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:

1) AVOID ROOKIE MISTAKES

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.

2) REGISTER FOR A RACE

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 www.thejusticerun.org. 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!).



3) COME UP WITH A STRATEGY

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:)

1 comment:

Sue said...

I can attest to quality of Jenny's training schedules. Seriously, they will kick your butt and make you run faster! (Or at least have fun trying.)

I've had her do a couple running ones as well as one for a sprint tri. While admittedly I didn't follow them exactly to the letter, they were a great guide and definitely helped me focus my training.

Jenny is a wealth of knowledge and is always willing to share her insight. But just be sure to ask her questions while she's in a class or on the treadmill because if you're outside with her...she'll leave you in the dust. :)