My mom is a great runner. She’s the kind of person who has already been running for an hour before most of us wake up. My brother has always been really athletic as well, playing tennis for hours every day and teaching himself how to snowboard and water-ski. I was always more of a “stay inside and read” kid. When my family was hiking in Peru, it was me and my dad who were red-faced and winded, while my mom and brother scurried to the top like mountain goats.
Although I often move too quickly (which has resulted in breaking not one, but two “indestructible” iPhone cases), I’ve always been slow when it comes to gross motor movements. When I was little, I was described as having a very “sturdy” frame, and legs “strong as tree trunks” so I never exactly thought of myself as lithe or gazelle-like. It’s no wonder running never struck my fancy, but it IS a wonder that I became interested in running later in life.
HERE’S HOW I LEARNED TO RUN:
- STUCK TO A TIME FRAME – I started by being outside for 20 minutes, twice a week. I gave myself permission to do any combination of running and walking in that time (starting with 3 minutes running, 2 minutes walking). Each week, I increased the time – first to 25 minutes, and then to 30. I measured success as simply being outside in the fresh air for that amount of time.
- ESTABLISHED A ROUTE – After a month, I shifted my focus from minutes to distance. I stuck to a particular 5km route because NOT thinking about where I was going helped me lose track of time (other people would find this boring – so it just depends on your personality). I still did a combination of running and walking until it became easier to run the whole time.
- GOT THE GOODS – I went to a running store that checked my gait and bought the sneakers they suggested (and they did make a big difference). I also purchased running socks to prevent blisters, and bought a device that tracked my distance. This was a GAME CHANGER; all of a sudden, every step I took was measured (and mattered!). This was definitely why I was able to make the leap from 5 to 10km, and then to a half marathon. Also, after experiencing some major IT band pain during a race, I got into the habit of rolling after each run using a foam roller like this one. All of the running “stuff” helped me feel legit; I started to think of myself as a runner.
- WENT CANADIAN – I switched my device to measure in kilometers instead of miles and I immediately felt like an Olympian. For me, it’s all about the number getting bigger – I tend to feel like an extra kilometer is doable, whereas an extra mile is not.
- THE BUDDY SYSTEM – At first, I ran alone because it stressed me out imagining running with someone who was in better shape than me. Once I felt more confident, having a running parter was a great way to stick to a training schedule (even if we just drove to the trail together, but didn’t actually run “together”).
Even though I forced running on myself in the beginning, I have come to truly love it. It gives me sense of clarity and that whole “runner’s high” thing. Unfortunately, it sometimes causes pain in my body. When this happens, I take it as a message – maybe I need to stretch more, strengthen a different muscle group, or rest. When it comes to running, I’ve had to learn the difference between “pushing myself” and “hurting myself,” and to listen to my body.
Thanks for reading, and if you are someone who is brand new to running, I hope this helps!