Running. An activity that seems to either evoke immense excitement or extreme hatred. I used to fall squarely in the latter of those two emotions. Running and I did not get along. At all. I shied away from running for a long time. Why? It was hard. It didn’t come naturally to me like many other activities. Plain and simply, I feared not doing well. I used to trap myself with the “all or nothing” mentality and allowed myself to believe that if I couldn’t run marathons or do a super speedy 7:00 minute mile, then it was a waste. I wanted to stick in my safe zone of attending spin classes and lifting some impressive weights “for a girl” in the gym. I didn’t want to venture into running because I wondered if it would make me feel less worthy in my fitness. Oh, how silly.
Once I began reading blogs, I noticed how many other women out there loved the sport. They didn’t all have to compete in races to enjoy it. They weren’t all super speedsters. They were real women doing an activity they truly loved and learning more about themselves along the way. Seeing the personal side of running made it more intriguing to me. I decided that after I had my baby, I would give this running thing a more serious try.
And I have. I gave birth to my son just under 3 months ago. I picked up the Couch to 5K workout 3 weeks post partum because I felt so great and was cleared for exercise. Six weeks into the program, I was in love with running. Running provided a personal challenge and goal where I only had to compete against myself. The adrenaline of each workout did nothing short of prove to me the wondrous strength of my body. I could take that time to get completely inside myself and prove that I can do anything I set my mind to. Who cares if I don’t go the same distance as some other runners? Who cares if I don’t run the fastest? I challenge myself each workout and learn new things about myself each time I lace up those sneakers. Now, I can run 5 miles at a time and I run my first 5K race on April 16th. I firmly believe anyone out there can do the same. If you’re scared to get started, here’s a few things to keep in mind:
- Remember you don’t have to be great. It may surprise you that when you take the pressure off running, you enjoy it a lot more than anticipated.
- Follow a plan. I cannot recommend the Couch to 5K program enough for starting out. It gradually builds up runs with walking and running intervals, which you can adapt to YOUR body and abilities.
- Continue making small changes. After I reached the point I could run my 5K distance, I would try to increase my mileage just .2 or .3 miles one or two runs a week. That built up gradually to where I now run 5 miles at a time.
- Don’t try to do it all. I run 2 or 3 times a week. I pick one thing to focus on during each of my runs. A bit longer? Then, I keep it slower to focus on achieving that new distance. More speed? I will do a shorter run to be able to push the pace. A mental break? I just go out and go with the flow without any set plan. Decide what you want from each workout and be reasonable.
- Stretch! Stretch! Stretch! The foam roller is my best friend after runs. I don’t want any injuries if I can avoid them. I have learned from other runners that flexibility plays a huge role in that.
- Find inspiration and insight from others. Learn all you can from others on how to make the most of your training. Bloggers are a fabulous resource!
- Sign up for a race. Once you get to a certain comfort level with running, pick an event to motivate you. I know it gives me something to look forward to and feel excited about.
- Never forget why you run. Why do you want to run? It should be for the personal challenge. The thrill of achieving new things. Having fun!
So, give it a shot if you haven’t already. You just may fall in love.
You can visit me at my healthy living blog Faith Fitness Fun, where I discuss a variety of topics from workout ideas to intuitive eating. I always openly share my triumphs and trials as a mother of two searching for balance and working towards my goals of getting back in shape post-pregnancy. Hope to see you there!