I started running around the end of May, aware that I was generally in decent shape, able to swim, cycle or walk for extended periods of time, but that I had always had problems with impact. Being “bottom heavy”, carrying all the weight around is much more difficult when you run than when the water carries it for you during a swim. Anyway, two months later, I completed Couch to 5K, ran 30 minutes without feeling like my heart would explode or my legs give up, and am on track to run 10K in another month or so couple of weeks! Here is what I learned and how you can do it too.
You don’t need much to run. I just bought some shoes and those are important, because an injury could delay your progress for weeks.
Go get fitted at a good sports shop. They will consider how your foot hits the floor (bent to the outside, to the inside, flat) and recommend the best shoes. You can get your second pair cheaper online but the first one is something you don’t want to mess up to save a few bucks.
I bought phosphorescent blue shoes so that I only wear them for running, not every day. And had already a sports bra, that is a must too for you ladies.
Apart from that, an old t-shirt, a pair of white socks and any shorts, you are good to go.
Set a time to go running and stick to it. What works best for me is around 530am when I wake up, it is not hot yet, there is barely anyone on the road and it gives me energy for the whole day.
If I plug the computer first and check emails, you can be sure I won’t go running. If I have breakfast either. And so on. So I have a routine that goes wake up, dress, run, swim, have breakfast, go on with your day.
Keep your shoes and clothes by the bed to make life easier, or in a bag if you take them to work. The more barriers you remove, the more you’ll run.
I also log my runs on Dailymile, which is not so much about organization than it is about accountability, I have a few friends like Sarah or Maria and always want to avoid having to say publicly that I didn’t go running. So it pushes me a bit more.
How to start running
If on the first day you run as much as your body can, you won’t do it the next day. You need to build on your ability. Following a program like Couch to 5K is great for that, as they will set the running times for you. One more barrier removed. Couch to 5K starts with 1 minute run, 1 minute walk, repeated 9 or 10 times. Believe me, at the end of it, I was exhausted. But you do the same three times during the week, and each time gets easier. Progressively, you start running 3, 5, 8 or 10 minutes, until you are able to sustain a full 30 minute run.
You can find free podcasts to the couch to 5K program here. With a background of energetic music, Robert’s voice tells you when to run and when to walk. There is also an app that will vibrate when it is time to change your pace, and you can put your own playlist, but the advantage of having them set the music for you is that your pace will adapt to the beat per minute of the music. If you play a slower music on your own, you may have a difficult time adjusting.
That is why when I finished Couch to 5K I downloaded another music list from DJ Steveboy, that follow a 5K to 10K program. They just talk at the beginning and the end of the program, and there is a specific sound when it is time to change your pace. All the time, the music is set so your steps follow the beat. It is a bit slower than Couch to 5K’s music but I was amazed that on the first workout (4x10min runs with 1 min breaks, a big step from the 30 min run), I had no problem at all following it.
The natural step up from Couch to 5K is Bridge to 10K that helps you build strength to run 10K. But I couldn’t find a podcast, and DJ Steveboy’s is pretty similar, except that the first week has 3 minute intervals, while Bridge to 10K goes straight to 10 minute intervals. That is week 7 for DJ Steveboy so I went directly to week 7, out of 10 weeks. Meaning in 3 weeks I should be able to run 10K! You can repeat the week that is a bit of a stretch until you feel comfortable, then move on to the next level.
To build endurance or increase your running time, you can download a ton of podcasts on Podrunner.
All of those are free, and very well made.
How does it feel?
I have to say that I still don’t get the running high, but I have lost 10lb and feel better, more energetic, especially when I start the day with a run, I achieve much more by breakfast time than when I don’t. Other than this, well I can’t say I love running but it’s been ok. I hope to get the high someday, or will just leave it at 10k and go run once in a while.