I did it!
Yesterday I reached my first running goal, which was to run 20 minutes without stopping. I actually ran for 23 minutes. I was amazed and thrilled. I didn’t think I’d reach my goal so soon.
Running has never been easy for me. My first experience with running was in school, when my PE teachers would make us run around the track. I hated it. It was hard, I wasn’t good at it, and I dreaded doing it. After graduating from high school, I happily left running behind.
In college, I discovered all sorts of fun physical education classes, such as swimming, horseback riding, rock climbing, ballroom and folk/square dance, and Project Adventure, a ropes course. I loved all my college PE classes. But I still had no desire to run.
Later on, I was going through a difficult time in my life, and I was inspired to start running and weight training at home. I had done weight training before, but I’d never really run. I did a run/walk program, and I vaguely remember working my way from run three minutes/walk one to running 20 minutes straight. I ran around and around in my secluded flat yard, and I enjoyed it even though it was hard.
It definitely helped me feel better, and I ended up in the best physical condition I’d ever been in. But over time I relaxed my work out regimen and stopped running for quite a few years.
Ready to Run Again
My decision to start again was prompted by my desire to get in better shape, feel better, and have more energy. Plus I have a few pounds to lose, and just eating low carb has only gotten me so far.
I started running in December before Christmas. My intention was to run three times a week, but in actuality it’s ranged from once a week to twice a week for the most part. I may have run three times in one week recently. I also took a long break for a bad stomach bug we came down with.
Shortly after I started my running, I decided to sign up for my first race! That’s been a fun motivator, along with my supportive husband, parents, and friends who’ve been cheering me on.
My goal is to try to run three times a week until the 5k, which is later this month on Pi Day. I know I won’t be able to run the whole thing without stopping. My goal is to do my best and run as much as I can. I am really happy about it.
Starting running has had so many benefits. I feel great after I run, physically and mentally. I feel glad for meeting my goal. I feel good knowing I’m valuing my health in a tangible way. And it’s a great feeling to make real, noticeable improvements in my fitness. It’s kind of magical how our bodies change through exercise.
After Googling beginner running plans, I started with five intervals of run three minutes, walk one. Then I moved to four 4/1’s. Then I made the jump to three 6/1’s, and then a breakthrough to running 10 minutes, walk one, run 13 minutes… ! That surprised me. After I did that, I was just hoping I’d be able to do it again. I didn’t want to go backwards.
Last weekend I was visiting my Mom when I managed to do it a second time. For some reason it was harder run for me, in spite of the fact that she lives in a totally flat area, whereas my neighborhood is a little hilly.
I have noticed that some days it’s harder, and some days it’s a little easier, and I’m not sure why that is. I assumed it had to do with my sleep and recent eating, but I’m not so sure.
The run on Saturday was extra special for me, because my daughter Lily ran with me for the first time. That was a lot of fun, and interesting to see how different her running was from mine.
She would run at my pace sometimes, then stop to check out something on the ground… and then catch up and sprint past me, and ask me all sorts of questions that I wasn’t sure I had the breath to answer. And then after a while she was ready to stop, and I kept going.
At some point she scratched the message, “I can do it!” into the sandy road. I was so happy to read that, for her, and also for me.
At the end of the run, she was my teacher, and she led me through some stretching and breathing exercises that she learned in her PE class, which is much better than the the ones I had, for sure.
It was great, especially when we lay down and did savasana, at first looking up at the blue clouded sky, cooling wind on hot faces, and then closing our eyes and seeing swirling red, with tiny darker red dots. I told Lily I thought it was blood flowing through our capillaries.
Yesterday I was hoping I could do it again, the run ten minutes, run thirteen minutes, although I’d slept poorly the night before and felt dehydrated from inadequate water intake.
I set out from my house, and it felt pretty okay. Luckily I’ve planned my course to start out with a downhill to get me going.
One of the highlights early on was spotting Lily on the playground as I ran by the school. Her face lit up, and we waved at each other, and I blew her a kiss. With a final glance back and a wave goodbye, I kept on running.
When I reached ten minutes, I felt like I could keep going, so I did. And at 15, I still felt like I could keep going, so I decided to try for 20. When I got close to 20, I was going downhill, so I just kept going after that, until I decided to stop at 23 minutes.
I am so happy and can hardly believe I ran for more than 20 minutes straight. Woohoo! I’ve always felt like a non-runner at heart, but I can do it. I really can. I can start small and build up.
I am surprised at how quickly I reached my 20-minute goal, especially since I wasn’t running three, or even two times a week. But I do think this may have been a good thing, because it has allowed my body to recover better before running again.
I definitely want to avoid getting injured if I possibly can. My next goal is 30 minutes.
As I began my recent running journey, I read a couple of good books about it.
One was called Running With Curves by Jill Angie. This was really encouraging and had a lot of good tips for beginners. One helpful tip she gave was to point out the difference between discomfort and pain that you need to pay attention to. Although of course you should trust your gut about this, just because you have some minor weird feeling doesn’t mean you need to stop.
The other book was Eat and Run: My Unlikely Journey to Ultramarathon Greatness by Scott Jurek and Steve Friedman. This was the most interesting book I’ve read in a while. It is the autobiography of Scott Jurek, who is an ultramarathon runner. (I didn’t even know what ultramarathons were before reading this book. Anyone up for a 50- or 100-mile race?)
In the book he talks about his childhood, in which he had to take on a lot of responsibility early on due to his mother’s MS, and his wild and crazy best friend Dusty, and how he got into vegetarianism for better health. It has running tips and recipes and a lot of asking why. It was very good.
How I Started
For how-to’s, I just did a little Googling for beginner running plans, and even though they’re a little different, the basic idea is the same, start small with run/walk and gradually increase your running. Basically I just moved up by going longer if I felt like it that day.
For supplies, I had my old “tennis” shoes and clothes that would work, but I needed a way to carry my phone without having to hold it, so I bought a FlipBelt , which works well. I also bought a digital watch so I could time my intervals.
I also ended up trying out the free Runkeeper app for my phone. At first I couldn’t get it to work, but I finally changed a GPS setting on my phone which made it work. It’s interesting to see my pace, and it’s an easy way to track my running.
It hasn’t been easy. I encourage myself a lot in my mind. At first when I’d get to the really hard parts, I would remind myself that I’ve given birth twice, so I can do this! I’m sure I’ll use that one again.
At first I felt a little self-conscious about running in public, but I’ve pretty well gotten over that. I know that others really don’t care and are focused on their own lives.
And people are nice. Yesterday an older man I passed made an encouraging remark, and many people share friendly smiles as I pass them walking their dogs.
I run slowly. And that’s okay. Sometimes I consciously try to run as slow as I can so that I can run as long as I can without stopping.
And some days are harder than others, but they’re still valuable. They’re still taking me forward.
I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I kind of love it. I hope it stays that way.
If you’re thinking of starting running, I highly recommend it. If I can do it, you can do it!
I can do things I didn’t think I could do.
I can do things that are hard.
One step, and then another, and just keeping on going will take me places.
How are you doing things you didn’t think you could do? I’d love to hear about it. And if you run or are thinking about starting, please tell me in the comments. <3