Sunday, September 21, 2014
Running...some suggestions for getting started and keeping it going
I started running maybe a year and a half ago. For several months, I had been walking around my neighborhood each evening. One day, I just started running instead. I still do a combination of walking and running, as this has allowed me to keep going and gradually improve my endurance, distance, and speed.
The hardest thing most days is just getting out the door. When I started walking regularly a couple of years ago, I was trying to interrupt my pattern of veg-ing out on the couch every evening, which almost always led to mindless snacking while I read my book or watched the Red Sox with my husband.
So, to get myself out the door, I'd promise myself I could have that snack when I returned from my walk. And it's like magic. Rarely do you even want it by the time you get back.
Other times, I'd tell myself, "You only have to go one time around the neighborhood." But then, once you get out there, usually, you keep going.
Now that I run, I love the above meme (and many variations on it that I've seen), and it's often my mantra when I get going. Just get through the first mile, and it generally gets a lot better as you go.
So, I guess that makes Rule 1--lie to yourself/trick yourself, and Rule 2--keep going/don't give up too soon.
Rule 3--listen to music. (Not a hard and fast rule, as every once in awhile, it's nice to just run with no accompaniment except your own breathing and the occasional bird flying by. But most of the time, music makes it go by faster.) One of these days, I'll share what I've been listening to...for awhile my favorite was the Weather Girls singing "It's Raining Men." Recently, I've been playing Old Crow Medicine Show and Paul Thorn tunes over and over again. Don't ask.
Rule 4--you can zone out to some degree, but you've also got to stay alert, especially if you've got your ear buds in and the music turned way up. People and dogs and cars and birds and lots of other things come out of nowhere. So, keep your eyes open and be safe!
Rule 5--run no matter what. No excuses. It's been so hot this summer, but I've still gone out almost every evening, rain or shine. Or go in the morning if that's your thing. (Personally, I only drink coffee first thing in the morning, and it's just not something I'm ready to change.) But get out there. The beauty of having stuck with it all summer is now it's fall. It's amazing how much faster and farther you can run when you start to feel a little coolness in the air.
Rule 6--you don't have to kill yourself. I take off every Tuesday because I have choir practice. I usually go out most other days. But every day doesn't have to be your fastest and your farthest. I gauge this on how I feel, and it's worked well. But there is all sorts of guidance out there if you want a running plan--couch to 5K or whatever. It's about having fun and feeling good, so push yourself, but don't go crazy.
Rule 7--keep track. I use the Map My Run app, and once I figured out a few of its quirks and got it synced up with my music, it worked great. Now that I've been using it for awhile, it's great to look back at how far I've come. A year ago this time, I was running a 36-minute 5K (3.1 miles). Yesterday, I did it in 34 and a half minutes. Progress.
If you're social, find a running buddy. If you're more of an introvert like me, just get out there and let your mind wander. It's heavenly, really. Set some goals. Early on, I signed up for a few 5Ks, and now I'm looking for a 10K to do. Next year, a half marathon, for sure! I'll never be super fast, but I'm a whole lot faster than the couch potato I used to be. So, that's something.
I never thought I would be a runner. Give it a try. You might be as pleasantly surprised as I have been.