I'm a runner. Surprise! ha.
I am. It's true. I have loathed running my entire life. Yes, LOATHED.
My mom 'encouraged' all of us kids to participate in sports all growing up. I played soccer until I graduated from high school, and yes, soccer does entail quite a bit of running, but if you play your cards right and get selected as sweeper or goal keeper, you don't run as much as everyone else.
In college, I rowed crew. So I basically sat on my butt for 2-3 hours a day pulling an oar. Doesn't sound very athletic does it? Try it sometime. Tell me how you feel after pulling as hard and as fast as you can for 2000 meters. Yeah.
Then after college, when I was nice and fat because I had ceased all forms of exercise and continued to consume my 4000 calorie a day diet, my mom challenged me to a 1/2 marathon.
Don't ask me why my mother does the things she does. I love her for exactly who she is because I wouldn't be the same without her. But, she comes up with the weirdest crap sometimes! There are so many wonderful stories to tell about my mom, but I'll save those for another time.
Anywho, she called me up one day and said, "Honey, I've signed us up to run the P. F. Chang's 1/2 Marathon in Arizona for the hospital."
"Oh cool! You and dad are doing a half marathon?" note the hope in my voice that 1. my father was actually going to do something athletic and 2. I was not going to be doing any running.
"Well, your father is going to go, but he won't run, you know how he is." yes, yes I do. "So I figured you and I could run together!"
"Oh. Fun! I hope I don't die. If I die in Arizona, please don't let Luke have my car"
She forced me into it, really she twisted my arm! But I love her, so I did it. And I finished the half marathon! AMAZING!
Then she made me do a full marathon. And then another. And another. And in total, I've done 6 full marathons and G-d knows how many half marathons. I can't get enough. UGH! What's wrong with me? My mom has run 10 marathons! SHE'S NUTS! I love her.
Recently, she conned my little sister into signing up for a marathon in Traverse City, Michigan, with the two of us. (If you've never been to TC, please go!)
Please ignore my sister's lazy eye....this truly was the best picture of the 3 of us after the race.
Yeah, yeah, enough about my family and how awesome of a runner I am (which I'm really not, but I digress). Back to the topic at hand: How to start running
This is a no-brainer for some people. For the rest of us mere mortals, it seems worse than climbing the Himalayas without a sherpa or a parka!
- The honest truth is you just have to get off your butt. It seems like a terrible thought, right? But it's true.
- I always tell people, in the clinic and in the real world, that if you get outside every day and go 2 steps further than you did the day before, you are improving! And day 1 may just entail opening the door, that's ok.
- But you do it. Don't push yourself to the breaking point. But don't slack off either. You need to sweat. You need to get somewhat winded. There should be tightness in your muscles the next day. This is NORMAL. Don't freak out. It's a good thing :) You're getting stronger!
- I started with half-walk half-running around my block (and it was a SHORT block, mind you). It was everything in me to keep going. Each day I increased the distance I ran and shortened the distance I walked.
- Find an eating pattern that will work well with your running. I can't eat for at least 2 hours before I run and I pretty much have to devour most of what I can reach as soon as I finish. You might be different: you might have to change your pre-run snack to cheese if you get loose bowels while you run. Trial and error. Find what works, but do it before you run any races!
- HYDRATION!!! HYDRATION!!! HYDRATION!!!
- Each day you get off your butt and go outside. Every. Single. Day. You have to. And if you feel like crap, that's ok too, just get outside. You don't have to run a 7 minute mile each day or run 20 miles each day, but you do need to get out there. The more you stick to your guns at the beginning, the faster it will become a habit and you'll actually miss it when you don't go.
- If you are training for a marathon or a half marathon, I recommend using Hal Higdon's training guide. It's flexible with your schedule and prepares you really well.
- Finally: I had a really hard time not thinking about what other people thought of me, I still do. Am I wearing the right clothes? Do I run like an idiot? Am I really that slow? Keep at it. No matter what, you're doing something good for you! And that's what really matters!
Now, get out there and kick some asphalt!