It has been three months since I first started running with a simple goal of 5k. I thought I might share with you the steps I have taken to surpass my original goal, as well as my next goal of 10k.
In The Beginning...
- It is always a good idea to check with your doctor before starting any new exercise program. Mostly likely your doctor will tell you it is the best decision you have made in a long time. At least, I hope that is what your doctor says.
- I highly recommend the couch to 5k program. I am constantly being asked what app I use on my phone when I run. I used the 5k Runner app by Heavy Duty Apps. I love it!
- Find a safe place to run. I prefer outdoor running to a tread-mil(aka dread mill) any day. If you can find a safe place to run with mile markers, those are the best. Otherwise, you may want to get in your car and measure a distance in a few places. My GPS app has never worked right so I rely on my car to tell me how far I am going.
- Be consistent! Stick to the every other day program. I ran 3 days a week somedays and 4 the next but not missing a run kept me dedicated. Don't over do it by running 2 days in a row (yet). If you want to exercise on the in between days, try something for your upper body and core.
- Drink water! I gave up tea, cokes, and even milk. I shoot for 4 liters a day or around a gallon. When I don't drink enough water I feel sluggish. If I want milk, I drink coconut or almond milk instead. I grew up on a dairy farm and my Daddy milked cows every day when I was little. I appreciate milk but I feel less bloated when I avoid it. I do love it though!
- Track your progress. It feels good to go back and see how far you have come. I love DailyMile because I get a weekly report to my e-mail that shows me how well I did. I also love logging my runs and thoughts on the app for DailyMile, Electric Mile.
- Shoes that fit are important. A reader, Heather, reminded me that a good pair of shoes is important. Also, good socks. She recommends getting fitted by professionals. I have been told to have it done and I haven't yet. If you have trouble with finding a good fit, definitely visit the experts. I wear my socks thin so I try to buy socks that are thick and my shoes are 1/2 a size too big to give my toes plenty of room...an expert runner gave me that bit of advice.
- Walk to increase distance. When I was getting close to my 5k goal but wasn't finishing it in the time allowed by the app I was using, I just walked the extra distance until my distance goal was reached.
- Intervals for speed. If you feel super slow like I did for months and know you want to cover more distance in less time or just increase your 5k speed, try interval training. A day or two a week during your running you may want to skip the 5k program plan and try running intervals. I used my 5k app and went back to day one. I would run as fast as my legs would move me and then walk. I also increased my tempo during regular runs in the middle of my runs to increase my speed...it works!
- Plan life around workouts. Your health is so important. I can not even stress it enough. I would love to spill what I have had to deal with in the last 10 years with my health but I will tell you, because of factors such as Type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure, along with my weight; I was labeled "morbidly obese" last April.
- Bad days happen. Don't let a bad run ruin your motivation. Don't let a glance in the mirror or a picture a friend took make you feel you are not progressing fast enough. A healthy lifestyle and healthy body happens much slower than we realize. If you feel your run is just not going to happen, walk instead.
- Run occasionally with no limits. The one thing I love most is when I have plenty of time to run. I find myself pushing the limits. It is nice to go for a leisurely run on Saturday morning and find that you can go just a little further when you aren't pressed for time.
- Run occasionally with limits. I found when I started back to work this school year that if I wanted to run in the mornings before work, it would have to be within an allotted time so that I could get back home, clean up, and get to work early enough for duties. I had gotten used to running with no limits and realized that my pace was as slow as some walkers speed. The time limits helped me to increase my speed.
- Set new goals. Don't settle for one goal. Strive for excellence. See how far your body can take you. Once I reached my 5k goal on a regular basis my options were to set a speed goal or set a distance goal. I chose distance. My next goal was 10k. I do 10k on a regular basis before work...don't ask what time I get up in the morning. It is ridiculous.
- Register for a race. I am running a race in November, an 8k for Wounded Warriors. It keeps me motivated for two reasons. One I have paid for it and it cost a bundle to run because it is a fund-raiser. Two because I am doing it with friends, for a friend. Even if I don't win, I have already won!
- Make longterm plans. Start thinking about what you will do during the holidays, when bad weather happens, through the long winter months.
- Run with friends. You could probably do this just fine in the beginning. I felt this was a very personal thing and that I would either slow someone down or someone would not be able to keep up the distance. Now, I think I am ready for a running buddy. My pace is better and I feel I can keep up with the distance...just don't ask me to push a baby stroller...that's for Wonder Women!
- Injuries. That is when you can rest. Take it easy, see a doctor if necessary. I hurt my ankle a few weeks ago, running in the dark on a road and I stepped off in what I thought was a driveway to avoid a car in the wee hours of the morning. Only I stepped in a hole. I finished my run but the next day it wasn't pretty. It didn't hurt to walk or run but it did hurt. Let injuries heal, rest and then keep moving.
I am sure I am forgetting something I tried and that there is more great advice out there! I am still a beginner but today I reached my current goal..13.1 miles. That did include my walking so my next goal is a complete run for that distance. Good luck! Share your thoughts, ideas and tips with me.