished in three hours and 29 minutes. I crossed the finish line in triumph, not only for what I had personally accomplished, but because I also set out to prove that age is just a number. I hadn’t run a full marathon in three years, and yet I was just as fast in my 40s as I was in my 30s.

Perhaps your incentive for a healthier new year isn’t a marathon. But it’s a goal that, with some strong will and focus, you can achieve. I only started running five years ago. When I gave birth to my daughter 14 years ago, I weighed about 60 pounds more than I do now. It took two years to lose it, not with gimmicky diets or expensive surgeries, but the old-fashioned way: clean eating and regular exercise.

So, if you’re looking to a healthier 2011 and you come across those days where you’re ready to toss in the towel, I hope you’ll think of me and just do it. You don’t have to run a marathon to realize when it comes to health, it’s never too late.

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