Friday, January 9, 2015

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Perhaps you’ve made a New Year’s resolution to start running.  Maybe you’ve signed up for your first 5k or half marathon and are getting started with your carefully researched training plan.

Here’s the one (unsolicited) tip I would give you:  keep going.

I started running in 2009.  Ryan was training for his first marathon.  I was intrigued competitive and quickly followed suit.  My first race was an 8k.  I found a training plan then stepped onto a treadmill at the YMCA.  I ran for about two minutes and thirty seconds before I had to walk.  I was embarrassed and more than a little bit surprised.  I was young, thin and at least vaguely in shape.  And I couldn’t run one mile.

It took several weeks of run/walking to work up to being able to run a couple of miles.  So often friends say that they’d like to start running and then they begin by lacing up and trying to run a few miles.  This (almost) never works.  Running, especially in the beginning, is painful and hard.  Your lungs burn and your legs get heavy so quickly.  So, you stop and walk home after ten minutes.

When I found myself in this exact situation, I remember thinking “But this is what all my runner friends do!  They just go out and jog a few easy miles, so why is it impossible for me?”.  The key is to keep going — not by painfully extending initial outings, but by committing to seeing through the slow process of becoming comfortable running.  Allow yourself to be a beginner.

Set realistic expectations from the outset.  Going out and running a few miles is not realistic (at least for most of us) at the beginning.  Setting a five to ten week schedule to get to you to the start line of a 5k may be.  I wish someone had shared this 5k training schedule with me when I was getting started.  I know several marathoners whose first steps towards becoming a runner began utilizing this run/walk training schedule.

I often tell new or aspiring runners that the first time I ran 20 minutes continuously was almost as significant an accomplishment as crossing the finish line of my first marathon.  The beginning is hard, but keep going.  It will be worth it.


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