Saturday, November 15, 2014

Learning to Run

Learning to Run - with Nicole!

I hated running. I HATED running. I frequently said things like "I could never run" or "over my dead body!" Until a warm day in May 2011. I decided that I needed to make a change in my life, and the first step would be to tackle an impossible challenge. I felt inspired to challenge myself to do something I though I could never do. So, I found a book called "The Beginning Runner's Handbook: The Proven 13-Week Run/Walk Program" by Ian MacNeill. I actually borrowed it from the library, read as much as I could, and photocopied the running programs at the back of the book.

The 13 week program started with running three times per week. The instructions for the first session were to "Run 1 Minute. Walk 2 Minutes. Do this 12 Times." 36 minutes! Seemed a little daunting to me. It seemed doable to me, I would only have to run for 1 minute at a time - surely I could do that! I stepped outside and started running. After approximately 45 seconds I was red in the face, gasping for breath, begging for my minute to be over. I was immediately slapped in the face with my own lack of fitness. Was I so out of shape that I couldn't even run 1 minute?! It appeared so. It was humbling. Right then and there I decided I wasn't going to give up, as much as I wanted to. I struggled through to 1 minute and just barely caught my breath during my 2 minutes of walking. After my 36 minutes I felt like crap. It was awful. No wonder I hated running - this was pure torture.

I completed my 13 week program and amazingly, found myself able to run 10 whole minutes (slowly - mind you!) with a 1 minute walking break in between. I could run 5 kilometres! I'm not going to pretend that it wasn't horrible, because it was. I hated every minute of it, but the feeling of accomplishment was worth every moment of agony. I kept at it, very slowly buildng my speed and distance.

I ran my first race in November of 2011. It was a 10 km "Clause Cause" fun run. It was very cold, but I have never felt more accomplished than I did when I crossed that finish line. I was officially hooked. I ran another 10 km in May 2012 and a fun 5 km race that following September. The next year, 2013, I decided to tackle the half marathon. I spent a significant of time outside preparing for the biggest challenge I had ever faced. On August 25, 2013 I ran the Edmonton Half Marathon and finished under my goal time. I couldn't believe that just over 2 years previously I couldn't run 1 minute straight without huffing and puffing, and here I was completing a half marathon!

I'll leave you with a few of my favorite running tips:

1. Download as much music as you can and constantly mix up your playlist with upbeat and inspiring songs that will help pull you through those difficult runs.
2. Drink lots of water! I don't bring water on my runs unless I'll be gone for an hour or more. However, I make sure I drink plenty of water leading up to the run, and afterwards.
3. Invest in good shoes. If you have a running specialty store in your area, it is worth spending the extra money to help prevent injuries.
4. Stretch! I rarely stretch before a run, but I always try to remember to stretch afterwards, you'll be glad you did.
5. Recruit a buddy! Even if you can find someone who will meet up with you once every 2 weeks, it will help inspire you to keep up with your training.

Hopefully I have inspired one person to try running, or at least take on a challenge that seems impossible. All it takes is approximately 45 minutes to an hour, three times per week. That's only 3 hours per week to change your whole life. It may seem like you don't have the time, but I believe everyone can find 3 hours per week, and I promise, it's worth it.

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