Melanie's Story & Defining Moment
Several years ago I was listening to my husband and his running buddy talk about their upcoming race. Incredulously, I thought, “They really enjoy running and racing!”
Then I thought of Jr. High school gym class: the ugly one piece gym suit, jumping jacks, square dancing and running. I hated all of it, especially the running. Running always made me feel slow and clumpy. And I invariably got that painful stitch in my side.
Interrupting the “guy talk,” I said, "I wonder if I could run."
Probably based on the fact that I had recently stopped nursing our youngest child and was still carrying quite a bit of “pregnancy fluff” my husband answered, "You're not built for speed. You're built for comfort."
We all laughed but secretly I took that innocent response from my husband as my personal challenge. I thought, “I’ll get some cute running shorts and an industrial strength running bra and when no one’s watching, I’ll run.”
That was over a decade ago and with several 5 k’s, a 10k and a half marathon later, I have to agree with my husband. I am not built for speed. In fact, I’m pretty happy when I am running a consistent 10 minute mile. But I disagree with the “built for comfort” part; I have discovered that I am built for endurance and I actually enjoy running several miles each week.
Melanie the Runner
So how did I go from hating running to running six days a week and loving it?
On my daily walks I began doing a little running. Very little. I walked a little and ran a little. Gradually I began to run a little more and walk a little less. I wore a stop watch and began timing the walk part and the run part. I remember the day I could run for 3 minutes without stopping! And then 3 MILES! Yeah...baby.
The Runner in YOU!
Spring is just around the bend and now is the time we women usually start trying to lose a few pounds and shape up for the summer. Running is a great way to get in shape fast, and if you have always wondered if you could be a runner, the answer is, “Yes!” If, that is, you are in overall good health, then there is probably no reason you cannot run.(And this is where I should probably say, check with your doctor before beginning a new exercise plan.)
Baby Steps~A Starting Point
The number one mistake of a beginning runner is starting too fast. Don’t try to sprint. You are not in a race. Start by walking 10 minutes at a comfortable pace to warm up.
Then run a minute or two. Or run from one mailbox to another, then walk for a while, and repeat.
This is how I began all those years ago. In fact I called myself a “mailbox runner.” Gradually over a few days time, decrease the minutes you walk and increase the minutes you run.
Don’t worry about how you breathe, just breathe. It will get easier as you continue your running routine.
Helpful Tips on Form
- Swing arms forward and back not across the body.
- Run tall. Any lean in your stride should start from the ankle, not your waist.
- Relax your shoulders. Hunching eats up energy.
- Land lightly to reduce bounce in your stride.
- Wear shoes designed for running, not for playing tennis, and not those “shape-up" type shoes. You will most likely need to go up a ½ size or more in a running shoe.
- While it is not necessary to look cute while running, I find it makes it more enjoyable!
- You will need a running bra and running clothing that wicks away the sweat. Target and Marshall’s are good for finding inexpensive running shorts, bras and tops.
- Runner's World is a great site for finding articles for beginners.
- You can always visit my running blog See My Mom Run for a little inspiration and motivation to run your race with endurance!
Starting a new fitness plan is a good time to think about healthy eating. Three do-able changes that anyone can easily incorporate are:
- Increase fiber intake so that you are consuming 25 grams per day.
- Drink 16 ounces of water within a half hour of waking.
- Stop eating at least 3 hours before bedtime.