Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Running…Just Keep putting one Foot in Front of the Other

I love running! There are few things that make me feel better than hitting the pavement and putting in a few miles. Running helps me feel balanced and sane. It is one of the few things I can do without really having to think.

Running is a big part of how I managed stress and kept my sanity over the past couple of years, but it is something that I haven’t been doing very long. I wasn’t a runner growing up. In fact, I only started running because I wanted to do a triathlon. It was on my to-do list, and it is hard to finish one if you don’t run. My best friend and I decided to do a super-sprint during the summer of 2005. 

Looking back, I can see that was the first step in moving my life in a new direction. Participating in various races has been a big part of my life over the past five years. Since that first triathlon, I have done a couple of longer triathlons, a few 5ks and two half-marathons. Next up on my list is a marathon, but more about that another day.

A number of my friends have asked me how I started or said that they never could run a 5k/10k/half-marathon/etc. The thing is, if I can do it, anyone can. All you need is little time and patience. The patience is often the hardest part for me. I have put together a few tips from my experience to help those who are starting out:

  • Start with realistic goals and expectations – Running is hard, especially when you are just starting out. If you expect to get off your couch and start running 7-minute miles, you are setting yourself up for failure. Think about where you are and where you would like to be and set your goals from there. Remember that everyone progresses at their own rate.
  • Focus on baby steps – When I first started running, I was slow. Realistically, I still am slow, but each time I try and cut a few seconds or run a little longer than I did the last time. I track my distance, time and intervals and look for improvements over time. Once you have been at it a while, you will be amazed at your progress.
  • It’s okay to walk – I am a big fan of the run/walk training method. Jeff Galloway is a personal hero. As I have gotten stronger, I increase the ratio of running to walking in my training. I also think this method makes it easier to break down larger goals.
  • Change your perceptions about what is possible – This was probably the most important thing for me. When I first started running, I couldn’t imagine running 3 miles let alone 13; however, as I kept pushing my distance I kept achieving things I never imagined. I don’t know if running changed my perceptions or changing my perceptions helped change my running, but it worked.
Another thing that has helped me is having someone in my corner. For me, this is my husband; he is always there to run with me or to be my cheerleader. Knowing you have someone to help you reach your goals is helpful. We may not run at the same pace, but knowing someone is out there with you is great. The thing about running is that it is really just about putting one foot in front of the other.