Thursday, October 2, 2008

Running For Beginners

You asked. And now you're getting it. This is the post I tell you how I went from hating running to loving running. It wasn't easy. It was a long road. But I am so glad I finally gave in.

I am an athletic person to begin with. I have played so many sports in my life. Namely basketball for 8 years, softball for a few years, and was on swim team, and dance team. I love competing. It is actually one of my faults. I can be way too competitive.

Running for pleasure always seemed pointless to me. In my early twenties I hadn't yet gotten to the point in my life where I had to exercise in order to stay thin (oh youth! come back!), nor did I take any pleasure in running. I tried it a number of times and always gave up. If it wasn't for competition I just didn't see the appeal.

Then I had Tommy. The baby weight just wasn't coming off as easily as it had with Joey. The weight stubbornly stayed put. I was at a loss. I was eating well and chasing after two boys and still the weight held on. I was feeling so uncomfortable in my body that I was willing to try just about anything.

Todd has been a runner since the summer before his senior year in high school when he became fed up with being overweight and decided to do something about it. When he saw how quickly the weight came off with running he was hooked for life. He loves running and does it everyday. He has run a few marathons and always crosses the finish line looking like he just took a jog around the block.

He had tried before to get me to run with him and I would give it a lame attempt and then give up. When he heard me wailing about my stuck on baby weight he thought he would broach the subject again. Todd told me that it takes most people three to four weeks to really begin to enjoy running and that if I could stick it out that long not only would I begin to see the weight come off but I would start enjoying it as well. He stressed how important it was for me to begin slowly. This was crucial for me to hear because not only was I breastfeeding at the time but Todd also knows that I always feel I need to be perfect at everything right away. If I was going to run I wanted to go far and fast right away. He kept telling me over and over again that I COULDN'T start out that way because of the possibility of injury and stress on my body. That was important for me to hear because it took some of the pressure off to be good right away.

I started out slowly. Very slowly. The first day I ran for a block and walked for a block, ran for a block and walked for a block, the whole 20 minutes. When I came back home I felt like such a wimp. Todd told me what a great job I did and that in football they did interval training like that. He was smart to call it interval training and not catching my breath like it really was. It made me feel less like a wimp.

The next run I did the same thing. Only this time I would try to run for a block and a half and walk for a half a block. Sometimes I could do it and other times I had to walk for a whole block. But I knew for sure that I had run more than I did the first day.

Every time I ran I tried to increase my running and decrease my walking. By the end of two weeks I was walking once during a 20 minute run. By the end of the month I could run for a full 20 minutes and I had already lost 5 pounds. And you know what? I was hooked. Running had become enjoyable. Especially after I found I could fit into my prepregnancy jeans.

Winter came and we bought a treadmill. I would run while the boys were napping. I would have the television on and push myself to get to the commercials. Then when the commercials came on I would push myself to get through the commercials. If I had made it through the commercials without passing out I would see if I could make it to the next set of commercials. It was all about pushing myself to do more. A few more months and I was running for 35 to 40 minutes each run.

Running is such a mental sport. And though I wasn't really competing against anyone I did feel my competitive side kicking in. It was almost as though I was competing with myself. Always seeing if I could best myself.

When spring had rolled around again Todd and I went to Mexico for our anniversary. I was shocked to find that after having two children I weighed less than I did when we had last gone there for our honeymoon. Actually, I was the same weight I was my senior year in high school. I couldn't believe it. Once you see results like that it is hard not to keep running. I had been hoping to get back into shape but never expected results like these.

I also hadn't expected the high I always got from running. When I come back from a run I feel like a new person. I feel like I can handle anything. I am so much more patient and calm with the boys. It is the best stress reliever there is. When my mind is jumbled with problems and obstacles a run is the best thing for me. It really clears out my head. I always seem to do my best thinking (and write the best posts- only to be forgotten when I get home) when I'm running.

I'm still running now though I'm not as thin as I was on that trip to Mexico. I am about 6 pounds from that goal but I am happy with they way I am. I have had quite a bit of time off from running the past few months because of injuring my knee and all the migraines I'd been having. But I'm getting there.

So, that is my story. Slow and steady basically sums me up. I am not a fabulous runner. I don't do marathons or half marathons and don't really have any desire at this point. I've done three 10K races so far and will probably do more.

Want to give it a try? Here are my helpful starting tips:

- Start very, very slowly.
- Only run every other day to begin with. Your body will need recoup days. Once you really are feeling fit you can run more often.
- You will have good days and bad days. Some days I run 5-6 miles no problem. The next day I might struggle getting through 2 miles. Allow yourself some bad days and keep going.
- Drink water. Lots of water. But not too much water. You can get gut aches from too much water right before your run. As you go you'll learn how much your body needs.
- Eat well. Running takes a lot of fuel.
- Bananas are amazing for running. It is said that one banana can sustain you through an hour long run. Eat a banana an hour or so before you run.
- If you have an iPod Shuffle use it for running. I do SO MUCH BETTER when I run with my music. It really pumps me up.
- I like to run alone (it is the only alone time I get!) but some people find it easier to run with a partner.
- No excuses. I used to try running every once in a while and then give up because I got a gut ache, ear aches from the wind, my legs were itching, my lungs hurt, etc. You need to learn how to push your body. Push yourself. I learned my gut aches went away when I kept running. I wore a headband over my ears on windy days. I drank more water to prevent my itchy leg syndrome. My lungs adjusted. Don't give up. Keep pushing.
- Give yourself at least a month to get into it.
- Don't be too hard on yourself.

(This post is meant to explain how I got into running. It may not work this way for everyone. So, I don't want to get any emails from all you professional runners out there telling me how I'm wrong. This is not for professional runners. Just the folks who always thought they hated running and want to give it one more try.)


Liza said...

Thank you for this post. I have to admit, I hate exercise and I am definitely not a runner. A walker maybe when I get my bum out there. However you make it seem so, well, do-able, that I may just try it!


Mary Beth said...

Thank you so much for this - it gives me hope. Do you have exercised that you do before you run? Whenever I run, my shins hurt and I'm not sure what to do to keep that from happening.

imbeingheldhostage said...

This was a great, informative post. It would've been inspired me if it weren't for the fact that I tend to throw up when I run. Now, do a post on dancing that baby weight away and I'm in!

maggies mind said...

I always hated running. Then I quit smoking and really, really wanted to be able to do it. I was starting really smart taking it really easy, but without expensive shoes, I learned that my once sprained ankle would simply never allow it (and I'm too cheap to by $200 - $300 shoes when $15 at Target is about my speed). I was really bummed because just the little bit I did run made me feel empowered, especially being able to breathe again so fully as a non-smoker. I'd kind of given up on the running thing, but your post reminded me of a couple things:

*I still do want to be able to do this somehow because I remember how good I felt aside from the ankle.

*The sports doc I was sent to see did mention the treadmill as an alternative that may be easier on my ankle.

I'm going to seriously consider giving that a go to see where it leads. If I get my body in decent enough shape, maybe someday I will buy those expensive shoes and take my show on the real road. We'll see.

Thank you for inspiring me and sharing the secrets of your success. I know so little about the subject, but I do know that you are right as rain about starting small. And Todd is genius - interval training. :) He knows you, and that's awesome.

Sorry for the novel of a comment. I get like that when I'm so inspired.

Laura said...

Great post! I have just started working out every morning and I hope to start running before the bad weather hits. Your tips are great! Way to go!

Kathryn said...

Liza- Just give it a try! You may be surprised!
Mary Beth- It sounds like you need new shoes. I always know when I need new shoes cuz my ankles and shins hurt.
I'mbeingheldhostage- You can always try it again. Bodies change all the time. Maybe you won't vomit anymore. Though you may pass out. ;)
Maggie- Try wearing a brace when you run and then icing your ankle right afterwards. I'm so proud of you for even trying it!!! :)

Kathryn said...

Laura- You are doing SO GREAT on your workouts and loosing weight. You rock!

Laski Gal said...

I love to run . . . mostly because the way I feel after my last step is downright euphoric.

It is that feeling that gets me to lace up my running shoes each and every day.

With each footfall I feel like my body is doing its own happy (albeit excruciatingly painful at times) dance. Running does a body, soul, and mind good . . . really, it does (especially when you're done!).

Great post, Kathryn. Thanks so much for sharing!

Karen said...

Unfortunately, the size and sagginess of my bosoms doesn't allow for much more than a brisk walk. *grin* I like to use the elliptical when I work out. Or swim. Or chase my screaming cherubs around the house ...

Dawn said...

You would make a great coach Kathryn! You're so motivating. Yoga and Zumba already take up all of my free time but I must say...some of the best motivation for me to go to those classes, is to get some time out of the house sans kids. ;)

Krystyn said...

What a good idea! You almost make me feel like running. Unfortunately, I have bad knees. But, once I get the okay from the doctor, I'm sure I'll be on the elliptical and I will use all of these hints to get back into it.

April said...

I hate running. But I've always felt like I WANTED to like it. You've inspired me a bit to possibly try it again...but damn, I need to get a better sports bra first to hold these puppies in tight! LOL

Anonymous said...

great job!! you train alone....and then we'll meet up in a major city next year and run a half marathon!! Yay!

When you said,

"It was a long road."

I took this literally. The long roads are my fave.

Kathryn said...

Laski- It is painful once in a while but then when you are done you are so proud, aren't you? I love that feeling.

Karen- I DEFINITELY do not have the big boob problem. Nope.

Dawn- I REALLY wish I could take a Zumba class around here. It looks so fun!

Krystyn- Ellipticals are so much better for you if you have joint problems. Good idea!

April- You should try it again! My big boobed friend always wears two (sometimes three) sports bras when she runs. Or you could try duct tape! ;)

Candy- You've peaked my interest. My hubby is always trying to get me to do a half or whole marathon with him, but I don't know. It seems so unnatural. I don't think people were meant to run that far. It can't possibly be good for your body. That's why cars were invented. ;)
Still, running with you in a half does sounds like fun. Hmmmm. Maybe...

Shamelessly Sassy said...

This was a great post for me. I keep playing with the idea of starting to run. However, I'm not all that into running. I think I might start. Thanks.

Lindsay said...

I LOATH running. I have flat feet. They hurt when I run (I do have orthodics, too). I don't think I was meant to run....but by golly you've got me thinking I can do it now. It's almost winter though, and I'm NOT buying a treadmill. Hmmmmm....what to do, what to do...

Chrissy said...

I think you wrote this for me. A friend and I have been up walking every morning since school started, and we have been talking about switching to running. Now I want to do it more.

Kathryn said...

Sassy- Just try it! But give it an honest go. Try for at least a month!

Lindsay- Hmmm. Flat feet, flat feet. What to do? I don't really know. Running shoes have big arches and that can be helpful. Also carefully placing your feet as you run. Heel toe, heel toe. That might help. Maybe if you start reaaaaallllyyy slowly you could work up to it?

Chrissy- Starting with a running partner is a great idea! It really gives you motivation. Do it! :)
I'm thinking my Thursday Thirteen next week will be more helpful starting tips for running. ???

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

You are a HUGE inspiration. I love this post because it's so honest and you worked so hard. I'm almost ALMOST convinced to try this again.

Kristen said...

I think you may have convinced me. I tried running once, but got mad when I would need to stop to breathe. I would try running the whole way. Maybe if I started runing/walking, and then trying to go further each time I could do it. I know it is the best whole body workout out there, and Lord knows this 34 year old, needs to pick up something.

And thanks for the h2o explanation for the itchy legs. I always get that, and had no idea what it was from!

Yee haa!! I am going to give this a go!

Anonymous said...

I love running and found a great store (Norfolk/Virginia Beach area) that helps runners pick good shoes. They have info on all the local races. I know there's another store that has training groups for people who want to run together. That might help beginners. One owner even makes training plans for people.

Karen Deborah said...

Right on1 Having signed up with Marathon Makeover this is exactly their approach but for the very out of shape we started with one mile of walking! We began interval training after 5 mile walks. Running kills my knees because I'm too fat. I'm ready to start weight watchers and after I get down by 30 pounds will start again. I need to loose 65 so it's a half way mark.Another point you could point out is how very important proper fitting shoes are! If somebody is serious about running they need to go to Fleet Feet or some other athletic shoe place where they know how to assess both your foot and your gait. what's going on with the house? i sure wish I was in the market to move out there I loved the description of your home. How are you feeling about the process?

CC said...

This is totally me. I think I hate running but want to give it one more try (and 5 less pds). But I really don't want to have to DRIVE to exercise and my neighborhood isn't very safe and treadmills hurt me so much that I sold ours. What to do??? Really. I'm serious here. Help. Oh, and the RAINS are about to start.

Kathryn said...

Green Girl- Just do it!

Kristen- You sound a lot like me. You just need to start slower. And drink enough water but don't drink it right before you run (like maybe an hour before and a sip right before) or you'll get gut rot. ;)

Kristen Dedeyn Kirk- I used to live in Chesapeake! Howdy neighbor! That store sounds awesome!

Karen- Yes I was thinking about the shoes. I'll add it to my tips for next week's Thursday Thirteen!

CC- Well, crap. I don't know what to tell you. You definitely need the right treadmill. We were lucky to get ours for half price because someone just returned it to Sears after one use because she said she didn't loose any weight. Isn't that funny?
Anyway, why isn't it safe to jog in your neighborhood? No sidewalks? Busy roads? Crazy people? If you can't run outside cuz it is not safe and you don't want to drive to workout (which I totally get) or buy a treadmill (they are pretty expensive) I think I am at a loss. Maybe run in place? jk
Let me think about this one. Anyone else have any ideas?

MamaGeek @ Works For Us said...

Oh I wished you lived closer, I'd love to run with you. I was athletic in high school and college too and totally love sports and running. Having said that, I always get lazy come winter time. I LOATHE WINTER. WAH.

Maryeliz said...

Hey - thanks for this! Add me to a list of the inspired. Looking forward to your Thursday Thirteen with more tips. (And everything else you may blog about, of course.)

Roxy Wishum said...

Amen and amen! Have you ever read Dr. George Sheehan's writing about running? He is deceased now but was a guru during the running boom of the 70's and 80's and very philosophical about running. You are a very thoughtful writer and surely a book is in your future.

Robyn said...

Ok I am going to try and add some mileage. I am stuck at this stinking mile. I like what you said about not supposed to be able to do a marathon. I think people who can run these are amazing, I don't think my body is built to do that. I also hate running on a treadmill how the heck do you ever find the right pace. I am up and down and dang frustrated. I think I might look into an elliptical for winter. PB and I almost got hit today, people you cannot make a left turn into people walking/running who have the walk sign!

Molly's Mom said...

I've been wanting to try running for a while...and I think maybe this will help me get motivated to try it! I will have to try and find a steel girded bra for the twins, however...a C cup does not make for comfortable jostling -

Thanks :) said...

I really need to get back on the elliptical. I can't run as I have bad knees. I'm heavy and I know it. I just wish I could get over the hump.

I'm proud of you for sticking with it. Esp. when Ben prolly changed it up a bit.

kayla said...

Thanks for sharing. I love your site! I also love to run it is such a good work out!

Kathryn said...

MamaGeek- Winter always manages to throw a wrench into the works, doesn't it? Grrr.

MaryEliz- You're on my list! :)

Roxy- I've never read anything from Dr. Sheehan but I think I will now. Thank you! And you are TOO kind! :)

Robyn- I always put a towel over the monitor on the treadmill so that I don't know how fast I am going or what time I've got. Otherwise I am checking it every 5 seconds and the run feels wayyyyy longer than it is. I just try to find a comfortable pace.
So glad you weren't hit!!!

Molly's Mom- Try wearing two or three sports bras. I don't know anything about it (small ladies and all) but my friend swears by it. She is a D cup.

AFF- Ellipticals are so much better for your joints but I never feel like I am doing anything when I'm on them. I feel like I'm floating or something. Am I doing it wrong?

Kathryn said...

Kayla- Oops. Just missed ya.
Thanks for the compliment! So glad to have another runner reading. :)

CC said...

Neighborhood isn't great due to drug houses, booming cars, and cat calls. How's that. ;)

but I actually was inspired and did it today. I ran/walked down a less intimidating street for 20 minutes (like you said!)...

...and a deluge arrived at about the mid-point of my run. Suggestions for running with water pouring into your eyes?

Anonymous said...

That's how I began running years ago, but now I'm about 50lbs heavier and I have to start all over again. Sigh! I need to just do it! I'm in love with the idea of running again but I'm not in love with the hard Great tips and ideas.

Kathryn said...

CC- You are awesome!!!! I am so proud of you!!! Wooohoooo!!!!
I actually love running in the rain. I always wear a baseball cap and that helps to keep the rain out of my eyes.

Kirsty815- The hardest part is getting started, but if you can keep up with it for a month you're golden! :)

Stephanie said...

I've been seriously thinking about getting back into it. I did so well last fall, then stopped and it never happened again. I want to like it. I really do. I see results on people. I want those for myself.
The weather is finally cooler. I will try to get a run in this weekend and remember to give it time. I'm not patient and that's my downfall. I'll let you know if I do it!

Kathryn said...

Stephanie- I'm not patient with myself either. But it really is important to GO SLOWLY! And fall is the perfect time to start!
Good luck! :)

Lisa said...

I want to learn to run too. Hubby is a runner - just did a 1/2 marathon this past weekend, and he says the same thing you did. It will SUCK for a while, but eventually you'll like it. Maybe soon :)

OHmommy said...

Way to go... I totally understand what you said about seeing the results and only wanting to keep it up.

Very true.

I remember your Mexico pics. ;)

Kathryn said...

Lisa- You can do it! And it is nice that hubby runs too. I think that helped to motivate me a bit.

OHMommy- Those Mexico pics? Oh, no, no. I didn't post those. I was wearing tiny bikinis then and I just can't bring myself to post them even if I did look decent.

The pics I did post were of my and hubby in Key West and then? Not so much in shape at all. About a good 10 pounds or so more than I weigh now. That is why the majority of my body is hidden under the water. ;)
I'm still not back to the shape I was in three years ago in Mexico, but I'm getting there. Hopefully. ;)

Danielle said...

Great post about running! I am happy that you were able to stick out the month! Running does wonders for me. I started running my junior year in high school. I played softball my first two years and then when my junior year rolled around I decided to join the track team. It's kind of funny because I never thought I would enjoy running and what do you know I was the tallest girl running the mile in competition races. I ran my best mile in 5 minutes and 15 seconds!!! I'll never see that again. I still run now but am happy with and 8 minute mile. I am not a professional runner at all! I think your post will inspire more people to run. Especially, if they are wanting to lose weight. It has always worked for me!!!
Loved your post about the mice too! I've been trying to catch up on my reading. My internet connection has been down for almost a week and half. I think I am back for good now!!! At least let's hope I am!!!

Kathryn said...

Danielle- Holy crap! That is a fast mile! And 8 minutes is fast too. I'm happy when I can keep a pace just under a 9 minute mile. :)

Elaine A. said...

I think I commented that I have started running and I am definitely starting slowly. A friend of mine thought we could work up to a 3K by end of November. What do you think?

Thanks for all the great tips!!

HM said...

That's awesome to hear how you started because most people don't talk about A to B they are just at B.

Kathryn said...

Elaine- Yay you!!! That is awesome! And yes! You can definitely do a 3K by the end of November! Commit to it! That is great motivation! :)

HM- Yes, it is the A-B that counts. And it can take a while, that's for sure. At least for me it did. And every time I have another baby I have to start at A again. ;)

Words To Live By

Be grateful for each new day.
A new day that you have never lived before.
Twenty-four new, fresh, unexplored hours to use usefully and profitably.
We can squander, neglect, or use them.
Life will be richer or poorer by the way we use today.
Finish every day and be done with it.
You have done what you could;
some blunders and absurdities crept in;
forget them as soon as you can.
Tomorrow is a new day.
You shall begin it well and serenely and with too high a spirit to be
encumbered with your old nonsense.

-Ralph Waldo Emerson