Running is hands down my favorite form of exercise. It’s cheap and simple and there’s nothing like the endorphin rush after a good run. But I didn’t always love running. In fact, for a good period of time, I hated it. I can still recall my first attempt at running my freshman year of college. I threw on my shoes, plugged in my iPod, and sprinted out the door of my dorm, excited to embrace all that was the world of running. Unfortunately, while my mind was anxious to get out there and try new things, my body was not. I made it five minutes before I was stopped in my tracks, out of breath, with debilitating side stitches, thinking that I was actually going to die.
Needless to say that running did not come easy for me. I was small and athletic—I certainly had the body of a runner. But my lungs were simply not conditioned for aerobic activity. I, however, was determined to fall in love with running. After months of trying to start running and quitting (this happened at least five times), I finally decided to stick with it.
It was not easy. In fact, it was incredibly difficult. But how did I do it? I opted to skip the popular Couch to 5k Program and instead started out by running one mile and recording my time. The next day, I tried to beat that time. And the day after that, I tried to beat that time. Once I got semi-comfortable running a mile, I upped it to 2 miles (I know, BIG TIME!) and continued the process. I aimed to complete one “long” run a week in which I ran an extra five minutes longer than I usually did. All the while, I recorded my times. I still have my first recorded week of running! Check out how slow I was:
Day 1 (Wednesday March 30)- 1 mile 10:30
Day 1 (Wednesday March 30)- 1 mile 10:20
Day 2 (Saturday April 2)- 1 mile 9:59
Day 3 (Sunday April 3)- 1 mile 9:30
Day 4 (Monday April 4)- 1 mile 9:11
Day 5 (Wednesday April 6)- 2 miles 19:50
At this point, I decided to sign up for a half-marathon so that I would have a goal to be working towards. I signed up for the Nike Women’s Half Marathon in San Francisco (the one where you get a Tiffany’s necklace at the end from a firefighter in a tuxedo!) I think the key to my success was writing down my daily runs. Being able to look back and see my progress was motivating and inspired me to push hard every day. It was by no means easy, but I was determined to become a runner.
To make a long story short, I completed my first half marathon in 2:08:38 (9:48 min/mi) in October 2011. Since then, I have run 3 other half marathons and dropped my PR down to 1:49:41 (8:22 min/mi)! Remember, this is the girl who had to stop five minutes into her first run. If I can learn to love running, anyone can!
If you’re just starting out running, here are my tips:
- Make a plan. Whether you decide to follow a Couch to 5k program, or go my route of running a mile and slowly upping your distance while trying to improve your times, having a plan is a huge key to success. Then, write or print out your schedule so that you don’t have to think about what to do each day.
- Record your results. This was essential for me! I needed to be able to look on paper and see my improvement or I lost motivation. Write your runs down in a notebook, a word document, or get fancy and record them on a website. Whether you are running a 10 minute mile or a 5 minute mile, a PR (Personal Record) is a PR and you should be proud of it!
- Get equipped. Running does not require much equipment, but good running shoes are essential to running comfortably and staying injury free. Go to a local running store and have your gait analyzed so they can fit you with a good pair of shoes. Also consider downloading an app that records your pace. This way you can run outside (way more fun than on a treadmill) while still knowing your distance and pace. I suggest Nike+ or Runtastic.
- Don’t be afraid to push yourself. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Running is all about pushing your limits, whether it’s running a little bit faster or going a little bit longer. It’s tough when you’re doing it, but the reward is worth it.
- Sign up for a race! Having a goal to work towards is an amazing motivator. Plus, once you run one race, you’ll be addicted. The crowds, the energy, the endorphins, the adrenaline. It’s amazing!
Happy Running everyone!!!