That that don't kill me, can only make me stronger. I need you to hurry up now, cause I can't wait much longer. Kanye West, Stronger

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

So you want to be a runner? Part 1

Running is a very intimidating sport. But don't be put off! For anyone who ever commented or thought, I could never run a mile, let alone 3, 6, 26, or more. Fear not, you can.

So this is the story of the little runner that thought she couldn't...

Beginning in the early elementary school days, American Physical Education mandates that students run "THE MILE." As if enduring one mile is a the hallmark of physical health and ability. Every year I suffered through the dreaded fall day, I would have to run until my little lungs were sore from the bitter cold air.

Every year I muddled through running and walking on the narrow dirt path that served as our course. By junior high we had to run the mile 4 times! My friend refused to run next to me because I wheezed horribly whenever I ran. For some reason, the only asthma-like symptoms I ever experienced were during running. My father, how is an incredible athlete, and at 65 plays on two golf leagues, a soft ball league and a tennis league, happens to be a horrendous runner. Even though he played soccer and baseball in college, he insists can't jog more than 200 yards without stopping.

So I was happy to have running out of my life after high school. But I was annoyed that after running a quarter of a mile I was completely winded. However, I decided to leave well enough alone and enjoyed biking, swimming, spinning and so forth.

But then I read about the Revlon Run Walk for Women. Several celebrities would be speaking, plus you got a free t-shirt and raised money for cancer. I was in! The catch--its was a 5k (3.1 miles). So I recruited a friend and we signed up for the Revlon Run/Walk for Women. I figured I could always walk if need be. So I started by alternating 3 minutes of walking with a minute of running. Then 3 minutes of walking with 2 minutes of running. Then 3 minutes of walking with 3 minutes of running. Then 3 minutes of walking with 4 minutes of running, until I reached 3.1 miles.

If I was outside I counted driveways or street blocks.

Once I reached 3.1 miles. I started to alternate one minute running at 5.2 miles per hour with one minute of running at 6.o miles per hour. Slowly I began bumping up those speeds, until I could run a steady 6.o.

The race came and went successfully, and we have done it every year since. It seemed like such a major accomplishment back in 2003. 3 whole miles. I never ever dreamed I would run 26 miles. Who would want to?

I think the run/walk model is very sound and time tested.

Run/Walk Tips

*If you make yourself walk at a very fast clip, like 4-5mph, you will probably find that jogging is actually easier than walking. So you might just decide to forgo the walking thing and just keep jogging.

*On the flip side if you walk to slow, you might feel so comfortable that your body may not want to run. So pick it up, recover if you need to, but don't be afraid of a little challenge. Pain is weakness leaving the body--lol.

After the initial race, I would run/jog occasionally. Especially one summer when I didn't have a gym membership. But never more than 3-4 miles. Nevertheless, I had proved to myself that I could run. Maybe I grew out of the minor running induced asthma, or maybe it was all in my head. So if this sounds like you, try again things may have changes since the days of PE and sweaty pinnies.

So how did I end up a runner (of at least a person who runs)? That is part 2: So you want to be a runner: join the club.

PS If the post wasn't enough inspiration, maybe this cover will be. :)


Betsy said...

ANYONE can be a runner!! I sure wasn't one a year ago...

chandra said...

I definitely wasn't one a year ago and I am somewhat of one now! :) I can't wait for the next installment!

VeggieGirl said...

running is a wonderful form of exercise - I LOVE "runner's high"!