Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Helpful How To: Becoming a Runner

Ya'll ain't gonna believe this....

Not even if I tell ya and swear on my great-great-grandma's corn cob pipe (trust me, it was sacred!)....

But someone asked me about running.



As if I know anything about running.

But here's the thing...until this year, I never was a real runner.

I told people I was.

But I wasn't.

Not really.

I NEVER ran outdoors.

I only ran on a treadmill.

And I held on.

Now, I know this is gonna blow some of you out of the water, but that isn't really running.

That's holding yourself up as the treadmill flies under your feet.

That ain't running!!!!

To be honest, I always wanted to be a runner, but was just so sure that I couldn't that I didn't try to.

Also, I knew that to become a runner, I would have to nix what I was currently doing and start from scratch.

And I wasn't willing to lose that much ground. 

So I didn't.

And I was satisfied holding onto a treadmill.


But having Little Man threw me into a whole new arena. 

A start from scratch arena.

So liberating.

And I learned a couple things in the process.

And have almost become a real life runner.


So here's what I have learned in the process.

1.  Take it slow. 
The number one thing I did wrong in the beginning was expect too much out of myself.  I wanted to be able to head out on day one and run 2 miles and feel great.  Guess what? That's not what happened.  On day one, I couldn'teven run a half a mile.  As a matter of fact, I could barely make it 19 mailboxes. And then on day 2, I tried again, only to push myself too hard and end up almost unable to walk for 2 weeks.  With running, as with any rigorous exercise, you have to give your body time to adjust to it. 
It took some work , but after training for another 6-8 weeks on my elliptical, my legs were strong enough for me to feel like giving running another go around.  When I tried it, I made it a full mile without even a twinge of discomfort.

2.  Make it fun. 
I think we all know that exercise is not everything that Jillian and Bob would have us believe right?
Pretty sure we are all aware that it takes alot to make my butt leave the couch at all much less look forward to leaving the couch!
But I have managed to find a few ways to make it fun. 
And we've had this discussion....  We all know about my Pandora addiction...and yes (hangs head) my Lady Gaga station....
Like it or not, my partiality to up-tempo music helps me look forward to running. 
And I am not alone....
My good friend, Carrie and I have a little joke about how we have to make sure to Bring Sexy Back during every run. 
But there are other ways...I have found that running with people inspires me much more than running alone.  I mean, seriously, if I have the opportunity to gossip chit-chat while running, I am much  more inclined to be there, right?

3.  Add in distance SLOWLY.
Ok, here's where I get really technical on you.... 
Hang on.
If you are just starting out at running or are just getting back into it, you should never add more than 1/2 a mile per week to your distance.
And your first run at the new distance should obviously be slower. 
Push too hard and you will end up with shin splints.
Push too far and you will end up with shin splints.
If you don't know what shin splints are, lucky you.
I know all too well.

4.  Distance first, speed later.
Here's a strange phenomenon that makes total sense, unless you are typical over-achiever who likes to cook dinner while doing laundry, feeding your pet, cleaning your kitchen, and doing your makeup at the same time...not that I know anyone like that....
As a runner, you will never run faster until you can run farther. 
If your body is already conditioned to running 6 miles at a steady pace, your body will be much better conditioned to run 3 miles at a quicker pace.
Makes sense, right? 
Yeah, it was a total "DUH" moment for me.

5.  Take it in stride.
See what I did there???  I made a joke....hehe...take it in STRIDE....
Ok.  Fine.
What I am trying to say is, when you first start running, don't expect to run every day of the week.
I am currently running 2-3 days per week with my max being 4 days a week. 
This kind of schedule makes allowances for muscle soreness that is sure to follow your runs. 
You allow your body vital recovery time in between runs. 
Trust me on this one.
Otherwise, you are going to end up like a sourdough pretzel - tied up in a knot and super salty about it.
(Yes, I am aware that that makes 2 corny jokes in like 1 paragraph...sorry)

6. Finally, Race, race, race.
I know that you probably know this about me already, but I am extremely competitive and even more goal driven. 
I RELISH the opportunity to be better than anyone, even if it's myself.
Yes, it is easy to say no to the races because you don't want to pay the money, but it's so worth it.
Because it pushes you to constantly better yourself.
And I think we all deserve to be better than ourselves, don't you?

POST SCRIPT: I certainly don't have all the answers when it comes to running, but these observations are things that I have learned the hard way on my little journey this year, and there is always the potential that it could save you from having to learn them.  In the meantime, feel free to read about real runners like The Happy Runner or Sarah, who have both been super inspirational to me this year.  And by all means, GYRO!!!!


Ang said...

I really like your description of running on a treadmill :o)

Sarah said...

You should really see a therapist. This is about as insane as when I discuss my love for tax returns.