A few weeks back a wonderful lady named Alexandria sent me a request for a possible guest spot on my blog. After looking at what she wanted to post, I was more than willing and excited to agree. Where I am a runner focused on races, Alex is a runner focused on running for the sake of running. When I started and when I start over again each time I’ve been injured, I always kept my eyes and heart on the next “race”. Hopefully you will all find this different perspective a refreshing change of pace.
On Your Mark…Get Set…
There’s something special about running. It requires no equipment and can be done virtually anytime and anyplace yet it manages to engage nearly your entire body. Your quads, calves, hamstrings, and other lower body muscles work in harmony while calling on your core and upper body to stabilize you. It’s such a simple task and yet it’s almost artful when you think of the biological choreography taking place.
Running is a simple task in that you just have to pick up your feet and move, but it can also be intimidating. Whether you’re trying to get into running for the first time or simply re-entering the race after sitting on the sidelines for a while, the prospect of running can well, make you want to run away. The idea of you running seems less fun than funny. You may have found yourself thinking, “Me, a runner? Yeah, right! I’ll get right on that…and then I’ll do the moonwalk in my underwear in front of my boss.”
Trust me when I say this – it doesn’t have to be like that, not for running or any type of workout.
Once upon a time in a land far far away, but not so long ago lived a 21 year old who was 5’4 and weighed 187 pounds. She had been cursed to suffer with a “pleasantly plump” shape by two witches named Sedentary Lifestyle and Atrocious Eating Habits. Wait as she might on the couch in front of her television, no knight in shining armor rode to her rescue. She had to break the curse on her own. It was a quest that lasted over a year and, as is the nature of all great quests, she made many friends and learned a lot about herself. Today, that girl weighs 146 pounds, can run a mile in 8.5 minutes, and actually understands the foreign language of nutritional information. If you haven’t figured it out already…that girl is me.
For all of those similarly cursed, here are some tips on how I broke the spell and got back into running and working out:
1. Go! You can’t keep making excuses. Its super easy to do so and I bet that (like me) you can get really creative with what you tell yourself, but it has to stop. Whatever your motivation is for running chances are that someone is always going to be faster than you, better than you, look sexier in their workout gear than you do, and etc. You can’t let
any of that stand in your way.
Personally, my biggest excuse was that I just didn’t have the time. To overcome that excuse I killed two birds (or to stick with my fairy tale metaphor, two dragons) with one stone: I started working out for 30 minutes a day on my lunch hour and then eating at my desk afterwards. This got me moving 5 days a week and since I didn’t have time to go anywhere else, it prevented me from eating it out.
2. It’s time to get real(istic)! We’ve all heard the proverb that slow and steady wins the race and when you’re just getting into the race you need to keep that in mind. Understand that you aren’t going to start running and break the world’s record for fastest mile your first day. Set realistic goals and expectations. Doing anything else is like trying to run with your shoe laces tied together: You’re going to fall flat on your face.
The first time I went to the gym I figured out my BMI (body mass index), measurements, and how long it took me to run a mile. My BMI was 32 (putting me
in the “obese” category) and it took me 15 minutes to “run” a mile. I was disappointed in myself; after all, for a brief period in my school days I had run cross country – shouldn’t that have just come back to me regardless of how long I had sat on the sidelines?
I too had to get realistic. I started evaluating myself (BMI, measurements, and how long it took me to run a mile) once a month. I set small goals for myself. For instance, during that first month, my goal was to take 2 minutes off of my mile. I focused on taking steps – not leaps and bounds. There were still disappointments along the way, but they didn’t knock me on my butt.
3. Obsess much? Whether you’re running to get into shape or to enter a specific race/marathon, you’re not the energizer bunny and you can’t go 24/7. You have to allow your body to recover. Pushing your body to exhaustion everyday will lead to injuries – especially when you’re just getting started. Make sure you stretch, warm up, cool down, and take time off as needed. Try to make the whole thing fun. Listen to your favorite music while you run. Try to enlist your friends or family or join a “running club” so you aren’t out there alone.
Oprah Winfrey said, “Running is the greatest metaphor for life, because you get out of it what you put into it.” No quest is easy. If it was, we would all be lean, mean beacons of health and wellness. When it comes to running, if you work hard you WILL see results. Don’t be intimidated by the road less traveled…just remember to stretch first!
Post contributed by Alex Webb on behalf of Tristate Orthopaedic Treatment Center providing sports medicine to Cincinnati. Alex’s current fitness goal is to successfully complete the Run Like Hell 5K benefiting the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation this Halloween. Follow her on twitter @alexandriakwebb.