*Disclaimer*: I am not a certified physician; all of my information comes from my experiences unless otherwise cited.
I’ve been wanting to do a blog post about running for awhile now, but I wasn’t exactly sure how to start. Running has had such varying influence on my life (mostly good!), so I really want to illustrate how my view of running has changed over the last few years. I’ll be splitting this post into two sections: first, my running experience in chronological order; and second, my tips on how to start/approach running if you want to start.
Part I: My Running Experience
Unfortunately, my running career started out with bad intentions. I would say, about three or four years ago I started running because I was struggling with my body image and saw it as a way to lose weight. I would literally just run on the treadmill for 4 or 5 miles (so boring!), and then go do some other exercise. Then, I got really into volleyball (like, OBSESSED, looking back it was kind of bad, although I did learn valuable lessons and have some amazing experiences as well), and kind of stopped running for awhile. Oh, I remember I did the Color Run around this time for fun with my Aunt Julie, and it was a blast! I think it was my first race ever. Wow. Time flies, am I right?
Middle school me omg
After that, I kind of just ran on and off – never investing in running shoes or really setting any goals. As I said, I was really into volleyball at that time. Also, during the summer of 2015 I discovered HIIT workouts and started doing those for workouts, which I still do but not quite as much. I also started to get in the mindset of running being bad because I kept seeing all of these people on social media saying running didn’t make them fit, but HIIT or strength training did. Now, I see that just because something works for some people doesn’t mean it works for everyone. I also realize that running, for me, isn’t totally about fitness, but I’ll get into that later.
During the fall of 2015, I started trail running with my Aunt Julie (yes the same one from the Color Run) once a week. It was something totally new to us, and I still love the challenging trails and being out in nature. We even did a biathlon together in September 2015, for which I did NOT train for the bicycling part at all and really should’ve. I still wasn’t wearing actual running shoes at this time, too. Once we started focusing more on trail, Julie, the wonderful soul she is, brought me to our local running store and bought a proper pair of trail shoes for me. I still wear them, and they’re falling apart, oops. The first trail race we did together was The Skippo 10k in November, and then we did the Hot Chocolate 15k (not trail) in December 2015 because it looked fun and we both love chocolate! Here’s a low-quality photo of us before the race:
I discovered that it’s really great to have someone to run with. We ran in the snow, we ran in the heat, heck, we ran in a storm at 5:30 a.m. before my flight to Australia later in the day. I definitely wouldn’t have gone trail running those days without her. Also, running became a habit, and I looked forward to talking to Julie during our runs and exploring new trails. When it was light out later, we would sometimes trail run Friday and Sunday.
Fast-forward to this past summer of 2016, and I went to stay with my Aunt Diane and Uncle Rick in Boulder for a little over 2 weeks. I love love love visiting them and Colorado, and every summer I go there I come back refreshed and inspired. My cousin’s fiancee ran her first half-marathon in Estes Park while I was there, and I thought to myself, “I could do that!”. I found a half marathon in mid-October, signed up online, and asked Diane how to get started (she’s ran marathons, half-marathons, and completed triathlons). She gave me a training plan (email or message me if you want to know the specific training plan I followed), and also a lot of much-needed encouragement. I had a goal for ME, and I was excited and nervous and determined to reach it.
^Me + Diane being cute at Rocky Mtn. National Park^
I went back home at the end of the visit, and did that training to the best of my ability. I also bought a pair of running shoes because I knew I’d be doing a lot of miles (well, a lot for me). Even though some days I didn’t even want to walk out the door, I was committed to my goal and stuck to the schedule (except when I got sick for a few days). I also did a short 4-mile (and SUPER muddy and slippery) trail run with Julie in September. Something about having a constant running schedule provided stability and stress relief during those first few months of Junior year. Along the way, learned a lot about consistency and perseverance when pursuing a goal. I even got my dad to start running, and we did a St. Jude’s 5k in September together, and he then signed up for the Rock ‘n Roll 5K. When October came, I was ready.
I finished my first half marathon on October 16, 2016, at the Rock ‘n Roll St. Louis Half Marathon. My time was 1:59:48 – right under 2 hours. I was ecstatic. I also got third in my division!
Here’s me after the race:
I’d have to say that crossing that finish line was one of the best moments of my life. All my hard work had paid off, and I felt amazing. I already wanted to do it again.
Since then I’ve ran:
Quivering Quads II 13k trail race (1 week after the half marathon!)
Skippo 10k trail race (round 2 haha)
Turkey Trot 5k
Queeny Park 3-mile (part of Snowball Race Series)
Hot Chocolate 15k (ran 8:43/mile which was faster than I thought I would run!)
I’m training for a half marathon in late January (tentatively) and one in April now, and I’ve never loved to run more.
Part II: How to Start Running, and not Hate it in the Process
- Set a goal. And don’t make it super easy – you want to challenge yourself. But also make it attainable so you won’t get discouraged and give up. Just started running? Maybe sign up for a 5k in two or three months. Already did that? How about a 10k then.
- Make a plan. Without a plan, you’ll never reach your goal. Plain and simple. There’s tons of online training plans for various distances, or you can ask at your local running store and I’m sure they’d be happy to help or offer training programs.
- BUY A PAIR OF RUNNING SHOES. Get a pair of running socks while you’re at it, too, because I was unaware that they existed before this fall and struggled through many preventable blisters. If you’ve never bought running shoes before, make sure to go to your local running store (I like Fleet Feet) and ask for a fitting. I’ve found that the people there are always so helpful and informative.
- If possible, find a running partner. For trail running, I always run with Julie because then I know I won’t bail and it’s more fun. However, I do not train with anyone for road races, because I personally like to have that alone time and work on improving my individual pace.
- Keep a running log. I’ve writen down all my runs (and other workouts) since August, and it’s so amazing to look back at all the miles I’ve done and how I’ve improved. Writing your runs down also keeps you accountable – looking at a blank log is no fun.
- Don’t overdo it. If you’re feeling really sick or tired one day, it’s okay to skip a run. Don’t beat yourself up over it, but don’t make a habit of it either.
- Find someone who supports you. For me, I talk to my Aunt Diane on the phone almost every week, and in addition to many other topics, we talk about running. She’s also training for a half marathon, so we encourage each other.
- Get a rockin’ running playlist. I know some people don’t like listening to music while running, but music pumps me up and makes those long runs go faster for me.
- Cross-train. Please do some other kinds of exercise besides just running. Whether it’s yoga, weight-lifting, Pilates, you name it – it will help prevent overuse injuries.
- Fuel your runs correctly. There’s tons of information about running nutrition on http://www.runnersworld.com/
- Have fun! Run because you love it and not simply for fitness<3
Do you have any tips for running? Let me know in the comments!