So you want to give running a try

Guest post by Alissa

Proud but exhausted approaching the finish line of my second half marathon.
Proud but exhausted approaching the finish line of my second half marathon.
No one would have ever called me an athlete. The only times I exercised was when I had to in gym class. But I always admired runners because they seemed so dedicated and driven. I tried giving running a shot half-a-dozen times, and quit a half-a-dozen times. Finally, at 29, I realized my body wasn’t going to trend toward health, and with the encouragement of several friends I decided to buckle down and do this.

Three years later, I’m still at it. I’m slow, but I run! Learning to run was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, but I truly believe that if I can do it anyone can. I’ve become a running evangelist, encouraging everyone to try it.

There’s no shortage of information on the internet about running: training plans, sports nutrition, shoe reviews, etc. But I had trouble finding tips for starting COMPLETELY from scratch. Here are some things I discovered along my journey.

There’s no shame in walking

I won’t sugar-coat this: when you first start, you’ll suck. Each time I decided to try running, I ran for all of for two minutes before gasping and wanting to give up. Like other hard things in life, running takes practice. I have a friend training for a 50-mile race, and she still drops to a walk. Be realistic about the time it’ll take to get good at this. Don’t worry about being fast; start slowly and build up. The key is don’t quit. If you can’t run, walk; walk as long as you need to, then try a bit of running again when you feel you can. If you keep working at it, you WILL get better.

Challenge yourself

If you go too hard too fast you could be injured. But don’t take that as a pass to sit back — challenge yourself. Once you can run a full mile, start aiming for two. Once you can run three, try running faster. Run further. Run up a hill. Not only will it give you an amazing sense of accomplishment, but it’ll make you a better runner overall.

Figure out your poop

No, really, running is a natural laxative. This is one of those things they should put out there in huge letters so every new runner knows, but they don’t! Not only should you… er… “go” before you run, but until you learn how your body reacts, I’d recommend running in places close to a bathroom. An indoor track at a gym worked for me for the first few weeks. But then make sure you get out to explore the trails and streets your ‘hood has to offer.

Invest in some running accessories

The nice thing about running is that anyone can do it anywhere and the only thing you need is shoes. If you want to give this an honest shot, you’re going to have to invest in some running shoes. Expect to drop $100 on a decent pair, but they will help you avoid injury. Running stores are best for these because they specialize in running, just running. You can get a video gait analysis and talk to a pro who will point you to the right shoes for your body. Another thing to invest in: a good sports bra. (Don’t ask me for a price quote on those, though, from this size A.) As for shirts, shorts, and pants, cheap stuff from Target works fine.

Find cheerleaders

You need folks who will support you and celebrate every little accomplishment with you throughout this whole process — whether a runner or a non-runner. I still remember the first day I completed two miles, the first time I ran a full 5K, and the first time I stumbled across the finish line of a half marathon. I don’t think I would have ever gotten that far without people to call up and squeal about my newest milestone, or share a post-race burger with, or even running beside me saying, “You can do it!”

Sign up for a race!

This is what I find the most important. Not only will this give you motivation to keep training, but race environments are incredible. There are costume races, mud races, races with your dog, and races supporting just about any cause. All matter of random people will cheer for you as you run, and you will see people to inspire you — from pro athletes smoking everyone that make you want to go faster, to geriatrics shuffling along that will make you resolve, “Wow, I want to be doing 5Ks when I’m in my seventies.” (If you’re in the US, this is a nice site to find races.)

You can find more about running online, but those are the basics that most helped me. I didn’t start running to lose weight (and I haven’t), but to feel better and learn how to take better care of my body. I feel healthier now than I’ve ever been, I’ve discovered that I’m capable of more than I thought possible, and I’m more proud of my running than probably anything else I’ve accomplished.

Comments on So you want to give running a try

  1. I love running. I’ve never been fast. I’ve always looked ungainly and uncomfortable. But there is nothing else that makes my entire body feel as strong and happy as running.

    Oh except for the arthritis I’ve had since middle school, which brings me to…

    advocating for those dorky barefoot shoes. I switched to them a year ago and had to basically re-learn how to run in them, but so far I’ve had my longest-ever no-injuries running spree, less joint pain, more enjoyable, etcetera etcetera. I totally thought they were ludicrous until someone suggested them for the types of pain I was having. They worked for me.

    • I LOVE my Vibrams. I started running in them, so I didn’t have a tough transition, but I totally drink the kool-aid.

      It is definitely very tough on the calves though. My husband and I have a theory that this is why I’m so slow even compared to many other beginners my age and size–that running with a forefoot strike ultimately uses a lot more energy because of what your calves go through.

      For anyone not in the know–the theory behind barefoot running is that modern running shoes with their copious padding and shock-like technologies encourage and enable runners to land on their heel, and this does a lot of damage to joints. Barefoot running takes away this option, forcing you to land on a forefoot or midfoot strike, so you’re basically running on your tip-toes. I land on the balls of my feet. Your calves then have to work as shocks, and they absorb the impact, saving your joints. This can be seriously tough on those poor calves, though. For runners making a transition, they have to drastically reduce mileage and gradually phase out the old shoes/style. When my husband and I first started out doing it, we’d barely be able to walk up the stairs after a run.

      I definitely think that it’s worthwhile. We’re both pretty injury free, and find them very comfortable.

    • What type of pain were you having? I have arthritis too, and am wondering if those funny shoes would help. I usually run on a low impact treadmill, which has been pretty great, but I still have days when I can’t due to pain in my feet, ankles, and hips.

      • Moon, I have pain in my hips, lower back, knees ankles, hands… everywhere. I use a bike to warm up my joints for at least 5 minutes before I can run, that helps too.

    • I’ve given barefoot running a shot (Merrell PaceGlove rather than Vibrams) and have definitely noticed a change in my gait when I switch back to my regular shoes. I will say that because you’re re-learning how to run make sure to START SLOW! I didn’t start slow enough (ran too far too soon) and gave myself some nice tendonitis.

    • I didn’t want to be the dorky cult member that brought up vibrams/toe shoes, but since someone else did….YES!

      I actually ran a ton in high school (cross country, indoor track, outdoor track) but it was *always* a struggle and my high, uneven arches led to an endless search for the right shoes (as well as a stress fracture along the way). I fell on and off the running wagon through college and beyond, but could never really stick with it. When I lived overseas for 5 years, never having access to new running shoes was always a good excuse if I thought about picking it up again; or when I traveled for work, they were too bulky to pack. Then one year I got a pair of vibrams as a gift (props to my husband for tracing my feet while I was sleeping). I will *NEVER* go back to wearing running shoes ever again. Why?
      -They’ve strengthened my feet and my ankles, and I feel like I’m floating when I run in them (at least relative to regular shoes). It just feels healthier and more natural.
      -Contrary to what many people assume (I get asked this a lot), it does not hurt to run over rocks or gravel, and I don’t constantly worry about stepping on something sharp. I’m absolutely sure I’ve run over broken glass bits before and not had a problem (a hazard of trail running & hiking where I lived overseas). Would I purposely run through a construction site with rusty metal bits or through a sea of large chunks of broken glass? No. But I wouldn’t do that in regular sneakers, either.
      -You never have to wonder whether they’ve broken down and should be replaced – you can very clearly see the wear on the soles, and you’ll know if/when you need a new pair (my first pair got pretty worn after 2 or 3 years – but I mostly switched because I wanted an open-top style, and I think they would have kept going just fine).
      -I not only wear them running, but walking the dogs, hiking, etc – any situation where it’s socially acceptable to be wearing workout clothes, because my feet are so much more comfortable in them than any other shoes. It’s amazing to not care if they get wet (great for wading in the stream with the dogs), since they don’t get heavier or take days to dry.
      -I’m able to wear them on all but the absolute coldest of days in the winter (they’re fine down below freezing with toe socks), so winter weather has not been a problem at all.
      -Since I still travel a lot for work, the fact that they take up so little room and weigh almost nothing is the icing on the cake.

      And yes, they’re tough on the calves, but for me that went away after a month or so – and now it doesn’t matter if I haven’t run in a while, my calves seem to have reformed somehow, so I don’t have to go through the pain each time I ramp up again.

      And, finally, a non-vibram-related comment: tip #1 in this post about walking is key. Having taken up running as a young brash athlete, I never believed in walking. Ever. For any reason. And this is probably why I hated running so much for years (and got stress fractures); it was a way of punishing myself. Now, at 30, I’m happier than ever to let myself walk if/when I need it, and then run again when I’m ready. I’m a healthier, more consistent runner than I’ve ever been, because I’m that much kinder to myself!

      • I love that your husband traced your feet while you were sleeping!

    • I used to sell Vibrams! I actually worked the Vibram tent at a few Crossfit events in Southern California. I probably sold 1000 pairs at the store I was working at…it was a few years ago and we couldn’t even keep them in stock! They were so popular. I own three pairs and they really are awesome. Everything people said up there is true, but they really do take getting used to. My feet were sore the first time I wore them. I would first wear them around your house a few times to see how it feels.

      I really commented to say that as an ex- Vibram salesperson…I have gotten up close and personal with WAY too many pairs of feet…oh the smelly memories.

  2. In the UK, the NHS has a great free running program following the Couch to 5k system (often written as c25k). I used this program to start from zero and build up to 5k (or 30mins running) in about 8 weeks.
    More info here: http://www.nhs.uk/livewell/c25k/Pages/couch-to-5k.aspx

    Running is great becasue with a little bit of work, you can see yourself improve very quickly! It’s very addictive.

    The most important tip I got about running is: if you are having trouble breathing then slow the hell down. Even if this means you are shuffling along at not much more than a walking pace. You need to let your lungs catch up!!

    • I second the breathing… you shouldn’t be able to sing, but you should be able to say a few words at a time!

      Also, if I do a significant warm-up- like briskly walk an entire mile- I find that when I do start running my breathing is better and I can run faster and for longer that if I didn’t warm up.

    • What finally got me running for real was a friend saying it takes three weeks to really get into running, and then you do kinda get addicted. I figured I could try something for three weeks. I think it took a bit longer for me to get addicted to running itself, but I was definitely addicted to “Oh my gosh, look at me! I’m running! I’m, like, actually running several times a week! I’m like a runner or something! ME!” πŸ™‚

  3. This is such great advice! I’ll be doing my first triathlon in two weeks and the running was, and still is, the most intimidating part for me. I’ve heard the first two miles of a run are always the worst which is why so many beginners give up, but it’s worth it to stick it out.

  4. Wow, are you me?! 29 and decided I needed to get up and go, I was only going to go downhill if I didn’t! Never did a moments exercise in my life save some Pilates classes when I got sciatica in my early twenties. No races for me yet, I’m still enjoying the fact that I wake up and want to go for a run. I like the solitary nature of it currently. We’ll see if that changes but at the moment I don’t want to compete, I just want to enjoy this ‘new me’ that likes to exercise and can run for half an hour without stopping!

    • Aw yeah for 29-year-old beginning runners! ::fistbump:: Admittedly, signing up for my first race wasn’t about competing. It was about the race schwag; I wanted a race t-shirt to wear to the grocery store like so many other crazy Coloradans. Then I discovered how much fun they are — runners of all ages and abilities out there just doing their best. It’s great camaraderie and that’s when I REALLY got hooked and started trying to beat my best times. πŸ™‚

  5. I used a Couch to 5k app on my phone and it was SUPER helpful in getting me into running. (And then I quit, like an idiot…) But the app helped me get a good pace, told me when to run and when to walk, and was super encouraging without being annoying and perky. I recommend it if you need a running buddy to keep you going but don’t have an actual person to help! I think there are several out there, but mine was called “Get Running”.

      • It’s called “Get Running (Couch to 5k)” and the makers are listed as Benjohn Barnes. I loved it because the nice New Zealand lady was always so nice and encouraging, but didn’t interrupt too much, so I could listen to my music and get in the zone. The zone of huffing and puffing and wanting to die a teeny bit, but a zone nonetheless. πŸ™‚

  6. I love this! I am in the same boat, I first started to try running in 2010 and I’m only now getting to be pretty regular at it. When I started I couldn’t run a quarter mile, nevermind A WHOLE MILE, and now I’m regularly running 5 and training for a half marathon!

    Couch to 5K helped me a lot because it was hard for me to not feel discouraged about walking. The program has it built in, and it helped me build the habit of regularly putting on my shoes and going out there. I really liked the playlists provided here: http://runningintoshape.com/5k-training-downloads/ because Carli is so positive, but there are tons and tons of apps and podcasts available to help you do the program.

    The first time I ran a 5K the whole way was last October, and I actually cried when I crossed the finish line because I was so proud and amazed. (Nevermind that it was a glacial 44 minutes, and that I can walk faster than that.) I really really did not know that I could do it. And I’m still constantly crossing barriers and overcoming challenges that I never thought I would. This has literally been life changing for me, because I feel like the whole world has opened up, and anything is possible. I’m even on triathlons now, with a distant eye to half and whole Ironmans.

    It also really helps to embrace your slowness, and really be okay with that. In the beginning I thought that if I couldn’t run a 10 minute mile I couldn’t run. THIS IS A LIE! If you believe it, it’s a lie! I promise! I started around 14 and even up to 15, and now I’m getting below 13 minutes with an eye on 12. Most runners I know do their “slow runs” faster than that, but who cares. Really. No one cares. A friend recently said “Know what they call the last person to finish a triathlon? A triathlete.”

    Thanks for this great post!

    • Oh Madeleine, I identify with so much that you said that you almost brought me to tears. It is all about embracing the slowness! There is nothing wrong with being slow; just getting out there and doing it is so freaking awesome. That photo at the top was a half marathon my friends invited me to in California. At the finish line they were all comparing their sub-9:00-mile times (I’d DREAM of a time like that!) while I was thrilled that my 12:45-miles was a new personal record! They were waiting for me over an hour at the finish line, but I think I was the happiest person there that day.

    • “Know what they call the last person to finish a triathlon? A triathlete.”
      LURV. This should be emblazoned on tshirts.

    • Yet another 29-year-old who just started running with a C25K program. I got the app on my phone and I swear it’s the best $3 I’ve ever spent in my life! It gives me concrete start, walk, and halfway times and I get my own music. I’m just breaking into my 9th week and I signed up to run in Color Me Rad (a color run) at the end of this month. I’ve never run before in my life (except for a half-hearted attempt that soon failed) and it’s super gratifying to see my mileage go up and my running times go down (12:20, yeah baby!). I run along the Katy Trail here in Missouri, and I love watching the wildlife on the trail and the mile markers make great (literal) milestones. I’m just shy of 3 miles on my runs and my fiance and friends have been nothing but supportive of me. The only thing that sucks is trying to run in the ridiculous Missouri heat and humidity…

    • THIS! I also started with a C25K program, and only because I knew it wouldn’t judge me for walking. (Sometimes I feel like my smartphone is judging all over my face.) My first 5K, I finished at 45:37. I was passed up by several small children and a woman pushing someone in a wheelchair, but I was so proud of myself I totally cried. It is okay to be slow. The point is you did it! You had never done it before but you did it!! That is a beautiful thing.

    • Joining the “slow runner club”! I run a 15:00 mile, and I still run–because I like feeling like my body is powerful (I can run 5k! that’s weird and exciting!) and like I’m doing good things for my mental and physical health.

      When we lived in France, where we had to walk everywhere, I could run a 13:00 mile. I miss living in a walking/public transit culture, because I was more fit (and faster), but I know that the circumstances are different in my US city (where I can’t walk to work/church/friends’ houses) and I’m doing the best I can with what I’ve got.

  7. I swear Offbeat Home is stalking me this week. Ahem. So I signed up for a Zombie 5k in October to raise money for my cousin’s Girl Scout Troop. I haven’t run in many months and even then I wasn’t that good., but this is definitely motivation. I don’t want to get there and get zombified as soon as I start.

    • Hey, my husband is doing the Run for Your Lives (I think that’s the name) zombie run in October with some friends of ours! It was a huge motivation for one of our friends to really get in better shape. She did it last year, but didn’t train as much for it, so this year she and my husband have been going running regularly (1-3x/week), plus she’s been going to the gym a few days a week. Seems like this run is a good motivator for people to work out. πŸ™‚

    • Some of my friends did Run For Your Lives and LOVED it! Races don’t just have to be about being fast; they can be super fun! Zombie runs, mud runs, color runs, dressed-up-in-glow-bracelets-running-at-night runs, you’re having fun AND getting some exercise in the process. Win-win! πŸ™‚

  8. Any advice for how to actually, physically, RUN? My knees bang together and I constantly trip and I can’t jog for more than 30 seconds without both my lungs and my legs giving out. (I can bike for fifteen miles without a problem, though, so I’m in acceptable shape. And I’ve got good shoes.) Add that to the impossibility of running without tons of other people around and I haven’t been able to give it a decent try because of the physical and social discomfort.

    • wallsy- there are running coaches, of course for hire, but one session could probably help you a lot with form. It’s possible it’s only muscular and that changing your posture and gate could help. It’s also possible it’s more than that and perhaps your doctor could advise you. Of course, if you love biking, then bike away! And maybe join a cycle race, they’re getting more popular and have just as many weekend warriors as foot races.

    • You’re not alone in this. In the USA, so many kids never learn to run because schools have been chipping away at phys ed, and parents are nervous to let kids play outside.
      I used to feel like this. And then I just started running.
      Yes I felt like a social outcast. But then it dawned on me, if someone is actually watching me work out, they are getting a crappy workout themselves (not paying attention to their own health). So when I run, and sweat, and try to figure out what my body is doing, I feel like I’m on top, focusing on my own workout.
      Eventually, the more you run, the better you will get at it – because humans are meant to move this way. So just move, and it will get better. (What worked for me when I wanted to move better, was sign up for a core & balance class. I gained a huge amount of body awareness! Perhaps sign up to train with a personal trainer?)

    • Folks who switch to those “toe shoes” or other minimalist shoes (or really any new show) usually have to spend time getting used to them and focusing on their gait and footstrike (whether your toes, the middle of your foot or your heel hit the ground first). Sounds like doing the same might help you. It seems counterintuitive to have to think about mechanics while you run (shouldn’t we just be able to DO it?!), but it really can help. You can teach your body, just as you would teach yourself the mechanics of juggling, or riding a bike, or cutting up vegetables. And so what if you gait doesn’t look like everyone else’s? Settle into something that works comfortably for you. It may take time, but it’s worth it.

    • Maybe check to see if there are running clinics in your area; running stores can be great resources for things like this. I found a clinic last weekend for $25 for two hours — it ended up being six students with one coach. Was a great opportunity to get some tips as well as some personal assessment.

    • I found some instructional videos with advice on running form after my knees starting hurting every time I ran. (Apparently the heel-ball-toe they teach you is marching band is killer on joints and should not be used when running.)

    • If it helps, my weightlifting trainer is mostly against running as a fitness tool – she thinks it’s too hard on the knees for most women and there are easier ways to be cardiovascularly fit. By all means try some of the suggestions above but don’t beat yourself up if running doesn’t work for you – it’s not the pinnacle of Ultimate Fitness or anything! I have decrepit feet and after attempting C25K have decided I’m happier with all the other physical activity I do – running is just not the one for me.

    • I also have terrible stamina. Basically, what people were saying above. Running starts being mostly walking. If you keep at it you will get better. Importantly though, you need to learn how to run correctly and breathe correctly. There are a bunch of videos online about gait and meditation/yoga can help with learning how to control your breathing. For the social, I’m like you and I hate running in public. So I run on the treadmill. It’s not as much a work out but I don’t feel like I’m being stared at and I can set my pace without worrying about crossing the street or going up a hill (unless I want to) so it’s good for learning how to find your running rhythm.

  9. Thanks for this! While I’ve taken up gardening this year (and, in my case, it’s more like intensive yardwork, rather than simple maintenance weeding), I feel like I should be getting a lot more exercise than I do currently. My husband loves to run, but I’ve always found that my lungs start hurting quickly when I run, so I’ve never gone with him. If I could build myself up to it, I think it would be great for us to go running together as I might be able to stay better motivated if I have an exercise partner. We’re about to move to a nice small town that would be perfect for running, so I feel as though now might be the time…

    • “I’ve always found that my lungs start hurting quickly when I run”

      I’m not a doctor, so of course make sure your doc says you’re okay to run. But if you are I always go back to there’s no shame in walking. When I started running I was running maybe 100 yards (because I was gasping for breath) then walking walking walking. Everybody starts somewhere, and you can’t expect to be awesome right off the bat — which was my problem and why I gave up so so so many times before becoming a runner.

      The initial goal here isn’t to become Olympic athletes or even 10:00-mile athletes; the goal is to be healthy and get exercise. And walking totally counts! Running some of that in between the walking is icing on the cake. And being able to run fast is just sprinkles on the icing.

  10. I’d like to second the tip to get good shoes. If you go to a dedicated running shoe store (in my area it’s Runner’s World), they can help you figure out exactly which shoe is perfect for you. Also, don’t underestimate the power of socks. When I was first starting out, I was really limited by blisters. Things got much better after I invested in some (crazy expensive) very fancy running socks. They were totally worth it! Blisters are a thing of the past, now.

  11. I started running about 4 years ago to improve my foot-hockey game. I met my boyfriend, an Ultra Marathonner, and I told him I only run from bears and police. Two weeks later I ran my first mile without stopping (following a hot behind helped). Still, running with someone who regularly completed 50+ mile courses in the mountains of Vermont was intimidating. He gave me “The Courage To Start: A Guide To Running for Your Life” by John “The Penguin” Bingham. I read it and loved it and recommend it to anyone else who’s a mid-or back-of-the- packer. It really put things into perspective and helped me set aside by social fears about running and learn to enjoy it for what it was to me.
    While I’ve done a few distance races, now I just truly enjoy running. I look for races on trails where the scenery is gorgeous, or something with a fun event attached, perhaps sponsored by a local restaurant or brewery. Sometimes the best events are the small ones put on by your local middle school track and field club as a fundraiser that lets you chat with your neighbors over coffee and doughnuts after.

    • I love those little local running events! I figure, I’m gonna be running anyway, so they get some money for their cause from my entrance fee, and I get a t-shirt (I’ll do almost anything for a free t-shirt). Everyone wins!

      • “I’m gonna be running anyway, so they get some money for their cause from my entrance fee, and I get a t-shirt.”

        Agreed! One of my favorite races is a little local no-frills 5K in a nearby town. It’s a cheap $20 that goes to a cause, and I get snacks and socializing. (And this year they gave us free backpacks.)

        On the opposite spectrum, my other favorite race is the Bolder Boulder — 60,000 of you and your closest friends running past Elvis impersonators, belly-dancers, kiddie pools and slip-n-slides while people throw marshmallows at you and offer you popsicles and doughnuts, and you get a bajillion free samples at the finish line. It’s one of my favorite days of the year. πŸ™‚

  12. I am not a competitive runner. I have found other motivations to encourage me to run. Firstly, I love running in the woods, on dirt, and with twisty and winding trails. It keeps things interesting, and the shade of the forest keeps me cool. Second, when I don’t want to run, my husband motivates me. He is phobic of heart disease, and thinks if I don’t run, I’m going to get sick. (I exercise 5 times a week, but apparently if it’s not running, it’s not good enough for my heart, for him.) So I run, and he’s less worried about my health.

  13. I would add to “get good shoes” that you should pay attention to how much you run and when your shoes give out. Running on shoes that are totally shelled sucks and can be painful and harmful. If a person runs short/moderate distances only a couple times a week their shoes will last longer than someone who’s banging out 20 miles a week or more.

    Also, get shoes designed for the type of running you’re doing (road or trail). Running trails in your road shoes will will shorten their life because of the heavy impact. Road shoes also don’t have the grippy treads you need to run safely on uneven ground. Running roads in your trail shoes can be painful because trail shoes are generally less flexible and cushy. I mix up road and trail depending on my mood and the weather, so I have a pair of each.

    • This is why I love running stores. They can analyze your gait, you can talk to them about the type of running you’re doing / want to do, if you have any injuries, and they can point you to the best products for you.

      The running stores in my area also do weekly social runs where you can meet other people, too, if you’re looking for some new friends. πŸ™‚

  14. This post is timed well for me! A couple of years ago I would go for 4 mile-ish out and back run/jog/walks, but I haven’t been into running for the sake of running at all recently.

    I play ultimate frisbee several times a week, which obviously involves a lot of running. It’s mostly sprinting followed by slow jogging or standing on the sideline for a couple of minutes. I’m faster at sprinting than I’ve ever been, since you have to push yourself to outpace your defender or to catch the disc. And it’s so fun that it uses 0% of my motivation reserve!

    The running you do in an organized sport is way different than running in general, and that’s both good and bad for me. Running uses more of my motivation, but it’s also more flexible to fit into my schedule. So this post is what I needed to start going for a run, at least on days when I don’t have a frisbee game. πŸ™‚

    • I also play ultimate and love it. It’s much easier for me to run with my team than by myself, and I can run after a disc much, much longer than if I was just slogging it on the street.

  15. I love and agree with all of this! I’ve never considered myself a runner, but I’m in week 5 of the Couch-to-5K running plan, and I cannot recommend it to people enough (there’s an awesome free app for iPhone and Android)! I’m astounded at how much my stamina has already improved. Even though I was already active (walking, cycling, horseback riding), I realized that I personally would never feel like I was truly in shape unless I could run. So I did. And I’m so happy I did, because boy does it make my body feel GOOD! I’m signing up for my first 5K (at the zoo!) in a couple months. Like the OP said, if I can do it, anyone can. πŸ™‚

  16. A couple months ago, I would have told you there is no way I’d ever start running. Between the fibromyalgia and hereditary neuropathy, I had thought there was no way. Now? Not so much as I’ve proved to myself that I can do so much more than I had thought and that I had unnecessarily put limitations on myself. I just have to take things slower than most. This is the second time running has come up this week, so perhaps I’ll start as a way to help get in shape for my stretch goal of hiking Half Dome. πŸ˜€

      • Yep, I’ve done hikes like it in the past when I was a teenager up in Oregon. We hiked/climbed Mt Hood, Broken Top, Mt Jefferson, and South Sister. We were well on our way to the top of St Helens when the weather turned bad. But this is when I was an unbreakable teenager XD. Now I have a lot of prepping to do a 14 hour day. I’m determined though. There’s nothing like getting to the top of something crazy like that and taking in the view.

    • While I’m not a doctor, I bet your doctors are thrilled that you are challenging yourself! From what I know about chronic pain, even seemingly unrelated challenges which are overcome help pain management. It’s a mental boost to say “I’ve got this. I can do this.”

  17. My husband and I have had two bouts in the last year where we ran regularly for 2 or 3 months, then just kind of… stopped. The most recent time I made it through a 5k race before we fell off the wagon. It’s irritating, because I actually do enjoy it and feel awesome doing it, but once you let yourself get out of the rhythm you’re kind of screwed. This article just inspired me to tell him we should go running again tonight. Haha. I’m naturally pretty thin, so I don’t particularly want to lose weight… I just can tell that I’m not as healthy/in shape as I ought to be and I want to fix that.

    And I’m also 29. Hooray for 29!

  18. I tried to start running a number of times and always quit due to extreme pain in my ankles. I finally went to a free PT evaluation at a local runner’s store (Super Jock n Jill in Seattle) and found out I have unusually shaped feet that aren’t helped by over the counter arch supports. I got fitted for custom orthotics, which I only use when exercising, and the ankle pain is gone! So, in addition to “get good shoes” (the store I mentioned actually evaluates people’s gait and allows you to run around the block to try them out), get any pain you’re having evaluated by a sports PT, as they may be able to help you avoid it.

  19. I just did my first 5k yesterday (!!!!!!!!) after completing the Zombies Run! 5K training program. I HIGHLY recommend this app! The story is enough to keep my coming back every week. Plus, zombies! And now that I’ve completed the 5k I get to graduate to the actual Zombies! Run! app. I usually quit around week 3 or 4 of the C25K program, but this app kept me in the game. I love it.

    Also, I cannot stress the good shoes thing enough. Get a proper fitting at a running specialty store yesterday! Find a reputable shop where they watch you run on a track or treadmill and let you take the shoes outside on the pavement. My shoes were what was causing my runners knee and ever since I had a proper fitting I haven’t had a case of it since.

    • Just seconding the Zombies Run! 5K training app! As a super unfit 29 year old geek I thought running would be the last thing I would try (I just NEVER saw the point, where were you running to?) it turns out the Zombies, Run! storification is perfect to motivate me.

      About to start the 5K training for a second time. Surprise heat wave and a trip to London meant I fell out of the habit, so am going back to 5K training to get back into it (and hopefully improve my time slightly!)

  20. I fully admit that I don’t run. I have a hard time wrapping my brain around there being joy in running for no reason. I may, at some point, get there and I do know that there is joy to be had from using your body and pushing it past the fridge. πŸ™‚

    I did want to just chime in and suggest that mixing in some weight training can be a good thing. It can help build up and balance muscles that may not be balancing if there are issues with your gait. Women have a higher likelihood to have a knee injury, especially if running, or so I learned when I injured my knee from other things and discovered the issue was that my muscles were not balanced. If the leg muscles are not staying balanced or some are tighter than others, you can cause issues with the path of your knee cap. Trust me, discovering that it is grating on your tendons is not fun (I still have issues sitting on some chairs if they are the wrong height) and doing physio to bring down the swelling and rebalance muscles is not the way you want to be spending your time. So if you start to experience pain in your knees, do get it checked if it isn’t going away, especially if it feels like it is around your knee cap.

    • I just started adding some weight and strength training within the last month specifically because I wanted to strengthen my knees to improve my running. And I’m finding I’m getting really into it — another surprise for someone who despised gym class so very very very much. πŸ™‚

  21. OK, so up until last week I was definitely not a runner. I couldn’t run more than two minutes and whenever I passed a runner I’d call them a masochist as I drove past.

    But then something happened last week. Normally I go to the gym on my way home from work then walk the mile home from the supermarket across from the gym with two or three heavy bags. However, I was off work Monday and Tuesday, so I thought “sod it, I’ll jog there”. 1.5 miles in 14 minutes 50 seconds. I was bloody impressed with myself! I’m eventually aiming to get that down to under 13 minutes.

    So I’m no pro, and haven’t run this week since I pulled my Achilles while on the pole at work, but the things I’ve found useful are:
    1) Run a convenient route. My run to the gym involves doing an extra half mile loop up and down a hill to push the distance up to 1.5 miles. Killer but it means I have somewhere to run to. Which leads on to number two…
    2) Run to somewhere or home from somewhere. This way I’m not too focussed on the actual distance (I didn’t even know the gym was 1.1 miles from my house until I Google mapped it), I’m just focussed on getting there
    3) Make simple changes to schedule running in. I now take the tram all the way home from work (yay for my tired feet), get changed at home, grab a drink, then run to the gym, rather than calling in on my way home. Probably adds say an extra 30 minutes on top of the normal gym time but now I walk twice as much as I used too
    4) Walk a lot too. It’s the same muscles so walking will help to exercise them

  22. I love to run!! I suck at it and I have horrible sports induced asthma and I broke my foot running my first half marathon but I love it! HOWEVER!!!!!!! I have some how convinced myself that I can’t lately so if anyone has any tips on getting me back to running or some motivation I would really appreciate any help coming my way thanks!

  23. I ran cross country in high school, and then… I stopped. Part of why I find it so hard to get started again is because I don’t have anyone to run with — the biggest part of why I ran cross country was because I had friends on the team. Now my husband and I are sitting on four years of pizza and inactivity, and it shows (curse you, pants!). Hubbo could be my built-in running partner, but he’s pretty anti-exercise. Does anyone have advice on encouraging a reluctant partner?

  24. Anyone have any tips on running while pregnant? Because, my boobs. Yowza. And I wear a high impact sports bra already. Between that and the humidity(?) seemingly causing me respiratory issues, I’m ready to scale back to just speed walking.

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