Prepare to have your mind blown: I’m going to tell you my secrets to starting running.
Go outside and RUN! LOL!
It’s that easy.
Except it is and it isn’t. I know, that was super snarky and snotty of me and I hate those people who say things like, “Just get off the couch and do it.” To a certain degree, there is truth in that. That said, the hardest steps for me to take are the first ones that lead me to my workout clothes. After that, the wheels are in motion and I can get going, but actually getting off the couch and into the running clothes then outside is sometimes the most difficult part of the whole run.
But I would never say it’s that easy. The mental hurdles are often the most difficult to overcome.
Why I started running:
Running always seemed so romantic to me. REAL athletes are runners, in my mind. Like, reading is the gateway to pretty much any knowledge, running seems the same in the exercise world. If you can run, anything else is possible. Running seems primal, animal, at the root of our humanity. We are meant to run and experience the runner’s high, the feeling of our body in motion, the feeling of giving our all. Not experiencing that seemed to me a little bit like not experiencing something that is inborn in us. Like not traveling, or graduating from college. It just seemed like one of those things I was supposed to do as a part of being human, otherwise I was going to be disappointed in myself as an old lady. (I’m telling you, that old lady -the one who shares my name- the one who lurks in my future bossing me around- she’s a real toughie and is always harping on me to take better care of myself so she can enjoy her sunset years. Like it’s all about her… It is. LOL!)
I flirted with running as a kid. I looked at runners and thought that if I could do that, I would be a real badass. Running takes dedication, endurance and strength, though, so I didn’t believe I was going to be able to do it. At age 15, after a couple of laps around the block dressed in my finest summer shorts with long johns underneath paired with supportive Keds, I gave up. Too sweaty, too hard, not me.
A few years ago, Bradley started running and I started power walking. As he became a more capable runner I started wondering what it would be like to run, better yet, what it would be like to run with my husband. To become one of those couples. It seemed like fun. But once again, I pushed it off. I was a walker. Not a runner. I knew this.
Then I saw Katie Foster from Runs For Cookies. She was a heavy girl who started running and lost a bunch of weight, going from the 250’s to the 130’s in a year! She started eating right, but with the running, she was also able to have a treat every day that made her feel like she hadn’t given all of the ‘good’ stuff up. She didn’t believe in a diet, rather using self control. She said I shouldn’t eliminate the things I enjoy unless I was planning to do that forever. Instead I should make calorie allowances for them. I realized I was more than willing to make that deal with myself- as long as I was committed to exercise, I could still eat things like ice cream! Sign me up!
After I ‘met’ Katie, I started researching running. There are a lot of naysayers who talk about impact injuries, knee replacements and all of the health problems that come from running, and, while those injuries do happen, it’s less than non-runners like to believe. On top of that, I realized that I can run until my knees blow out and I’ll still be healthy, or I can eat until my heart gives out and be dead. I’d rather be a paraplegic than dead. I choose running. And I don’t mean to be flip or arrogant or implying that being paraplegic is trivial, I just mean life, healthy, is better than being dead and missing out on my kids. So I decided to go for it. I decided to become a runner.
As I continued to research my newest hobby, I learned that running kicks booty as far as what it does for your body. It teaches endurance. It builds muscle. It works your heart. It burns many more calories than other forms of exercise and it’s badass enough that running makes me feel strong and capable. That self perception is important. I’d better think running is cool otherwise I’m totally not going to do the work to call myself that brand of athlete.
Best of all? All you need is a pair of good sneakers. You can run anywhere, anytime in any clothing. It certainly is more pleasant in the right attire, but you get my point. I didn’t have to join a gym and I don’t have to drive to it or purchase anything. It levels the excuses right out!
That’s why I chose running.
How I started running:
My running schedule came straight from, you guessed it, Runs For Cookies Katie! Seriously, you guys, I just went and studied up on Katie and started doing what she did. She’s amazing!
I started with a goal of 30 minutes of exercise. My running built up in small increments over time (with rests in between some of the days) like this:
Day 1: run 30 seconds, walk 29 minutes 30 seconds
Day 2: run one minute, walk 29 minutes
Day 3: run two minutes, walk 28 minutes
Day 4: run four minutes, walk 26 minutes
Day 5: run six minutes, walk 24 minutes
Day 6: run eight minutes, walk 22 minutes
I planned to continue like this, but I kept realizing that it wasn’t as hard as I had always thought it would be. Around this time, I decided to run my first mile. It was a lot of work, but the glory I felt was pretty incredible! After I ran that mile, I stopped worrying so much about how much I could do and started wondering how much I was truly capable of. My longest distance to date is a little over five miles and my fastest mile is 8:12. I never thought I’d run a mile, ever, much less one in that time, and the fact that I ran five in a row last summer like it wasn’t a big deal still can boggle my mind.
One of the things that Katie said, that was important for me, was to not focus on speed, focus on endurance. Set a time and go for that, as slow as you need. She said that sometimes you could probably walk faster than you were running, but enduring that motion was important. She said speed would come with practice. For me, she was exactly right. These days I go back and forth. Sometimes I run for distance and others I run for time. When I’m running distance it’s for training. Running for a length of time is just a cardio workout. I much prefer to run to train over the joy of cardio.
Curvy Runner-Girl Clothing:
Wear compression gear and support gear- as much as you need. If you’ve lost weight or, simply, have weight, you know that running also means bouncing flesh. Not only does my wobbly, fatty flesh’s very existence irritate me, it also calls a lot of attention to itself when I run. It wants to bounce out of my bra, out of my pants out from under my shirt… My skin gets to shaking and who knows what is going to fly out?! I swear, my stomach is like a hammock with a cantaloupe in it!
Bras and jockstraps were invented for a reason- to hold flying bits in place and keep active folks from hurting themselves. People with hanging skin issues like mine have to protect themselves similarly. I wear maidenform shapewear that I buy in the shapewear section of Ross for less than 8.00 a piece. I wear it all the time except when I have a bathing suit or pajamas on. Last summer I tried skipping it on a few runs, but ended up with rashes where my belly skin rubs against itself. Holding it still not only is more attractive, it also is less painful.
I’m also a strong believer in dressing the part. I purchase exercise gear as I need and when something particularly cute shows up. I like to feel like I fit in when I exercise, and wearing 8 year old sweats and a baggy t-shirt makes me feel unattractive and like a poser. My running tights, however much they cling to my curves, are not only more functional (spandex is tight so you don’t have extra fabric and it glides, so your thighs have very little friction), I also feel like a bonafide runner in them.
I’m a big fan of the bras Brooks sells and love Target’s workout gear. Btw- 2X in the Target Active section fit me when I was a 22-24 down to when I was an 18. Lotsa stretch- don’t be afraid to try things on, and remember, you’ll shrink out of them if your stick with the exercise. Plus? Those little tight Capri running tights? They are only the best thing to wear around the house EVAH. Yes, even better than yoga pants. Ross has lots of workout gear as well, but you have to be pickier about fit. I ended up with several pairs that seem intent on sharing which underwear I’m wearing with passers by all the time rather than keeping me clothed.