Thursday, August 14, 2014

The Friday Five - So you want to be a runner...

Being a new runner often comes with intimidation, trepidation and a huge learning curve.

I never liked running early on in life.  Flat out hated it….in fact, I skipped the day of school where we had to run 2 miles for PE.  It made me that anxious.  I was slow.  I was usually last.  It made me feel defeated.

So when I took up running at the age of 33, it came as a surprise to many.

I didn’t have a lot of support, had no real running group or partner and basically was on my own for accountability. 

I started running a little bit in a boot camp class I had taken at Lifetime Fitness.  Soon I was able to run 3 miles!  Then I decided I wanted to run a marathon (big jump, right?).  Not just any marathon either – the New York City Marathon. I researched what I needed to do to make it happen.  I entered the lottery with little chance of being chosen, picked a training plan and before I knew it, was toeing the line on Staten Island.

Training for that race kept me sane.  At the time I was going through a divorce, was sorely underweight (what girl ever says that?!) and struggling with depression and anxiety.  I credit running with getting me out of that fog.  It made me happy.  I felt alive when I ran.  Invincible even. 

Over the years my race resume has grown….I went from wanting to run one marathon, to wanting to run 50 by the time I turn 50.  I love distance, the challenge, the adrenaline at a race start.

So….my pearls of wisdom follow.

Here are some great tips to get started!

1     Invest in a good pair of shoes.  Don’t buy the ones that are “cute” or that your friend swears by….go to a legit running store and have them look at your stride and gait.  Most shoe pros recommend that your running shoes be a full size or size and half larger than your regular, everyday shoes.   They will put you in a pair of shoes that were meant for you.  Be sure to ask about the return policy though, just in case they don’t work for you.  Replace those shoes every 300-400 miles.  Yes.  It’s good to keep track! J

2    Set a goal.  There is nothing better than a deadline.  Look for a local race that is 2-3 months out.  Most training plans, even for 5 and 10k distances require a full 10-12 weeks of training.  It doesn’t even have to be a race.  You can set a time or distance goal for yourself too.  Ex…I want to be able to run ten miles, I want to run a sub 30 min 5k, etc.  Personal goals are the best!  The allow you to give yourself that extra push to dig deep.

3    Get a plan.  There are lots of free plans on the internet!  I have used Jeff Galloway’s run/walk method (which btw is *awesome* for new and experienced runners alike), Hal Higdon’s plans and last year even hired a coach who personalized a plan for me.  Runkeeper is a great ap for plans as well, they are also free.  I recently used their sub 2 hr half marathon plan and it got me within 5 minutes of a sub two.  I also love the runkeeper ap as it helps track miles and gives you the opportunity to “check off” training runs.  Couch to 5k is another great ap that has a lot of success stories.

4    Find a training partner or a running group.  I belong to an awesome group called “Moms RunThis Town”.  It is free and nationwide.  Just plug in your city and see if there is one near you.  If there isn’t, you can start your own!  I am co-lead of a group that started one year ago and we are now 500 members strong.  Belonging to a group is great for motivation and accountability.  If you know your girls are waiting on you for that Saturday long run, you are a lot less likely to hit snooze on the alarm at 6:30am on your weekend off.  It’s also fun to meet up with friends at races and other events.

  5       Invest in some good socks.  They can make a huge difference between a good and bad run,    blistered/chaffed feet or pretty feet (the same goes for the shoes).

I can’t imagine my life now without running.  Running is my chance to be with my thoughts.  Sometimes it’s the only hour or so out of my day where I’m not talking to anyone.  The feeling when the run is finished is the best!  If you have ever heard the term “runner’s high”, who ever said it wasn’t exaggerating!  Running gives me more energy and allows me to splurge on a cupcake or two and not feel bad about it.  Running to eat good things without feeling bad is totally legit in my world.

In closing remember….

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