Monday, May 9, 2011

So you want to start running, eh?

I get asked this question all of the time: I want to get back into running (or start running) but I just can't get motivated. Do you have any suggestions?

Suggestions? Me? You bet I do!

I think most people desire to run, or even used to run, but for whatever reason now find themselves out of running shape. Even though I've run competitively since I was in middle school, after I had my first and second child I struggled to start running again. I didn't exercise much through either pregnancy, mostly just walking and occasional lifting. Then, when I found myself with two babies under two, I found it extremely difficult to fit in any form of exercise altogether, let alone running. I had a double jogger, but my kids were uncooperative when restrained, especially when restrained next to each other.

It wasn't until my oldest was two, that I finally committed to getting back into competitive shape. We switched our gym membership over to the YMCA, where they include two hours of free child care with a family membership. I found myself slowly eeking back into shape. I signed up for a 10K and loved every second of it. Fast forward five years, and here I am today absolutely in love with running and racing.

So how do you get from, I kind-of-hate-but-tolerate running, to loving, even craving, to run?

Here's a few tips:


Most people, when they first get started, think they're back in PE running the mile for time. They take off crazy fast, poop out after one lap, and pull over on the sidelines keeled over and coughing like a lifetime smoker. Then they walk away discouraged, hating running, and not motivated to try again the next day.

*START SLOW! Run at a pace where you're in control, able to hold a conversation, and not about to die.

*STAY POSITIVE! Don't tell yourself you're“not a runner” or that you’re “going to feel bad” during a run.

* DON'T DO TOO MUCH, TOO SOON! Don't try to run 5 days/week when you first start, aim for 2 or 3 instead. Increase ONE run/week by about 1 mile or 10 minutes, keeping the others the same.

*EAT! About 2-2 1/2 hours before you run, consume a banana, or bagel, or SOMETHING. Get used to eating before you run now, because when you start running longer distances (6+ miles) your body will rely on those calories.

*RIGHT FORM! Keep your arms at a 90 degree angle, chest open, head up, torso leaning slightly forward.

*RIGHT SHOES! You can't dig those $20 sneakers from college out of the closet and expect to run well and without injury. Invest in some new, good running shoes. And get some cool new running short or tights while you're at it. Sometimes looking like a runner will give you the confidence to be a runner.


Seriously. You can talk all you want about finally doing a 5K, but until you actually pay the money and put it on your calendar, it's easy to back out. Depending on your current fitness level, pick something that's 8-16 weeks away. May I suggest The Justice Run on September 25th in Littleton? We have a 5K option, perfect for those runner's who are just starting out and a 10K option, for those who are ready to up the distance and challenge themselves a little more. Check out I'll even be posting some beginner and intermediate training plans there in the near future. Oh! And ALL the money raised goes to help human trafficking victims through the Justice Project.

Still not convinced to sign up for a race? Running to just run can get boring. Doing a race gives you an endpoint, something to work toward. And doing races is fun and addictive: the atmosphere, crossing the finish line, the satisfaction of a well earned beer (oh, and accomplishing a goal, too!).


I know we’re all super busy, especially with small kids, jobs, commitments. It's important to find a training schedule that's flexible and attainable.

Answer these questions:
When can you train?
Morning, nights, naptime?

Where will I train?
Treadmill at home, at the gym, or outside?

And if you're really starting from scratch, start with a walking plan first:

Start by walking for 25-30 minutes a day, as many days a week as you can, until it feels easy.
Then increase your pace, walking briskly for those 30 minutes each day. When this gets easy, start inserting a few jogs, of about 100 yards or so, during your 30 minute walk. Then continue to run/walk, increasing your run time each day.

Tricks for a Run/Walk Plan:
Use IPOD with # of songs. Run for 1 song, walk 1 song. Keep increasing.
Distance: Run to tree, walk. Run to school, walk.
Time: Run 4 minutes, walk 1 minute. Run 5 minutes, walk 1 minute.
Commercials: watch a show (like Biggest Loser) walk during the show, run during the commercials.

How I train:

My husband works crazy hours & I homeschool my children so they are with me ALL of the time. Most days I go to the gym. Sometimes I switch off with my friend (or husband): I watch the kids while she/he/ runs, she/he watches them while I run. You can always figure out a way to make it work!

Plus, you already signed up for a race, right? So you pretty much HAVE to figure out a way to make it work!

Don't hesitate to ask me any questions.......or for a training schedule:)

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Runners on Your Mark, Get Set, Go!

3:50 am: Alarm goes off. I hop in the shower, heat up some coffee, and eat my traditional pre-race breakfast: a bagel, peanut butter, and banana slices. I dress in long sleeves, pants, jacket, gloves, and headband. It's FREEZING outside, only 34 degrees!

4:20 am: My hubby drives me to catch the race bus. All 1,000 marathoners are required to ride the bus to the start line, 16 miles up Poudre Canyon in Ft. Collins. I chat with the gal next to me, who is also running her first marathon. I tell her I haven't run in almost two weeks because of my broken foot. "Really? You broke your foot and you're still going to do this thing?" she asks. My response, "Everyone one of us is going to be in some sort of pain during the marathon, I'm just lucky that I know exactly where it's gonna hurt."

5:45 am: Buses arrive at the start line with only 30 minutes to spare. I do the same thing the other 999 runners do- get in line for the port-o-potties. The line is CRAZY long, snaking back and forth at least six different times. I chat with the people around me.

6:10 am: Still in line for bathroom. Race starts in 5 minutes, so I get desperate- I run off into the woods, take care of business, and make it back to the starting area barely in time for the National Anthem. Others still wait for the bathroom.

6:15 am: Starting gun goes off! This is it. This is what I've trained for since January. I start my Garmin, start my IPOD, and weave past runners working my way up to those with a similar pace.

7:20 am: I'm about 8 miles in and my foot starts hurting. I took three tylenol(only type of pain killers I can take) when I first woke up, and I take two more now. The pain isn't bad, dulled by the medicine, and nothing I can't handle for the time being.

8:11 am: Halfway mark: 1:56. I'm on perfect pace, holding steady at 8:51/mile. I feel great! The canyon is absolutely beautiful; cliffs on both sides, a river snaking below the road.

8:15 am: FINALLY! A port-o-potty that doesn't have a line! Since the start of the race, every bathroom has had 2 or 3 runner's standing outside of it waiting to get inside. I've seen men and women both, darting in to the woods, behind trees, on the side of signs, all trying to do some quick-relieving without losing too many valuable seconds.

8:38 am: We are finally out of the canyon! 16 miles down, 10 miles to go. By now it is getting hot and my jacket is making me sweat. I take it off, tie it around my waist, and get ready to drop it to the Hubby as soon as I see him. I eat an entire Cliff Bloks bar, hoping I've taken in enough calories so far. You're supposed to eat somewhere around 200 calories/hour during prolonged activity, careful not to deplete your glycogen stores. I've never been able to eat that much mid-race, but I'm extra cautious today, taking in about 150 calories/hour.

8:47 am: Mile 17 is the first place along the course where spectators can see the runners. For the last 167 minutes, it's been just me, the other runners, an occasional passing car, and the aid station volunteers. But now, as I run up the slight incline to where two main highways intersect, I see the course is lined with cheering fans, holding awesome signs. I see, "Chafe now, brag forever" and "Every step is one step closer to beer". Oh, and my personal favorite, "Chuck Norris can't run a marathon". There's my Hubby and friend Kristen running toward me. Jeremiah takes my jacket, offers a gel packet and some more tylenol, as well as some encouraging words, "You're doing great and looking strong!"

9:10 am: My awesome friend Kristen drove all the way up to Ft. Collins to help me run the last 7 miles, the hardest miles by far, of the marathon. She meets me right before mile 19 at the bottom of "Bagel Hill", the biggest hill on the course. We work our way up to the top, and I start to feel it. The heavy-leg, lactic acid soaked muscle feeling. Up until this point, I had no problem holding a sub 9 minute/mile pace. But now.....things are starting to really mental resolve is chunking away piece by piece.....and my shoes feel like they're filled with Quik-set cement.

9:20 am: Less than an hour left to go (I hope!) and only 5 and a half miles. I see my Husband cheering for the last time until the finish line. We jump on to a winding bike path that promises to take us to the finish. I have no idea what's coming as this is the only part of the course I wasn't able to see before the race; a mistake I will not make again. And I am so thirsty! I'm honestly on the verge of tears looking for the next aid station. I opted to not carry my own water fearing the extra weight it would put on my broken foot. Early dehydration is setting in.

9:30 am: Kristen is smiling, encouraging me that we're getting close to the finish. She's also giving pep talks to other runners who, I'm sure, look about as miserable as I look right now.

9:52 am: 3 miles to go. Under normal circumstances, 3 miles feels like nothing to me. When you're doing 10 mile tempo runs & 20 mile long runs, 3 miles feels like eating dessert and taking a nap. But not today. I want to lie down on the side of the trail and cry.

10:18 am: We turn off the trail onto a road. There in the not-to-far distance is what I've been waiting for- the Finish Line! Kristen says, "There it is Jenny! Run it home, you're almost finished!" and drops off the course to watch the finish with the spectators.

10:20 am: I cross the finish line, arms raised, elated to have finished and to have finished well. I gulp down an entire bottle of water, take my awesome medal and commemorative poster, and look for my husband. 4:05, final time.