Thursday, May 17, 2012

5K Fit & Ready

Hopefully you've decided that you're joining the Love Fit Life Team for the PADRES 5K Run/Walk. Oh, you have? GREAT! Now we need to make sure we're prepared to cross the finish line...

Until about two years ago, I absolutely hated running. Not surprisingly (and like many things) my hatred was completely unfounded - I hadn't really ever tried it, I didn't have the right approach or motivation, and I didn't give credit to how much we and our opinions, desires, and preferences grow and change over time. So, I gave it a shot. I totally sucked, but at least I was outside, getting free exercise, and feeling much better. I decided to start small and pay close attention to my skill level, progress, and elements that I did and didn't like. Wondering what I'm talking about? Here are some examples:

My feet and ankles would be in pain when I ran... until I realized that my shoes were hurting me instead of helping me. I went to a great running store (that's now closed or I would shout out) and invested in the right pair of running shoes for me and my needs.

I would get SO bored and then distracted by changing my music all the time... until I started creating special running playlists and listening to 30-120 minute long podcasts that keep my mind focused and feet moving.

I would run alone (and thus, more bored) because I was too afraid that I couldn't keep up with my runner friends... until I recruited a non-runner friend to start running with me! By starting from square one together, we both felt free of judgment and pressure, which was perfect.

I would skip my planned run because I made excuses that I didn't know a good route or felt like I was running without a purpose... until I started using resources like Map My Run and Nike+GPS. I also realized that I did much better when I had a destination in mind that I could run to and from!

I would get discouraged because I wanted to prepare for the 3.1 mile 5K race I signed up for, but I didn't always know the distance I was running... until I started running with a time goal (like, I'm going to run for 10 minutes straight) instead of a distance goal. As a new runner and based on my skill level, I could pretty much count on running a 10-12 minute mile, so I progressively increased my run time goals until I was running for 30 minutes straight (which is exactly the time it took me to finish my actual 5K race).

I was upset that I didn't feel motivated to keep going and going and going (like a lot of runners I know)... until I came to terms with the fact that (at least right now), I like running shorter distances. Telling myself, "go for a 25 minute run" works so much better for me than deciding I'll just go out and run until I feel like stopping or setting unrealistic distance goals.

Based on my experience, here are my recommendations:

Just starting out?
Try to go running at least 3-4 days a week just to get yourself used to it. You don't have to go far and for very long. I started this way and set a minimum goal for myself to run for 5 minutes, 5 days a week - that probably seems like nothing to you, but it worked because I would go even if I didn't want to and I quickly started running 10 minutes at a time, then 15 minutes, then 20 minutes and so on.

Been running for a while?
Give yourself a goal to accomplish! For instance, since this is my 2nd 5K race, I want to run for better time instead of "just finishing" like I did for my 1st 5K. Also, be a good motivator, role model and mentor! There are a ton of people out there that could use your help - even if it's just a matter of calling up a friend and saying "hey, I'm going for a run Wednesday night and I want you to come."

Total pro who runs a marathon before breakfast?
Keep doing you thaaang... it must be working!

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