How to start (or restart) running.

So scared before my first 5k.
My 2011 running career lasted from January through June, during which I completed 5ks and 10ks. Amazing! I lost 15 pounds, I felt great for my wedding, I grew more comfortable in my clothes. But since June, I haven't exercised much at all.

Last week I got some blood work back and it said I have high triglycerides. This pissed me off. I eat YOGURT for lunch, people. I walk everywhere. And yet there it was, on the paper: high triglycerides. "Try exercising," it said. Blarg.

Coincidentally, I saw Kelley this week and she proclaimed her intention to run a half marathon in the spring. "Crap," I thought to myself. "That's on my life list AND my blood is bad. I guess I'm doing this."

So I made a running plan in a google doc based on a 10k schedule to get me back into the swing of the things. I hit the treadmill on Wednesday night for the first time since June and promptly got angry with myself. I am slow. Slooooow. Also, I can't run without walking. I need to take breaks. And I need a lower incline than I used to.

Do you know how annoying that is? To have put in 6 months of running this year, then taken a break, and now to find myself back at the starting point?

And yet this is the lesson of running. That it is HARD. That you should use whatever motivation you can scrounge up to make it out the door with your sneakers on. Leave the treadmill at 0% incline. Take walking breaks. Listen to music if it helps. Sometimes I think I'm not *really* running if I do those things. But that's bull.

Running humbles me. It's one of the toughest things I've ever tried in my life; it challenges my strength, my mental state and my belief in myself. I think this is why so many people have running goals on their Life Lists; because they sense it's going to break them... and then make them stronger.

Want to get started? Here's how:
1. Pick a goal
2. Make/find a running schedule
3. Go shopping for running clothes

Does that last one sound rude? Too bad. Because when you agree to haul your jiggling, cookie-filled self down the streets of Brooklyn at a given pace, you're facing discomfort. Not only does your body not feel like a runner, but you know your Converse don't make you look like a runner either. And so I say to you, if you are thinking about running, waltz into a sporting goods store and buy a pair of pants and some sneakers. There is something to be said for looking the part and if you've never been the athletic type, you're going to need a wardrobe shift to change the image you have of yourself.

As for the running schedule, I can highly recommend Couch to 5k as a beginner's program or the Hal Higdon 5k plan (he also has plans for other distances).

And as for the running goal? Well, I might have a suggestion for that. On Thursday afternoon, I accidentally organized a team of people to run the NYC half marathon in March 2012. Oops! We're calling it Runners for Reading - we'll be a team of technologists and readers who run the 13.1 miles to raise money to buy Kindles for a school in NYC. Because KIDS NEED TO READ!

Want to be part of our group? We would seriously love it. Check out our Twitter page for updates and we'll have a full site up and running soon. Start planning your trip to New York and let me know if you need somewhere to stay. Maybe I can help.

If you've been looking for an opportunity to run, then you should interpret this post as fate. And you should know one more thing:

You Can Do It. I seriously mean it.


yitznewton said...

Dude. I ran for about 6 months in 2009, did a 5k (27:03), and was preparing for a second when I got injured. I think you just prodded me to get going again... /follow @Runners For Reading

yitznewton said...

(and it wasn't a running injury per se, but a miss-the-sidewalk-crack-hidden-under-snow-fall-and-bruise-your-ribs-and-knee injury)

Anonymous said...

Jen -- this post is just what I needed. I too ran about half this year and then just ground to a halt. And I pulled out all my running gear last night to inspire a run this morn, but left it all sitting there when I awoke to cold rain. This post is a perfectly timed kick in the butt. Thank you! I'm not sure we officially met at Camp Mighty, but I feel like we did in spirit because I saw your cute face all over the place. :)wendy ellington (Team 3)