Going the Distance: Learning to Love Running

10 Oct

 

Friend Miki Stevens trainning for her next big race

I can’t pinpoint the exact the moment that running went from something I forced myself to do for exercise, to something I loved. I can; however, remember very clearly what it felt like during my first mile. It was the longest fifteen minutes of my life. Slowly but surely, though, I grew to love running. Reflecting back, there were very specific things I did to become a runner.

Set measurable goals

It helps to have a simple and measurable goal when you start, possibly one that combines walking and running. Be specific. For example, alternate running and walking for a total of twenty minutes. It’s easy to think that you have failed when you are only able to run for a few minutes without getting winded. However, if you are not a runner, this isn’t that uncommon. I’ve come across many people who are extremely fit and active, yet struggle when it comes to running. When you first set out, try incorporating intervals of running and walking into your workout. Providing your body with short breaks will refresh you and keep you motivated. Attempting to run long distances when you begin will likely wear you out and discourage you from continuing to run.  Each day you run, attempt to go just a bit longer or just a bit faster. Invest in a gps-enabled watch and chart your times and miles each day. Keeping a log will allow you to review your progress. Slowly you will improve your running ability and you will be able to gauge how far you’ve come. Don’t forget to revise your goals over time. As running becomes easier, add miles and/or try to improve your speed. Also, you can always incorporate hills which will make for great endurance training.

Listen to your body

There are times when you will hit the road and feel completely motivated. It’s like with life, some days you are “on” and some days you’re not. Follow the rhythms of your body. Make every attempt to get out and run, even when you are tired. Odds are that if you take the time to strap on your shoes, you will find the motivation to follow through with your run. Getting out the door is the hardest part! However, if your body really feels “off,” give yourself permission to relax your pace, or even walk a little bit more. Listening to your body will help prevent injury and keep you motivated. Always remember to monitor yourself, and try to have more “on” days than “off” days.

Seek support

The best way to enjoy running is to learn about it. I would suggest reading other runners’ success stories. It’s motivating to read about people’s personal journeys and transformation into runners. Check out books from the library written by runners; they can serve as inspiration. You might also join a local running club, subscribe to runners’ blogs, or enlist the support of those you know. Tell people you have running goals and ask them to hold you accountable. Encourage others to inquire about your progress.  Take advantage of the free classes many of the sports stores offer around town and definitely get to know the people at your local running store. They are excellent motivators, and always have good information to share.

Explore a variety of courses

To me, it’s interesting how every person is different in where they like to run. Personally, my passion is trail running. Being outdoors allows me to gain perspective and relax. For some, they would rather run indoors on the treadmill while others prefer the running paths near their home. For beginning runners, it’s important to try a variety of locations as you will naturally be drawn to some more than others. For more seasoned runners, it is advantageous to do some running in all types of terrain. The change in location helps strengthen your overall running abilities. Finally, it is important to incorporate other fitness interests with running. Activities such as pilates and yoga are excellent ways to strengthen your core, which will make running an easier activity.

Participate in Races

Racing is a valuable tool to improve your skills. When I say race, I don’t mean win. I simply mean to participate. Participation in races does several things for you. Most importantly, it connects you with motivating people who share a common interest. Even if you simply show up and walk the race course, you’ve come a long way in challenging yourself to improve. Racing for those who are striving to become better also adds an element of challenge. Whether you are racing against the ten-year-old next to you or the front runner in the group, being in a race environment stimulates you with amazing positive energy and it pushes you to do better.

Most importantly, remember that running well is something that takes time. Whenever you change your routine or embark on a new challenge it requires a period of adjustment. Don’t give up quickly. The more you practice running, the better you get at it; and the better you get, the more your crave it. One day, you just might turn around to find it’s something you can’t live without.

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4 Responses to “Going the Distance: Learning to Love Running”

  1. Katherine Sam October 10, 2011 at 3:29 pm #

    Thanks, Kim! Totally needed to hear this today!

  2. Sonal October 10, 2011 at 4:39 pm #

    Hi Kim,
    I am Rona’s neighbor [not sure if you remember me] and enjoy reading your blog. Its very motivating to me since I am trying to get back to a healthy me. I work out at least 3-4 days a week but running is my weakness. I get winded very quickly and feel discouraged. But I am going to follow your tips and work at it. It was very reassuring to hear that you did not enjoy running at first and now do. That’s where I am right now.

    • The Modern Me October 10, 2011 at 10:58 pm #

      Of course I remember you! I am really glad you enjoyed it! Don’t get discouraged running, it is very difficult at first. Even when you are a seasoned runner, if you take any length of time off it is hard to get going again. Don’t be afraid to run/walk. I found this really helpful in the beginning. I could make it around the block but then I felt like stopping, so I began power walking for five minutes in between laps. Another idea for you, hit the track at a local high school, run the straight aways and walk the corners. This way you can build up your endurance. Keep up the good work Sonal!

  3. Andrea Fuqua October 11, 2011 at 2:46 pm #

    Great post Kim!!! Good tips for peepes like me who dont like to run! Keep it up!

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