running 101: getting started.

“How did you do it?”

“I decided to be able to.”

So, I signed up for a half marathon.  I have been consistently running for almost 7 years at this point and how I’ve never run a race is anyone’s guess.  But that doesn’t make me feel like any less of a runner.  Recently, my boyfriend got me a copy of Alexandra Heminsley’s book “Running Like a Girl”.  To be honest, I didn’t think I would like it nearly as much as I did.  In fact I devoured the book.  It is the perfect read if you’ve ever had any questions about running.  If you’ve never run more than your gym class mile as a kid or if you’re a consistent runner averaging 50 miles+ a week, you can still get something out of this read.  I found myself jotting down quotes and passages as I went along just because they were so inspiring and really motivating.  So much so that when I finished the book last night, I decided I was going to finally bite the bullet and sign up for a half marathon.  Philly Love Run, I’m coming for you.

image2I get asked often questions about running especially by people who are just starting out and I’m always more than happy to answer, so while I’m getting my training for the half done, I’m going to be putting together a series of Running 101 posts to help new and experienced runners alike.

Today’s topic: Getting Started.

By far the hardest part about running is starting.  When I first started, I had only ever run in school when we had our mandatory mile.  In middle school, I would get wicked heel spurs and find any way I could to get out of running.  It never worked and I always would get stuck plodding around the track for some laps while my lungs burned and I cursed the day the mile was ever invented.

Enter college.  I went to the gym 4-5 times a week, but refused to run.  The memories of gasping for air, beet red faces, and excruciating boredom kept me from running at all.  After awhile, I had been elliptical-ing and working on my cardio endurance and getting pretty bored with just biking and walking, so I decided I would give a run a go.  I saddled up onto the treadmill and picked a song to run along with.  I ran and ran and hated every second of it.  After I was sure at least 30 minutes had passed I pressed stop only to be met by a flashing red workout summary that totaled my distance at .6 of a mile.  Awesome.  I was disheartened to say the least and decided that I wasn’t a runner and this wasn’t for me.

A couple weeks later, I went and tried again.  And you know what?  It wasn’t nearly as bad and I actually finished a full mile.  Was I going at a snails pace?  Probably slower to be honest, but I had done it.  And I haven’t stopped since.

That first run is a right of passage.  I’m going to be the first to tell you, it’s probably not going to be that fun.  It’s probably going to suck.  But I assure you any run from there on out will be a whole heck of a lot easier.  My advice: walk where you want to run a couple times first.  If you really like a particular trail, walk around it a couple times and then one day, let it all go and run it.  You know what’s there and what you’re going to run in to, but it’s such a different experience when you run past it all.


Tips for just starting out:

  • Pace yourself.  This is not a race, this is just life.  You don’t have to go as fast as you can.  Pick a pace that if comfortable and conversational.  If you can’t talk a little bit while you’re running, you’re going to burn out way more quickly than you want to.
  • Breathe.  This is the most important thing you can do.
  • Visualize something awesome.  Pretend you’re running through a field of daisies, pretend your running from a herd of zombies, pretend you’re running to catch something in front of you.  Giving your mind a task keeps you focused on something other than what you’re doing.
  • Make small goals.  See that lightpost up there? You only have to run that far.  Oh, that felt good and you want to keep going?  Why don’t you go to that tree.  It sounds silly, but it works, I promise
  • Think about time in a useful way.  20 minutes may seem like such a daunting amount of time to run for, but think about how short of an amount of time that is compared to everything else you do.  I bet it’s shorter than your commute.  I bet it’s shorter than how long it takes you to make dinner.  I bet it’s shorter than how long it takes you to get up and get ready in the morning.  You can run for 20 minutes.
  • Remember, you don’t have to run the whole time.  If you’re just starting out, you probably don’t have the cardiovascular strength to keep continuously running and that’s okay.  Take a breather when you need it, but vow to keep moving.  A great way to start is to alternate intervals of running and walking.  Run for 3 minutes, walk for 2, run for 3 minutes, walk for 2.  Then in a couple runs go for 4 minutes running, 1 minute walking.  Eventually, you’ll be able to run non-stop like it’s no big thing.

You can do it if you decide you want to.  Lace up your shoes and get out there because why not?

Workout: Run/Walk for 20 minutes in an area you love.


running on tired legs

This workout week has been something.  I took Saturday as my rest day this week, but still ended up walking a couple miles at my boyfriend’s jiu jitsu tournament because the campus where it took place was beyond beautiful.  Why is it that scenery plays such a large part of motivation to get moving?  In between his competitions, I would plug in my headphones and just go for a walk among the rolling hills.  It was the most serene feeling in the world and much more enjoyable than just sitting on my butt waiting.


The campus sat on a hill overlooking this bay and I just couldn’t get over it.  The next day, I was feeling rejuvenated from my rest and decided to go for a run.  7 miles later I felt on top of the world.  I hadn’t meant to go that far, but I was just wrapped up in the good feelings and that was that.  Well, not exactly that because I had my BBG Philly Meetup to get my butt to!  I am loving these meetups.  Some of these girls are the most inspiring, incredible, kind girls I’ve ever had the chance to meet, so when they had a redo of last weeks’ snowed out get together, I jumped at the chance.  The workout was 30 whole minutes of awesome death.  My legs were feeling it in the best possible way and even more so the next day.  I took the opportunity to sooth my legs by just focusing on my arms on Monday, but by Tuesday I was done.


I woke up on Tuesday and I just said “Nope.” and turned around and crawled into bed.  My legs were tired.  My arms were tired.  My abs were tired.  Working out just didn’t seem to be in the cards.

Fast forward a couple hours later and my lunch break was quickly approaching and all that was on my mind was “Maybe I could just hop over to the gym for a quick run”.  I work from home, so when I decided to take lunch, I changed into my workout gear and headed for the door.

The run felt amazing.  I felt strong and powerful and speedy to boot.  Then I got to thinking.  Sometimes it’s important to train on tired legs, especially if you’re training to run further distances and for longer periods of time.  You need to get used to that feeling of your legs and lungs being heavy and really working to produce each step.  The last thing you want is for this feeling to be unfamiliar when you need it most.

When you’re training for something, you’re often working your body in a million different ways and you can’t expect to be on your A game every single time you go out there.  But it’s these tired workouts that change us.  The ones that you don’t really want to do, but you do anyway and you walk away feeling like you’ve overcome everything.  You talk back to that voice in your head saying “just quit already” and you say, “I’ve got this”.

More than a physical obstacle, running on tired legs is in a whole nother mental ballpark.  Working out can be mentally challenging in a lot of ways.  I tend to workout alone so a lot of my brain power is spent motivating myself to keep going, telling myself I can do it, and convincing my brain that what I’m doing really isn’t all that crazy.  Training your mind is just as important as training your body if you truly want to be successful.

All this being said, sometimes it’s important to take it easy because injuries are a very real thing.  But, if you want to challenge yourself every now and again, don’t sell yourself short.  Pick up those tired legs and move em a little bit and show that voice in your head who’s boss.