Written By: HEATHER
When I started running it was a means to an end. I needed to get healthier and be more active, and running seemed liked the easiest way to do that. I downloaded a Couch to 5k training plan, and I took off. It didn’t take long before I was hooked. I Run the District because running makes me feel better about myself. I feel accomplished, healthy, energized, and motivated – and I get to experience that pretty much in my backyard. It doesn’t get much better than that!
There is no lack of advice online on how to train for races, and I am by no means an expert on the subject. However, I do know what it feels like to be new to running and feel overwhelmed with where to start.
Like any other new endeavor, it’s easy to become buried in information and feel like you’re never going to “get it.” I started small.
Talk to someone you know who’s a runner. For me, that was my brother. When I first started running he had recently completed the Chicago marathon and so was the resident “running expert” in the family. His advice: get a good pair of shoes. That was the basics for him, and all you really need in order to run. He told me to go to a running store, take the athletic shoes I currently owned (so that the associate could see how they were wearing), make sure they watched me walk/run, learn about my pronation (I’m an overpronator), and suck it up and purchase a proper pair of running shoes. I still consider this the most fundamental part of running. I’ve ramped it up a notch by actually tracking how many miles I put on a pair of shoes, so I can be sure I replace them when needed. But even this you can usually tell by feel.
Start simple and don’t overdo it. I’m an all or nothing kind of person. I have a tendency to throw myself into something and then burn out when it gets to be too much. Since I’m aware of this, when I start something new I make sure to pace myself. When I started running it was with the Couch to 5k program. This program is designed to take you from a non-runner (couch sitting) to being ready for a 5k in 9 weeks. You only run three times a week, and it starts of very simple - alternating 60 seconds of jogging with 90 seconds of walking. There’s a temptation to speed up the training to get there sooner, but that increases the risk of injury and burn out. Even now, preparing for the Run the District races, I have to remind myself to take it easy. Right now my running schedule is every other day, and I make sure to listen to my body if I need to take a day “off” or repeat a workout that I don’t feel I’m ready to move on from.