. I left you guys hanging with only 2 of Janie’s 3 posts in a series on running. [I've been away from my computer and all forms of internet now for about 4 weeks, and I'm just easing back into it. I'll let you know what I've been up to in my next post.]
. I won’t do much to introduce Jane Reneau again; I will however point you to her first two posts in the series — here and here. And, since she’s writing today about getting started in running, I’ll let you in on this little secret… Janie ran her first half-marathon at the age of 16. She placed last. Very last.
. But she still won her age group.
I started running somewhere around the age of 14. My mom had been running for several years by that point and I wanted to give it a try myself. The only way I knew to start was to simply start, to lace up my shoes, throw on my Umbros and a t-shirt, and run down the road. I used mailboxes as my measurement of distance and each day I tried to go one mailbox further than I had the day before. At the very least, I tried to reach the mailbox I’d run to the day before. I did not think about pace or how quickly I should reach the next mailbox, I just ran.
Before long I had a mile and then two. Before the time of GPS watches and Google pedometer, I used Mom’s routes which she measured in her car. I started running 5ks and even the occasional 10k, reaching 10 miles by the age of 16.
Today, there are all sorts of plans and programs to help new or returning runners reach their running goals. Programs such as “Couch to 5k” or “No Boundaries” take inactive and semi-active people and help them train to run a 5k.
My sister and I are approaching our fourth season as coaches for the No Boundaries program, and I really like the plan this program uses. It is a walk/run approach where the runner begins to lengthen the minutes spent running and shorten the minutes spent walking until they are running an entire 3 miles. This approach also allows runners to start where they are athletically. We have some folks who are literally coming straight off the couch and their bodies are not used to any physical exertion whatsoever. We also have those who are regular gym goers and they can usually run longer from the beginning.
For someone who is not very active, the training plan might look something like this:
Walk 2 minutes, run 1 minute – repeat 5 times. Do this 3 times a week.
Walk 2 minutes, run 1.5 minutes – repeat 6 times. Do this 3 times a week.
Walk 2 minutes, run 2 minutes – repeat 7 times. Do this 3 times a week.
Eventually, instead of repeating these sequences a certain amount of times, you would do them until you reached 1 mile, 1.5 miles, and then 2 miles. Also, the walking time would eventually move to 1 minute while the running minutes continued to increase. By the time the program reaches 2.5 miles, those with the goal to run the entire 5k are running most of the training runs.
Plans of this sort also exist for the 10k distance, half-marathons and marathons. So once you get started, the sky is the limit and you can find all the help you need in your local running community, online, or you can always e-mail me and I will be glad to help in any way I can. Or you can just use the mailbox method. There is no magic formula – it is about finding a good starting point that is doable, yet challenging.
As far as what you need to get started, I am not a huge fan of all the things your local running store will try to convince you are necessary to run down the road.
A good pair of shoes? Sure. Try some on and run around the store. Mine are usually a half size bigger than my non-running shoes. For beginners, I’d stay away from extra inserts of any kind unless prescribed by a doctor – and even then my opinion is that any injuries or discomfort are probably caused more by incorrect running form instead of a bad pair of shoes.
Maybe some running attire that makes you feel strong and athletic? Sure! You want something that is comfortable, loose, and you want to feel like you look good in it. Otherwise you won’t want to put it on and go workout. It sounds so silly, but it is true. How you feel about yourself affects how well you run and train. Having the right apparel will also help you run in less than pleasant conditions such as extra humid days or really cold ones.
For informational and motivational articles and such, visit www.runnersworld.com or www.active.com. Two books that I really enjoyed were “My Life on the Run” by Bart Yasso and “Born to Run” by Christopher McDougall. This last book addresses the issues of shoes and running form as well.
There is so much more, but for now I think that covers the basics. One last thing, however, is do not give up! Not every day is going to be easy or feel great. But there are days that will feel that way and both kinds will be totally worth it. Consistency is the key to getting better and hopefully, to falling in love with the sport. I have and it has enriched my life immensely. I pray it does the same for you!