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I’m almost a real runner

by Karen on January 18, 2010

My big New Year’s Resolution is to run a half marathon this year, but my first goal is a 5K in the middle of March. Last weekend I finished up week 3 of the Couch to 5K training plan.

Guys. Seriously. Running is HARD. I was hoping it would be a lot easier since I’ve been working out consistently for a year now, and it was … at first. But week 3 kind of kicked my butt, and I’m scared about tonight’s work out because I’m starting week 4.

It really shouldn’t be this hard. The longest stretch of running without stopping last week was only 3 minutes at 5 miles per hour. It should be much easier than it is. But like I said, I’ve never been a runner. I kind of hate it. But each week starts out much harder than it ends up, so at least I’m making progress.

I’m still afraid to weigh myself because I know I put on a few pounds over the holidays, and I don’t think I’m losing. My clothes aren’t fitting any better yet. But I’m sticking with it because I really want to run that 5K.

Here are some of the things I’ve learned that are making my training a little easier.

Couch to 5K iPhone app

This thing has been indispensable in my training. If you have an iPhone or an Android and you’re training for a 5K, I highly recommend it. I can listen to music and forget about the time, and a voice pops in when it’s time to change pace. If you don’t have a smart phone, there are many C25K podcasts that follow the same general idea. You could easily track your time with a stop-watch or on a treadmill timer, but something about forgetting about the time and focusing on my music makes it a lot easier for me to follow the program. Which leads me to my next tip …

Focus on anything but time.

I still catch myself staring at the clock, waiting for the run to end. But the more I focus on how much time I have left, the slower time seems to go. Instead, focus on the music, focus on how powerful you feel running, focus on why you’re doing this for yourself. Think about your to-do list or what you’re having for dinner. Honestly, if I’m thinking about other things, the time flies by, the run seems easier, and my time is better.

Remember that food is fuel.

I started training in December, and I learned the hard way that what you eat has a direct effect on how your workout will feel. The day after Christmas was torture, because I’d spent the day eating nothing but crap. Since I’m also trying to eat healthier, I’ve become very conscious about what’s on my plate, but I also consider how rough that run will be tonight if I spring for the french fries at lunch. Food is fuel, and if you eat healthy, you will feel healthier during your workout.

Listen to your body.

It’s okay to push yourself to increase your time and speed. It shouldn’t be easy. But you should always pay attention to your body’s limits. I try to bump up my speed a little bit with each workout, but if I slept poorly the night before or I’m not feeling at my best, there are times when I think I might die before I reach the end of a run. It’s okay to slow down a little if this happens to you. You’ll feel better at the end of the workout, and you’ll be less likely to skip working out the next day if you’re not dreading it.

Since I’m so new at this, now I want some tips from you. How do you stay motivated to run? And how do you improve your time and endurance?

Photo by lgh75

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Slow & steady
February 18, 2010 at 8:04 am

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1 Nicki at Domestic Cents January 18, 2010 at 8:33 am

I like to run for exercise but I’ve never run for competition before. I use an Mp3 played when I run and make a play list just for running of really motivating songs. I try to be as comfortable as possible. My hair has to be braided so it’s not slapping all over my face and falling down. My clothes have to fit (shorts and a tank) well because I don’t want to fuss over them and the things under my clothes have to fit well too. I begin my run slow, then increase speed and finish with a sprint. That’s what works for me. Also, I’m sure you’re doing warm up and cool down stretches. Those are very important. Good luck!
.-= Nicki at Domestic Cents´s last blog ..Washing A Shower Curtain Liner =-.

2 Danielle January 18, 2010 at 11:14 am

A few things. After your 5k, try signing up and paying for a longer race. If you’ve paid for it, then you’ll be motivated to train for it. That said, you should try to boost your confidence by running longer than required for your c25k program. If the program is the bare minimum, then anything you run over that will give you an “edge” and mean you are a little more hardcore than the rest.

I never ran more than 3-5 miles in my runs until one day, my running partner and I just kept going. When we got home, we checked the Google pedometer hack website, and saw we had run 7 miles. We were so amazed that we had done it (and at this point in our fitness, it had been easy), that we eventually were motivated to train for a half marathon! (13 miles). You can approach this with a proportional situation- run for a long time, then check how far you went. See if you can amaze yourself!

3 Brittany January 18, 2010 at 2:03 pm

The best motivation: Lady Gaga. Ha!
I actually read when I run but I think most people seem to say they would have a hard time doing that. I dunno, somehow I can still do it. Nothing makes 45 minutes fly by like a single New Yorker story!
I think the best way I keep motivated running is just by setting goals… if I say I have to run xxx miles today/this week, then I just hop on the treadmill and go and dont stop till I make it, even if I have to take little breaks.
Also, your weather is still nice and your air is clean (I’m jealous). Have you tried running outside any? It’s always good to break up the monotony of running inside on the boring treadmill.
GOOD LUCK! You’re going to do great, dont’ worry :)
.-= Brittany´s last blog ..Eeeeeep! =-.

4 Kacie January 18, 2010 at 7:16 pm

Did you know that I ran track and cross-country in high school? I was in fantastic shape then. I kinda wish I didn’t let that all sort of melt away, but whatever. I have no interest in running again anytime soon.

Meanwhile, Shane is training for his first race — a marathon. What a crazy head! It’s in May.

The longest race I’ve ever done was a 5k. I preferred shorter distances because I enjoyed speed over distance.

I kind of miss running in a vague way. K you’re welcome for reading this rambling comment.
.-= Kacie´s last blog ..Getting back on track =-.

5 Kacie January 18, 2010 at 7:18 pm

Oh and wait a sec — are you running on a treadmill? That’s so boring! Only do that if the weather is gross. Running outside past interesting scenery or neighborhoods is way more interesting. Unless you like listening to your music or watching TV while you run, I guess. Treadmills just weren’t for me.
.-= Kacie´s last blog ..Getting back on track =-.

6 Fifi January 19, 2010 at 9:49 am

About 2 yeas ago I started the c25k and powered through it. I was never a runner but really wanted to be. I agree the program is challenging but stick with it and I promise it will get easier. Even if you eat right, you will still have days that your runs aren’t the best but take note of how you felt. I agree with wearing the right clothes. It makes a huge difference. Also, I would mix it up and not just run on a treadmill. Although it can sometimes be more challenging to run outside, your body gets conditioned to the variations in the landscape which will ultimately help you when running your 5ks and half marathon outisde…it’s also a lot prettier and makes the time go by without checking at the clock!

7 Fifi January 19, 2010 at 9:51 am

Also, keep signing up for 5ks around town. It helps to keep you motivated and you’ll get to track your progress and improvement. Good luck!

8 ctreit January 19, 2010 at 2:46 pm

Welcome to the world of running! Running will become easier and more enjoyable as time goes on. Check out dailymile.com where you can log your training progress.

9 Haley January 19, 2010 at 10:36 pm

Good for you, Karen! At some point, and it doesn’t have to be before this 5K, I’d encourage you to try doing some intervals on an incline. You can set the treadmill for this or find an outdoor spot with a good slope. You don’t have to run up very steep slopes, but even just a slight increase in incline will help you improve your endurance. Plus, it makes running on the flat feel easy! Good luck, and keep us posted.

10 kim January 21, 2010 at 5:34 pm

Just make sure that the race you are running allows you to wear ear plugs/listen to music. Many don’t, primarily for safety reasons.

Kim

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