Getting Started with Running

Happy National Running Day! To celebrate this awesome day, I thought I’d share my initial infatuation with the sport and where I hope to go from here.

I love a good run. I really never thought I’d say that. Now, I’m training for two more 10 milers this summer {and maybe even a half marathon this fall!}.

When I first developed a weight loss strategy, running was part of my warm-up. I’d run for 5 minutes straight, at a fairly slow pace on a treadmill. Then, I’d lift some free weights. In high school, strength training helped me stay trim, so I thought I’d give it a shot when I was trying to lose my post-college weight {upwards of 40 pounds!} in fall 2008.

I didn’t love it then. Not at all. In fact, I almost dreaded it. Running was the beginning of each of my workout sessions, and I didn’t want to be there at all. It was hard changing my lifestyle at first, but I stuck with it. I forced myself to go to the gym, dragging anyone along with me {props to Shane for keeping me motivated in the very beginning!}.

I wasn’t concerned with miles at first, just time. I started with just five minutes, then gradually increased over a few months to 20 or 30 minutes. Slowly, I was gaining mileage, too.

I spent most of 2009 in a Zumba daze, having started taking classes, and then starting to teach my own! Running took a back seat to Zumba.

When I saw advertisements for a half marathon in Chestertown in September 2010, I decided to go for it. Part of it was craziness/impetuousness, and part of it was presenting myself with a real challenge.

By the time I signed up for the race in June, I was already running 5-7 miles at a time. Now, I started slow…just running for a certain amount of time. When I was able to run consistently for 30 minutes, I started thinking more about my mileage. Back then, 30 minutes of running would be 2 or 2.5 miles for me. When 2 miles was no longer a challenge, I moved it to 3 or 4 miles.

Then I took it outside. Oh, how I loved outdoor running! Once I started running outside in summer 2010, I started to ditch running on the treadmill. I loved the freedom of the open road, the smell of fresh air, the scenic routes through my neighborhood or by the Chester River.

The half marathon came around, and my training wasn’t quite complete. I’d only reached 9 miles total. I had no clue what I was doing, but decided to run the race anyway. And I finished it!

But boy, did it hurt. I was sore for a solid week after the race, a sign that I didn’t train hard enough for it. That winter, I stopped running. I think I was turned off to it after feeling super sore, and slightly hurting my leg during race.

I didn’t pick up running again until March 2011. My alma mater was hosting a 5k race (The Revolutionary 5K) and I wanted to participate! I kicked my training into gear again, this time following Hal Higdon’s 5k training plan. I felt ready, confident. And I won my age group!

The week after that race, my friend Amie {who just ran the Zooma 10K with me!} was coming to visit, and somehow we decided to run the big Chestertown Tea Party 5k. I ran it with a tiara and everything, since it was my birthday!

After this race, I hung up my shoes to focus on teaching summer fitness classes and grow my new classes at Kent Athletic. Then in Fall 2011, I ran two races, both 5ks: the Queen of the Roses in Chestertown and the Turkey Trot in Bel Air, MD.

I’d been bugging Shane to join me for a race, so when I came across Love the Run You’re With in Arlington, VA in February, I signed both of us up for it. {hehe!} I thought this could get my running jump-started for 2012!

It definitely did. After that race, I signed up for 3 spring races within the week. I mapped out a strong training plan that would allow me to continue teaching my fitness classes, keep up with my new Yoga practice, and strength train.

The rest is history! I fell in love with running. I loved setting goals, and meeting or surpassing them. I gave myself plenty of time in my training plan to reach 5 miles at a time, and I beat that by a few weeks. Now, 5 miles to me is a thrilling run. I find myself craving a run. And those races? Three races very quickly turned into 8. And I’m already looking at 4 or 5 more for this year…

But racing is just a small part of my love affair with running. I’d run even without a race on the horizon. Races just help keep me motivated to push myself harder, to go faster. I still can’t believe my progress with running in just a few short months!

Looking forward, I hope to run another half marathon, possibly even this year. I feel ready for it this time.

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