Feeling Fit is Feeling Good: How to Start Running

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Me after a 5k run in San Antonio wearing my fancy (and old in age but not in mileage) Brooks Glycerin 9 shoes.

Another strange admission from me: I am enjoying being fit. I can now do things I could never do before like run in and out of a store without breaking a sweat or even getting out of breath, climb (more like run up) stairs in a football stadium or at work without even raising my heart rate, or chase the dog around the house (his favorite game) without getting tired or winded.

Losing weight opened up so many possibilities for me, the last of which I expected to be feeling good when getting fit. As I am working toward getting more fit, I actually like the improvements and how my body feels. I miss it when I skip a day of running. My legs actually ache more when I don’t run than when I do. And when I increase the distance I run? I actually feel better.

Weird.

If you’re not a runner and you’re still reading this, I applaud you. It’s because you’re either curious, not believing what I’m saying (because you’ve heard me say time and time again how much I hate running) or because you want to try it yourself. If it’s the first two, I’ve got nothing. But if it’s the last reason, I’m happy to say that it’s possible for you to enjoy running to!

Here is what I recommend when getting started.

  1. Get good shoes. This is super important. Your feet are your vehicles, and they need to be protected as best as possible. If you can, go somewhere that fits shoes individually. It’ll cost a bit more than Payless or even Academy, but your feet are worth it. This is your most important investment.
  2. Start with a plan to run a short distance. If you can’t run more than, say, 100 yards without stopping, make a goal of running a quarter of a mile, or half a mile without stopping. The way you do this is to keep your pace, but chop your steps. Turn it into a jog. It’ll take longer, but you’re building the stamina.
  3. Don’t push too hard, too soon, and don’t expect immediate gains. This is going to take some time. Be okay with that up front. You’re not in a race here. Take it slow and easy.
  4. Increase your distance as you feel comfortable. If you make no distance improvements after some time, that’s okay too. Just increase only when you feel ready. Trust me; when your body is ready, it’ll WANT to run farther.
  5. Fake it ’til you make it. Hate running? I did too! What changed? I told myself that I have to like this. I need to run, and I need to do so at least 4-5 times a week. Why do something you hate? That’s one of the hardest things to do. I figured that I might as well enjoy running since I’ll be doing it so much, and guess what? I actually DO enjoy it now. It’s something I look forward to, and while I’m doing it, I feel myself being active and making progress toward being a more fit person.

There are so many more tips I can give for running, but I don’t want to overwhelm you. Start with those five and then come back for more tips. I’ll have some posted soon!

Running is getting easier

file_000-57I just looked it up in my Fitbit app: I began running on September 10th; that’s seven weeks ago. I’m astounded by the progress I’ve made in that short time. I have been purposefully taking it slowly and trying hard to not overdo it. In the past, my efforts in getting back into running were always derailed by my over-enthusiasm and injuring myself by doing too much too soon. Not this time.

My first run, looking back at it now, was laughably short: 1.63 miles. My pace was 12:17 which, compared with my last pace, was pretty slow. But at the time, my primary goal was to complete a run without stopping to walk. I wanted to do more than 1.5 miles and I wanted to run the entire time. I accomplished that goal and then let my legs rest for a day before going out again and aiming for more. I reduced my pace and increased the distance by a quarter of a mile. My main goal was to never give up and walk unless I injured myself. So far, I’ve been able to complete every run without walking.

My most recent run was an easy 3.12 mile run. My pace was a very comfortable 10:25 pace. I could have run faster, but since I plan on running 5 times this week, I decided to play it safe and run it easy. Tomorrow I will run an extra mile, so the pace may not be much faster, but adding 33% more to the run distance will be the extra effort for tomorrow. The following day, I may work on pace. We’ll see.

The bottom line, however, is that I’m now able to get out and run without it being a bad thing. It’s not something I dread. It’s not something that I feel horrible doing. What I didn’t expect was that the opposite happened: I actually enjoy it, and I feel good doing it. I look forward to it. After a few days off from running, I find myself waking up at night excitedly awaiting the alarm clock so I can begin my run. This is very weird to me; I’ve never felt this way about exercise before.

My ultimate goal is to run 4-5 miles daily 5-6 times a week. I don’t necessarily want to run marathons or half-marathons, but I would like to be fit. I like the way I feel after my runs, and when I need to run out to the car to get something and run back into a store, I’m not out of breath and sweaty. When I went to the Texas A&M football game last weekend, I was able to run 20 rows up to my seat without losing my breath. It was exhilarating! Having the stamina to do things that only a year ago were out of the question for me has really changed my outlook on life.

I know I’m a big proponent of using diet to change your health, and I still firmly believe, based on my own experience, that diet is more important for weight loss than exercise. However, adding exercise if you are able to engage in physical activity definitely improves your quality of life. I would never lie to you about something like this. I was the guy who swore off exercise at the beginning of my journey. I have seen the error of my ways, and I admit I was wrong. Get out there and move. Start by walking. Progress into jogging, and then if you’re able, into running. You won’t regret it.

Reddit Running’s Spotlight Runner: Me!

2016-11-04-07_34_05-peopleThis week, I was honored to be selected as Reddit Running’s Spotlight Runner (I’m Edge767 there). I was interviewed earlier this week, and the interview went live today.

Of all the things to happen to me in the past year, this is the least expected and most surprising to me. Besides the fact that I never thought I’d be a runner, and that I found how much I enjoy it, to be selected as a part of that group to be spotlighted after running again for just under two months is really special. I feel like even at my slow pace, I’m making advances and achieving goals nearly every time I’m out there hitting the pavement. To me, that’s what’s special about my journey, right now.

So, if you want to see what  I have to say on the subject of running from being interviewed by a runner, head over to Reddit and check it out.