Want to know what's weird? I run at least 5 miles a week, recently my friends told me that when they think of me they think of running, but I still don't consider myself to be a runner. I don't know why I fight this identity so much BUT it inspired me to expand upon an idea that I originally shared in my post "Keeping Sane in a 9-5 Job" (if nothing else, just look at this blog post for my very first professional headshot LOL and a pic of me after running a 14k).
Let me give you a little background information into how I started running. My junior year of college I took a class called Conditioning (all of the Gustie's reading this are cringing right now). We essentially had to do some type of cardio 3 times a week. My idea of running at that time was a) running the mile run to pass a class b) running the bases in softball or c) thinking about going for a run and then hittin' the bar for a bloody mary instead. Even though this class was extremely challenging for me, it taught me that I could, in fact, run for fun.
This little confidence boost eventually turned into more. I found myself running even though the class was over (and I passed!). I began running as a way to workout, I signed up for 5ks, 10ks and even a 14k (s/o to Katie Hachiya and Lululemon) and eventually made it a consistent part of my over all health and fitness routine. In fact, over the last two years, one of my new years resolutions has been to run at least 5 miles a week. More recently, during one of my last Quarterly Personal Retreat I set a goal to be able to consistently run 3 miles at a time (almost there!). Yeah, all this and I still don't call myself a runner.
So, here's how YOU can get into running:
1. Give yourself time.
Notice I said that all of this started my junior year of college? That was over 6 years ago. This has been an evolution of skill and interest and a definite journey. Keep your goals small and short-term to start. If you're just getting started, I recommend starting with a 20 minute workout: jog for 30 seconds and then walk at a brisk pace for 2 minutes. Stick with this for a few months but slowly start to take seconds from the walking and add it to the jogging.
2. Create a positive mental outlook on the whole thing.
If you're going into every run thinking "this is going to suck" or "I can't do this", it probably will and you probably can't. My mindset started off like that but then I'd use the reminder of how good I would feel when it was over as a way to get motivated again. My latest outlook on the whole thing is that I want to keep my body strong and healthy so that's why I do it. Another good one is: a slow run is better than no run at all.
3. Encourage yourself.
If you ever see me on a run, I probably look deep in thought. But, here's a secret, it's not all that deep. Usually I am encouraging myself saying "I am strong! I am strong!". I say one word each time a foot hits the ground. Sometimes it goes like this: IAMSTRONGIAMSTRONG because I'm running fast and feeling GREAT and other days it's like I AM STRONG because I am barely putting one foot in front of the other and a snail just passed me so I'm having a humbling moment.
This kind of encouragement is better than counting down the miles, minutes or seconds until you are done. This can be incredibly negative and distracting. It also tells the world "I can only do this for x more seconds" vs "look at how strong I am!". It's not fun to run when you are just dying for it to be over. Instead, pump yourself up! Be your own cheerleader. Choose to make it enjoyable instead of miserable.
3. Sign up for three 5ks at once.
I know what you're thinking, "Kelsey, I don’t even run right now" or "Kelsey, I can barely run a mile!". I know, I know. I've been there too. Here's why I recommend 3:
Your first race should be about 9-10 weeks for now. Sign yourself up for a race and get yourself on a couch to 5k plan. Follow the plan closely, don't skip the weight lifting days (can't emphasize this enough) and determine in advance that you will be super forgiving of yourself throughout the process. Your goal for this race is to finish.
Your second race should be 9-10 weeks after first first race. Find a more aggressive training plan and stick to it. Start to consider other things too like your sleep and diet habits. What changes can be made in other areas of your life to support your running journey? Your goal for this race should be to do it without stopping or walking.
Your third race should be 6-8 weeks after the last one. Again, bump up the intensity of your training plan. Your goal for this race is to beat the time of your previous two races.
I make these suggestions about 5ks because it has all the ingredients I love: it will challenge you, it will change you, you're setting a goal, you're investing in yourself and you're doing something you've never done before.
Good luck! I'll let you know when I consider myself to be a runner. Don't worry - all the above advice is still valid even if I don't think I'm a runner.
P.S. Take care of yourself during all of this. Don't hurt yourself in the process. Slow and steady wins EVERY race.
P.S.S. There's no better time to start than NOW. Whatever excuses you are already conjuring about why you can't start NOW, is BS. You can do this.