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.)