I’d like to dedicate today’s entry to running – and by “running,” I mean short bursts of jogging (or yogging… It might be a soft “j”) followed by longer lulls of speed walking. I’m not trying to kid anyone. I am not a runner… but I want to be. That should count for something.
I love the idea of running – getting out in nature and away from the distractions of work, relationships, etc. Letting your legs create some distance between you and your stresses. However, what running is for people like me who aren’t born natural athletes, is something totally different. It’s exhausting. It hurts. It’s really not all that enjoyable of an experience.
One of my goals for 2013 was to run a 5K (again, using the term “running” loosely). I signed up for Color Me Rad months ago, and I have to admit, I’m terrified by it. Not because I can’t make it 3.11 miles, but because I don’t want to drag my team of thin, fit people down. The first step, to me, is training.
I started on Easter by running at Lake Hefner. When I hit the halfway point, I couldn’t believe how far I had come. The buildings where I left my car looked itty bitty… Then I realized that I had no choice to get all the way back over there. I was alone. No one was going to carry me or pick me up. It was just me and my legs.
You know what? I made it. My legs and I were fine, albeit a little sore. I finished in 43:30. It’s not an impressive time, but I did it, which proved one thing to me – I could do it. The first run was a measuring stick… a place to start. And when it comes to exercise, the most important thing is usually the toughest – starting.
For those of you paying attention, you’ll notice my last run was both my fastest and longest. Yeah, okay. It was my fastest by :32 seconds, but it was still faster and I earned those :32. Don’t rain on my parade, haters. I’ll eventually cut 13 minutes off and be running at a decent pace. Just you wait.
All that to say, for you wanna-be runners like me, here are a few tips I’ve found in my three test runs:
1. Location, location, location!
I have yet to run in the same place twice. Part of “the dream” of being a runner for me is seeing new things – that’s a little pointless if you’re running at the same location every time. I did a simple Google search and found several locations in my area that are prime running spots. Plus, each place offers different course lengths, elevations and overall experience.
One last bonus that no one considers, you don’t know your way around. So when you hit that point when you think “Screw this, I’m going back to my car,” you have no idea if turning around or going forward is the fastest way back. Chances are once you figure it out, you’re probably pretty close to achieving your goal anyway. (I’m not kidding. This definitely happened on my second run and, to a lesser degree, my third.)
2. Everything is better with a soundtrack.
I know I keep talking about nature and escaping things, but I cannot run without music. As nice as the sound of birds and such is, hearing my feet hit the pavement just reminds me of how much work I’m really doing. Just as running is a distraction from stress, music is a distraction from running.
Another valuable tip – switch up your music. I have a “Work It Out” playlist, but my first run was set to a random shuffle; the second was two songs on repeat; the third was Sufjan Stevens The Age of Adz album. Each offered me what I needed to push through.
3. Chew on that.
Have problems getting parched during a run, but you don’t want to lug around a water bottle? Chew some gum. It helps. Scouts honor.
4. Excuses, expluses.
Life is busy. As a girl with 4 jobs, trust me, I get it. There are usually a million reasons why you can’t exercise… and sometimes they are actually legitimate. The key though is that if you look for it, there are a few days here and there that there is no good reason not to go for a run. Take advantage of those times! It’s spring – there is going to be some nice weather and a few evenings that you have no obligations for a few hours – at least long enough to run, then shower and get ready to go about your business. Do it then. You’ll feel better after you push past that initial urge to be lazy.
5. Never give up, never surrender!
I admit that 43 minutes to jog 3 miles isn’t good, but that’s not really the point for me. Yes, I want to get faster, but at the end of each run the thing I’ve been most proud of is that I did it. I made the choice to get out and be active instead of sitting on the couch. Even if it took me an hour and a half to get through it, I still would’ve made a choice to be healthier. In the long run (pun intended), that is the most important thing.