Friday morning I desperately wanted to stay in bed, but dragged myself up to run 7 miles.
Saturday morning I also wanted to stay in bed, but I was meeting friends so that got me up. I was supposed to do 10 miles, but I got there a little early and its suddenly cold out, so I ran around the block until everyone was ready so I ended up with 11 slow, easy miles.
|Chatting and running with these guys gets me out of bed|
As with anything else, a simple Google search will get you tons of expert advice on how to begin running, train for a 5K, or whatever you need, so in the interest of not saying the same thing that's been said a million times already, I thought I'd share how I got into running, and some Dos and Don'ts that I learned along the way.
I credit two close college friends for getting me in to running, and luckily these are still two of my best friends today.
My roommate and BFF Amanda was (is) a runner.
|Moving out, sophomore year|
She took me on a run around campus, maybe 10 or 15 minutes, probably something around a mile. I could barely walk for days.
|Even back then, I knew how to refuel.|
Junior year, I started running with my friend Carolyn She asked me to run a 5 mile race with her. I'm pretty sure that up until that moment, I had no idea that "races" existed, other than maybe in the Olympics. At the time, 5 miles seemed incredibly far, and I referred to that race as "the marathon". I was terrified, but I survived.
|Carolyn and I, sophomore year|
first marathon side by side with her!
Up until I started training for my first half marathon, five years later, that was the longest distance I ever ran.
So, I started running at age 19. Up until I was 26, when I got into racing, I did it entirely for exercise and for fun. I had no idea there was any running "equipment" out there, other than sneakers and an Ipod. I didn't know there was special "moisture wicking" clothing. I didn't wear a watch, and the closest I ever got to pacing was to occasionally glance at the clock when I left and when I returned, and if I was running a common route, try to see if the time was any faster than usual. To increase my distance, I'd add a loop through a new neighborhood or run further out on a street, if I felt like it and had extra time.
If DailyMile existed back then, I honestly don't know if I would have ever stuck with it. My point is, I ran entirely based on how I felt, and just built speed and distance when it felt natural. I wasn't comparing myself with anyone, because I really didn't have anyone to compare to, and even if I did, I had no idea how far I was running anyway!
Fast forward to age 26 - Carolyn mentioned she was running a half marathon (are you noticing a trend here?). I decided if she could, I could, so I signed up for the Baltimore Half Marathon. The two year anniversary of that race will be in two weeks, when I run the full Baltimore Marathon for the second time. In those two years, I've run 5 half marathons, 2 full marathons, 2 ultra marathons, and a bunch of other various distance races, including my first triathlon!
There are a lot of great programs out there for beginner runners, like the Couch to 5K program. My husband started with that, and he's running his second half marathon this month. Personally though, what worked for me was just enjoying running on its own, with no goals, until I felt comfortable with it. I did that for 7 years, obviously, I'm sure a few weeks would be sufficient for normal people.
Although my actions may not show it, I have learned a thing or two in my running. Here's some Dos and Don't.
DO go immediately to a running store and get fitted for shoes. Not Dicks. A real, specialty running store, staffed by runners, where they don't work on commission.
DON'T run until you make that trip and buy the right shoes for you.
DO take it easy. Lots of people think they "can't" run because they think running = sprinting. Start out running slow enough that you can easily talk your running buddies' ear off.
DON'T worry about speed. Every new race distance I've trained for, I've only worried about finishing the first time around. Start by building mileage.
DO find a running buddy. When you buy your shoes, ask about local running clubs. Check meetup.com. Check Facebook. I literally have friends that show up at my house at 5am before work to run, only because I met them in a running group.
DON'T be afraid to meet new people, or think they will all be hardcore runners. Groups vary like crazy in speed. The only reason I heard about and signed up for my triathlon was because I randomly accepted a Facebook invitation to join a bunch of girls that I barely knew to run.
DO hydrate! Dehydration is a huge fear of mine. Make sure you are drinking water if you are running more than an hour or so.
DON'T think this means you need pricey apparatus. I trained for my first half marathon by driving the routes before I ran them and hiding water bottles in the bushes, because that's how the cool kids do it. Carolyn planned her routes around water fountains. You can also stick close to home and take water breaks.
DO warm up before your runs, and stretch after. Runnersworld has great stretching idea, and they give visuals!
DON'T run every day. Personally, I run 4-5 times each week, and I used to do cross training before the 50 Miler took over my life.
DO invest in some moisture wicking clothes, once you decide you love running and want to stick with it. I didn't get my first moisture wicking shirt until the expo before my first half marathon, but if I'd known they existed, I would have long before.
DON'T run in cotton. It's just gross. Trust me.
DO use Map My Run or Googlemaps pedometer to plan your routes, so you can see how far you are running. For example, if you training plan says run 2 miles, you can put in your address, and plan a two mile loop.
DON'T expect it to be easy. A lot of people seem to think I have a magical power that enables me to run. I don't. I started out barely able to run a mile, and built up slowly over time. Even though I'm training for a 50 mile race, there are plenty of times where I think I'm going to die on a five mile run. You will sweat. You will suck wind. Sorry to be a Debbie Downer, just keeping it real. Running isn't easy, but it's great because if you stick with it, you are guaranteed to see progress. And that's a good feeling.
DO listen to Ke$ha.
DON'T listen to country.
DO sign up for a race! Use active.com or RunningintheUSA to find a race near you - 5K (3.1 miles) is a good distance to start with.
DON'T wear the race shirt to the race. It's lame.