I remember dreading gym class in the school years. I went through a chubby phase in Jr. High and we moved for the first time when I was headed into 8th grade. Being the new, chubby girl was not a fun year for me. I recall having to run around the Jr. High building in gym class. I’m sure it was only like 5 minutes or something but it felt like an eternity. But then the weight started to come off and the summer between 8th and 9th grade I ran and worked out and ate healthy. Over the next year, I went from a size 13 to a size 4.
And then college happened. And then a baby. I started working out (not running) again after my son was born and within 9 months of giving birth, I got right back to my pre-baby weight.
New Years came around when my daughter was 10 months old and I resolved two things: (1) to learn to like sewing and (2) to learn to like running. For the first time ever, I kept those resolutions. I started on the Couch to 5K program and four months later, did my first 5K (April 2011). By June, I was pregnant AGAIN. I continued to run but by 5 months I got such bad round ligament pain I thought I was in early labor. So I had to stop running. As soon as I was cleared to after my third delivery I started the Ease into 5K again. I ran a 5K in October and just signed up for an 8K in the Spring.
Bouncing back from 3 babies in 4 years isn’t coming as easily this time around. But I’m working on it! If I can learn to like running anyone can. Trust me. I’m no expert by any means, but here are 10 tips that have helped me.
Oh and before you start, you must, must, must get good running shoes. Go to a running store and get fit. Proper shoes prevent injury and the experts can tell you what kind of gait you have. Good places will watch you walk/run and tell you whether you need a neutral shoe, stability shoe, motion control shoe, cushioned shoe, minimalist shoe…you get the idea. I’ve been using minimalist shoes for the last few months and running on the ball of your foot takes getting used to but now I’m loving them!
1: Go Slow
There are a lot of reasons not to run fast. Injury. Burning out too early. And mostly because, when it hurts and you’re tired, it’s just not fun. I find myself actually enjoying running when I stick to a pace that’s comfortable for me. I never run for speed. I run for fitness and for a certain time or distance. I’d rather be able to run for 30 minutes straight at a slow pace than run super fast and have to walk after just a few minutes of running. I subscribe to this philosophy:
2: Start with a Run/Walk Program
This is exactly why I chose the Couch to 5K program. It eases you into it and you gradually build your endurance. It’s hard but not too hard. Right now I’m doing a 10K training program and I’m still doing a run/walk program even though I can run 3 miles straight. (I just started on week 4 instead of week 1). Both of these programs only have you running 3x per week.
3: Take it Outside
The numbers on the treadmill psych me out! I always run faster outside because I don’t see that 5 or 6mph staring at me and freaking me out that it’s too fast. When I do run on the treadmill, which is a lot in the winter, I run between 4 and 5 mph. Told you I keep it slow!
4: Pick a Powersong
Music is so important to keeping your energy up. Since music is such a personal taste I can’t tell you what to pick but my personal Powersong of late is Maroon 5′s “One More Night”. I put that song on when I want to quit and it gives me energy and even makes me want to run faster! A close second is Christina Aquilera’s “Your Body”.
5: There’s an App for That…
It’s like having a personal trainer. The Bluefin Ease into 5K app is what I used. You can listen to your music and a voice prompt will tell you when to run and when to walk. There isn’t an app for my chosen 10K program that I linked above (although I do have the Bluefin Ease into 10K app too) so I print a spreadsheet and tape it to the treadmill when I run. I mark it off as I go to see how much I’m accomplishing. It’s what works for me.
6: Sign up for a race
Pick a race that’s at the end of your training time and sign up for it when you start your program. Trust me, it keeps you motivated when you have a goal you’re working towards. My next race is in March (the 8K). It keeps me on track and forces me to workout on days I’d rather sit on the couch! You can check out Active.com for local races or simply Google 5K’s in your area.
7: Enlist a buddy
My husband works out a ton but he doesn’t love running (although he can run laps around me). Whenever I’m training for a race he pushes the double jogger while I push the baby and we run together. He helps me push myself to do more than I think I can and he cheers me on when I want to quit.
8: Don’t Use Your Kids as an Excuse Not to Run
I have three kids four and under and I find time. You have to want to do it for you. I whole-heartedly believe that doing things for yourself makes you a better Mom overall…and running is a great stress reliever. Throwing a third kid in the mix definitely makes it a challenge though. On weekends, when it’s nice, the Hubs and I pile the kids in strollers and run together. A few Christmas’s ago, I asked my hubby, mom, and in-laws to all chip in on a double jogging stroller and I’ve used the heck out of it.
But because we don’t own a triple jogging stroller (nor do I care to push one while running!) during the week it was hard to find a way to run, so I saved up $250 of “fun money” (some from my budgeted spending money and some by selling stuff on eBay, etc) and then I hit up Craigslist to find a treadmill (we ended up buying one from a friend). So when I can’t run outside I run on the treadmill. The kids come hang out in that room while I run. The older two play puzzles or watch a movie. If the baby isn’t napping, I put her in the Pack N Play with a bunch of toys. Most of the time, this allows me to get in a good 4o minute run. And I like to think I’m setting a good example for my kids of how good it is for your body to exercise. When the baby starts regularly sleeping through the night, I’d like to get up at 5am and workout so it’s out of the way for the day.
Is it always easy? No. Is it worth it? Yes. Am I worth it? Yes!!
9: Alternate with other Workouts (Cross-train)
Doing anything every day can get monotonous. Since I’m in weight loss mode, I try to work out 5-6 days a week with 3 of those being running days. The other days, I’m doing TurboJam or Body by Bethanny (the DVD that made me enjoy yoga). I’ll get more into what I do on non-running days later in the week.
10: Keep Going
It takes time to get good at anything. And it takes time to see results. You CAN do this! I’m always amazed at how strong I feel after a run. Even when it’s a day that felt like a “bad” run.
Above all else, do what works for you. I find running is a lot more mental than it is physical. If it’s not fun you won’t stick to it. Find your happy pace.
I’ll end with my favorite running quote:
”Running is a state of mind. The only thing that determines your success, or lack of success, is the way you think about your running. If it works for you – if it relieves stress, burns calories, gives you time to yourself, enhances your self-esteem – then it doesn’t matter what any other person or any stopwatch says about your running.” -Runner’s World-