As the warmer weather is upon us (kind of…?), so many people in my neighbourhood are out running these days. I’ve always wanted to, but being born/cursed with bad knees and Princess-and-the-Pea feet (they get sore super easy), I’ve never really tried it. Gymnastics? Yes. Dance? Sure. Yoga? Love it. Weight Training? No problem. Running? Nope.
I always think about how free running must feel. Maybe it’s because I’m a mom, but to just get away a bit and run…at my own pace…with no one telling me what to do…no one judging me. Yeah, running is my perfect sport, except for the fact that I’ve never run for anything in my life…not even the bus.
This spring/summer I’m going to train for a 5K. Note: I didn’t say I was going to RUN a 5K…but I will train for it. So, being the type-A personality person that I am, the first thing I needed to do was research. That and go shopping for cute shoes and running gear.
Here’s what I learned:
Get Good Gear: Proper-fitting footwear is essential to ensure that you avoid injuries. Get fitted by a specialist if you can and make sure to break those puppies in before you run any sort of distance. Buy yourself a new tanktop/t-shirt in your fave colour. Seriously. I know it sounds totally girly, but having a new top that I only wear for running makes me want to run more…just so I can wear it. Also, I splurged a bit and invested in a heart rate monitor so I can see just where my heart rate goes when I run, jog and walk (which is pretty cool).
There’s an app for that: I downloaded the Couch-to-5K app from Active.com and it’s perfect for a beginner runner like me. I picked from one of five virtual coaches to guide me through each workout. Plus the app tracks my distance, pace, and routes, and it even shares my progress on Facebook (if I so desire).
One step at a time: Your training schedule should include a steady, gradual increase in speed and distance. You don’t want to run the risk of exhaustion and discouragement. The longer your body has to work up to the goal (I’m going to span it over about 3 months!), the less chance you’ll have of injuring yourself.
Don’t keep it a secret: Tell people (like I’m doing right now!). It will help keep you motivated if people are asking you how it’s going all the time. Join a running group or find a running buddy. Nothing like a little encouragement from your friends, kids and neighbours.
Stretch: Before and after every run. And before bed. And in the middle of the day. Heck, stretch all the time.
Build strength: Increased leg strength means you’ll have better posture and put less stress on your joints. If you don’t like weight training, swimming is excellent — water offers resistance that builds muscle without putting strain on your joints.
Eat well & hydrate: Unprocessed fruits and veggies, whole grains and beans can give you the energy you need to complete a run. Make sure you have a serving of lean protein and healthy fats to round out each meal. Make sure you are getting at least eight 8oz glasses of water every day.
Catch those z’s: Just as important as the actual training, proper sleep and rest will keep you from being too tired to run or too sore to push yourself to the next level. Plus, the benefit of regular exercise is often that you sleep better at night.
Seriously people. If I can do it, you can do it. Let’s all become runners this summer!