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1st 5K

After mentioning the completion of my first 5K a few weeks ago, I received some questions regarding my training. I thought it would be most helpful to just lay everything out in post form for ease of reference. FYI: I’ve always been a physically active person but never by means of running. This information is meant for novice runners like me whose goal is to run an entire 5K. If you have any running experience you may find these tips to be too rudimentary. On your mark. Get set. Let’s go!

1. Runner-friendly apps. When I signed up for the 5K, I had no idea how to train for a long distance race. I had no internal gauge to determine how fast or how far I was running. (Spoiler alert: I was slow and not running very far at all.) Steve downloaded 5K Runner onto my iPhone and I used it for the first month or so of my training. It’s basically an audio coach that talks you through a walk / run / walk workout three times per week. For the first 2-3 weeks, I was extremely discouraged. I could finish the workouts but felt completely spent during and after. My breathing was erratic when I ran. My legs hurt like crazy all the time – even on my rest days. I was seriously doubting my ability to run 3+ miles without stopping to walk when I could barely finish a 1-mile walk / run at a snail’s pace. I said things to myself like, “I’m just not a runner.” “Something isn’t right. My legs aren’t supposed to hurt this badly.” “It doesn’t feel natural when I run.” “I can always back out.” I even half-wished I would pass out like I used to so I would have an excuse not to run.

But somewhere around the 4-week mark of training, I noticed a shift. I had more control over my breathing. My legs weren’t hurting as much. I was experiencing natural “highs” after my runs which kind of made me look forward to the next run. Instead of focusing on how far away I was from my goal, I was able to reflect on how far I had come.

The kids and I visited my grandparents in Florida in early August. I mistakenly forgot to pack my phone. My first thought was, “Well, guess I won’t be able to run because I can’t run without someone / something telling me when and how.” It was a lame excuse and I knew it but that was my rationalization. Then I saw my grandma (who had a knee replacement last year) waking up early every morning to meet her girlfriends at the neighborhood pool for water aerobics and I thought, “If she can do that, I can make an effort to run a few times this week.” And so I did.

Without my 5K Runner app, I decided to borrow a wristwatch from my grandma and run until I needed to walk. To my surprise, I ran for 11 minutes without walking! It was the longest continuous run I had completed. I walked for two minutes then ran for another eight. My phone showed up in the mail a few days later but I ditched the 5K Runner app and stuck to my 20-25 minute wristwatch workout, running until I absolutely had to walk, walking for 1-2 minutes then finishing with a shorter run. By the end of my visit, I could run ~15 minutes without stopping to walk.

When I returned home, I added Map My Run to my phone to document my routes, distances, splits and overall times. I was running 2-3 times per week. Seven weeks into my training, I was able to run two miles without stopping to walk. That was the moment when I actually believed I could reach the 3.2-mile mark if I kept at it. I gradually added snippets of distance to those two miles and I completed my first unofficial 5K two and a half weeks before the race.

2. Runner-friendly gadgets. Starting out I ran with my phone in hand and the volume on high so I could hear the audio coach. Steve made fun of me and quickly bought an armband holster for my phone. (For the record, he’s the gadget lover in the relationship. I avoid them at all costs.) I tried adding a pair of basic ear buds from our junk drawer but I was continually adjusting them so they wouldn’t fall out, which they did regardless. And what to do with the dangling, bouncing wires?! It was annoying. Reluctantly, I shelled out money for wireless bluetooth earphones. They made me a gadget lover. They didn’t fall out (they come with ear buds and ear loops in various sizes for a custom fit) and they blocked out the sound of my ragged breathing. Not being able to hear myself breathe made such a difference to me! It’s as if I couldn’t hear how tired I was. The wireless aspect was completely freeing, too. I could focus on my form and pace instead of wrangling wires.

3. The right footwear. As mentioned above, pain in my legs from the knees down was my biggest hurdle early on. I had expected some pain but this was almost unbearable at times. I tried improving my gait by emphasizing a midfoot strike. It definitely felt better than my natural (i.e., very wrong) side-to-side stride but I was still in pain.

I did some reading online and determined improper support of my high arches was partly to blame. It probably didn’t help that I didn’t own true running shoes. I read a bunch of reviews online and ordered a pair of Brooks Pure Cadence 2 running shoes. I didn’t care what color they were. I just ordered the cheapest ones in my size from Amazon. I loved them right out of the box. There was no break in period, no blisters. With proper cushioning in all the right places, my gait improved even more. Maintaining proper running form required less effort and felt “natural” for the first time in my life. (I followed these guidelines for proper running form.) The pain in my knees, shins and feet improved almost immediately. My arches never felt better.

However, the pain in my calves did not improve. In fact, I even experienced intense swelling at one point. My legs never swelled during any of my pregnancies, but the pain reminded me of how my legs used to feel after a 12-hour workday standing in the pharmacy while pregnant. Back then, I wore compression stockings for relief. I wondered if it would be weird to wear them while running. A quick Amazon search revealed that compression socks for runners actually do exist! I had no idea. I snagged a highly rated pair of performance run socks in pink. (Because it was the cheapest color and I don’t care what I look like when I run.) THESE SOCKS WERE GAME CHANGERS! For me, the claims of more comfort, less fatigue and quicker recovery completely held up in real life. It should come as no surprise that my first run in the socks was the 11-minute wristwatch run I mentioned in #1. Sometimes I even wore them for comfort on rest days. #sohot

4. Ideal running conditions. At first, I ran whenever I had a break in my schedule. The kids were home from school for the summer and squeezing in a run wasn’t always easy. I ran when I could. It didn’t take me long to figure out I was NOT a night runner. I didn’t like not being able to see what was around me and I had trouble falling asleep afterwards. Running in the stifling hot summer afternoons was excruciating. Also, I learned that running shortly after eating gave me intense runner’s heartburn. For these reasons, I made every effort to get my runs in first thing in the morning. Later on as summer dwindled and the temps cooled, I was able to go for pleasant afternoon runs but morning time really was my running sweet spot.

When I started training, I had visions of running in all these cool places around my city. But what I realized was that if the location required me to get in a vehicle, I was less likely to run. It seemed like too much effort. Eventually, I settled on a route in my neighborhood. (After all, a legit running club runs through our ‘hood every Tuesday.) It’s mostly flat and quiet with little to no traffic and the kicker is that it’s just steps from my front door.

I had a few friends offer to run with me but I never took them up on it. For one, I thought I was so terrible that I would hold them back. But mostly I preferred running alone. It was me time, albeit grueling. (That might be an introvert thing.)

So, yeah, my ideal running conditions involved cool temps in the morning, an empty stomach, my trusty neighborhood route and just me. That’s when I felt and did my best. (Luckily, the conditions of the real race were quite similar.) Once I tried a different route on a HOT afternoon and it went horribly. There were hills, a construction zone, heavy traffic and no shoulder to run on. I walked a lot and it took me >45 minutes to finish. I vowed never to take that route again.

5. Patience. I don’t like doing things I’m not good at. It’s one of the reasons I didn’t attempt to run before this summer. (Fear was the other big factor.) I’m old enough to know that accomplishing a lofty goal requires hard work and time. I knew training for a 5K would be strenuous physically. I knew I wouldn’t be able to run 3 miles overnight. I gave myself ten weeks to train for the race. Still, I expected to see results sooner than I did. I had no choice but to be patient with my progress. I’m not going to lie. The first month sucked. Big time. I couldn’t run longer than a minute without needing to stop and walk at least the same amount of time or longer. The entire time I was running, I couldn’t wait to walk. I told Steve I would rather go through another au naturel birth than run a 5K. That’s where #6 came in and kept me going.

6. Inspiration. I found inspiration everywhere. For starters, Steve organized the Lift Up Autism 5K. I watched him spend so much of what little free time he had setting up an event website, getting people registered, creating the race route, organizing a group of volunteers, contacting sponsors, etc. all for a good cause and I wanted to support him. I also found it extremely inspiring to read about others’ first 5Ks. There’s a lot to be found by googling “first 5K race.” Dipping into others’ experiences helped me focus on endurance, reaching that 3.2 mile mark and finishing strong with a smile on my face.

I thought about my childhood neighbor and friend who now has the extremely challenging job of raising three children, two of which are severely autistic.

I thought about my dear girlfriend who experienced a traumatic labor and delivery which ultimately resulted in her losing her baby the same day he was born.

I thought about my own son, Layne, who was once on the autism spectrum and has grown into the most intelligent and sweetest ten-year-old I know.

I thought about my kids seeing me cross the finish line.

When my legs wanted to stop I thought about all the chronically ill people who would give anything to have healthy, tired legs.

During one run in Florida, I had just reached my goal for the day when a golf cart passed me carrying a severely disabled elderly woman. I was so ready to quit but I ran another two minutes just for her.

During a run in my neighborhood, I passed an elderly woman who frequently runs in the area. She looks as if she’s been a runner all her life and has the injuries and crippled posture to show for it. I had only planned on running 2 miles that day but ended up running 2.5 in honor of her.

During a week that Steve was out of town for work, the only way I could get in my run was to push Mabrey in a (non-jogging) stroller. The stroller is over a decade old. It’s the only stroller we’ve ever owned. The wheels are terribly squeaky and I fear it could collapse at any moment. That stroller was all over the road that day! I kept thinking it was too hard to run behind but then I thought about Mabrey and I wanted her to see me do something difficult. I finished a 5K run that day. Mabrey had no clue. She just liked going fast. The next time I ran stroller-less, it was so easy relative to that stroller run.

You get the point. Inspiration is everywhere if you want to find it. It’s yours for the taking. Use it to do good, hard things.

1st 5k 3

I completed a total of three 5K runs before the actual race. I posted a PR of 25:09 on race day. Out of 70 participants, I placed second. I was the first woman to cross the finish line. And I did it with a smile on my face.

After the race, my sister (who is an avid runner and has completed several marathons) asked me if I was hooked. I’m not entirely sure what my relationship with running is from here on out. I feel great. I’m probably in the best conditioning shape of my life. The fighter in me wants to get my time down but I don’t want chronic injuries. That being said, I ran a mile “for fun” this past weekend and posted my best mile time ever – 7:14. I read somewhere that a 37- to 41-year-old is in the top 1% of their age group if they can run a mile in 6:48 or better. I turn 37 next month. I kinda want to try. For fun.

For me, the weirdest part about all of this is that I run for fun now?! Who am I.

Reading others’ experiences inspired me so much and I want to pay it forward. Have you ever completed a 5K? What were your training must-haves? One more thing: Do you use a music app or create playlists for running / working out? That’s the one thing I haven’t been able to nail down. Any songs you would recommend? I’m all ears. Hehe.

69 Comments

06.October.2015

I was a non-runner who really tried to love running. Even completed a half marathon before I just accepted it was not my fitness method of choice. However, I’m still in love with the idea of being a “runner.” Anyway, Spotify is awesome for workout playlists. I’m sure you know all about it, but I was just recently introduced. You can follow any playlist it has on it, download it for use when you are offline or without service, and anytime you plug your phone back in it automatically updates the list with any new songs its added. The TGIF one has been great for our crossfit classes. Happy running!

Latest Post: An Italian Wedding ~ http://thebarnnc.blogspot.de

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replied on October 6th, 2015

Thanks for the rec Lauren! I like the idea of listening to an already curated playlist. Most of the music I listen to in everyday life is too slow for running so I need someone else to find good running music for me.

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06.October.2015

I have always loved running, although long distance was not my forte until I was in my 40’s and I didn’t get into it that much until my husband and I signed up with a team to run the American Odyssey Relay 2011 and 2012. I was 51 by then and old enough to be everybody’s mother on our team of 12! It was one of the most fun things I have ever done!! We covered 200+ miles from Gettysburg PA to Washington DC in a nonstop, overnight relay (our team finished in just under 30 hours!). I’m now 55 and try to do little 2 mi runs 4-5 times a week. Keep moving everybody!! Taking ASEA everyday since Feb 2013 has been a blessing; more stamina, easier breathing, fantastic recovery – rarely sore after strenuous workouts. Lots of pro athletes and Olympic athletes are on ASEA Redox Signaling Molecules. It’s native to the body… and RENU 28 (same molecules in gel form) is wonderful for skin health. Congratulations on your very successful 5K, Dana!

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replied on October 6th, 2015

Way to go Sandy! That overnight run sounds epic.

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06.October.2015

Congratulations! I’m a long time runner (three season of track in high school, followed by a long hiatus and now a frequent runner who manages a casual running club), and I love hearing about folks who have found running and what it can bring to their lives! And you’re clearly a natural runner – shoes really do make all the difference, but dang girl! first overall woman in your first 5k is no joke! Way to go!

I always joke that there are cat runners and dog runners – cat runners like to go solo and be left alone to do their own thing on their runs, dog runners like the social aspect and always want to be running with their buddies. It turns out that you can switch back and forth between the two though! I’m definitely a dog runner first – I need/want the accountability and motivation of running with others, and getting in a nice long catch up with my friends makes a run fly by….but I spend a few months every year just wanting to use my run time to be alone with my thoughts or listening to podcasts or music.

Congrats again!

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replied on October 6th, 2015

I love the analogy of dog and cat runners. So true! I never thought about switching back and forth. Might have to try it. Thank you!

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06.October.2015

Your time is pretty amazing for any age – and the fact that you never ran before this makes it even more awesome! I agree with Sarah that you must have a gift for running, because going out and hitting a 25 minute 5K like that just isn’t done by normal people! LOL My girlfriends and I are all in our 30s and we run in a running club for fun. Any time we dip down into the 8 minute mile range is a cause for celebration :)

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06.October.2015

I am getting ready to start training for a 5K, so this was super helpful. My hubby is a runner (has his first marathon in just under a month! So excited/nervous for him!), so your post actually gave me some ideas for gifts for him (those earbuds! He might love them).

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replied on October 6th, 2015

Best of luck to you and your hubby! xx

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06.October.2015

cheers for sharing your difficulties as well as your triumphs! I was in a similar boat regarding ambivalence toward running. I started training with a friend—just the one, and he was equally ambivalent, but we shared the same goal, so there was no worry of slowing anyone down. I’ve done three 5ks now, and I ran the last one without stopping to walk at all.

I’ve found the 30-20-10 interval training works great for me. Google it! (I think it’s typically 10-20-30 but that’s backwards relative to what you actually do.) it’s an extremely manageable and effective interval training to improve time without you having to be the Valedictorian of Running.

And as to the inspiration, I’m the same. I think about my mother in law who was on the best shape of her life when she was diagnosed with breast cancer for the second time. She passed away a year ago, and I run for her. I run for my sons. My 7 year old has begun training with my hubs and I love watching them post these awesome fun run times together. In fact, I ran my personal best mile time just so I could see Ethan finish his first fun run—as the first place finisher in fact.

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replied on October 6th, 2015

Go mama! I think it’s great that your kids see you and your husband being active.

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06.October.2015

WOW! Your time is amazing! And your story is both encouraging as well as comforting for how much I struggled in the beginning.

I’m 31 and a year and a half ago I wanted to start doing something for exercise. I was never a runner but was terribly out of shape and just wanted to do something without having to spend a ton of money on a gym membership, bike, etc. without knowing if I could stick with it. I started out running/walking in the mornings and I just told myself I was going to stay out there for 45 minutes, running until I needed to walk and then walking until I could run again. I usually couldn’t get but a minute or two in without having to walk and it would take 10 minutes or more to be able to try and run again. I was really discouraged but just made myself focus on being active for 45 minutes and ignoring how much of that time was running and how much was walking. The first time I ran a whole mile without having to walk was the greatest feeling ever! I got new shoes (Asics that I love) and you are so right about it making all the difference. I never tried compression socks but they sound like they could really help. I would use the Nike Run app and I really liked it just for keeping track of times, PRs and overall miles ran. And I too would hold my phone with earbuds in, I just couldn’t get used to one of those arm bands. I would usually always run to Kanye (I don’t even listen to him in real life – but it worked for running?!) and I would keep my favorite songs for when I knew I would be toward the end of my run to help motivate me to keep going. I eventually managed to run a 5K (just the distance, not an actual race) a couple of times and my best time was 37:15. I could always improve my distance but not so much my speed.

After several months I stopped running because as much as I wanted to be a “runner” I just never really liked it even though I liked feeling accomplished. Maybe I plateaued and just gave up to early, I don’t know. I did start lifting weights though and fell in love! I feel like I’ve finally found my fitness niche (probably similar to the way you’ve mentioned loving tennis). You are definitely motivating me to give running a try again. Now that it is getting cooler out it might be easier because I could run in the afternoon/evenings. I would always run in the morning because it was cooler and I couldn’t stand running in the hot humidity that is the south during the summer.

Anyways sorry for that long, rambling running-life story. But thank you so much for sharing your running journey! It is very encouraging to know you struggled in the beginning and that it wasn’t just me. And keep us posted on how it goes in the future and if you decide to stick with it! And I LOVE your house, style and blog but it’s funny that some of my favorite posts end up being the real life “behind the scenes” stuff like this :)

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replied on October 6th, 2015

What a great idea to save the best songs for last! I never thought of that. I’m going to give the Nike app a try. I’ve heard so many good things about it from several people. One of my favorite things about running is that it has had a tremendous positive effect on my tennis game. For that reason alone, I will probably stick to running at least a few miles every week. Thanks for sharing your running experience!

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06.October.2015

I had never been particularly active or athletic growing up and I would have shooting pains in my calves and knees when I did have to run for gym in school. It wasn’t until I was in my 20’s that I gave running a real try. I got proper running shoes and the results were dramatic! I never have pain anymore.

I stopped working out once I had my son and have felt “blah” for over a year until I finally bit the bullet and signed up for a training program at my local running store. I missed that runner’s high! I was surprised how well I jumped back into it and even completed a 5k on my birthday a few weeks ago. I did better than I thought but hope to beat that time at the next race. My husband is athletic (played lacrosse in college and has done a couple sprint triathlons) and we want to set a good example for our son and take care of our bodies and health.

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It’s so crazy how similar our experiences are. Chris and I ran our first 5k race this summer, too! I’ve always been active, but never a runner. I used the same app and had trouble running longer than a couple minutes at first, too. We finished the race. And I felt amazing and accomplished and strong. But, I don’t care if I never run again. hahaha

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replied on October 6th, 2015

;)

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06.October.2015

I hate running, but I love stats and personal records, so beating the clock by running races is my only motivation. My pace has suffered as a result of a bad ankle injury last year, but since I am turning 30 in November (!!) I have been trying to do a bunch of races as it is my last year in the 25-29 age category! BUT, women reaching their running peak in their 30s! I am going to be doing a half marathon in a couple of weeks, and I’m dreading it/looking forward to crossing it off the bucket list.

We have a 5K race in Toronto here on St. Patrick’s Day which fundraises for Achilles Canada, an organization that supports disabled athletes. The race is truly inspiring (and humbling) to run with so many people of different abilities, including visually impaired runners and amputees. How can I stop now?!

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06.October.2015

I have two dogs (malamutes) so I alternate between them to go on runs. They are my motivation because I always feel guilty for not taking them out more than i feel guilty for skipping a work out. It’s always easier to put other’s needs before your own, but in this case it benefits me too! I second giving Spotify a look as they have lots of work out playlists and even have some based on your running speed. I tried their playlists but I hate running through a song I don’t like or is too slow when I really need a boost – and changing the song mid stride is distracting to me. I actually like listening to NPR or Supreme Court decision podcasts – I’m probably in the minority though. I like them because they do a good job in distracting me and I think more about what they’re talking about than how long I’ve run or how tired I am. When I listen to music I tend to start counting songs to figure out how long I’ve been running. Also I prefer the thin running belts over the arm bands because I can carry doggie bags and my phone – also i hate the sweaty arm bands.

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replied on October 6th, 2015

I do the same thing…subconsciously count songs. Ironically, I’ve found that I run faster when I don’t like the music. Like you, I don’t change it mid-run (too awkward) but run faster hoping it will end sooner. I should try listening to NPR. I love NPR.

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06.October.2015

Congratulations!!!!! You must feel so great setting a goal and working tirelessly to achieve it!

I started training for a 5k three years ago with a local running store. We were ladies of all ages and shapes, it was a great environment with everyone genuinely excited to see others improve. I loved running/walking with them three days a week. On the day of the 5k it was very cold, the air hurt your lungs cold. I saw an older lady in my group was lagging a little behind so I stayed with her. My form was great but after running two miles straight I started to feel very dizzy. I cheered her on but told her I needed to take a break on the side of the course. Long story short, I walked the rest, didn’t feel right, went home and decided to run to the fire station to check my vitals. They put me in the back of the ambulance and my heart rate was 219. From there I spent three days in the hospital and was diagnosed with SVT. It was terrifying. I had episodes all the time and felt like I was going to die. I was petrified to be alone with my kids in case I had an episode. Finally, I found an amazing Dr. and had a cardiac ablation almost a year ago today. I feel great and reading your story has reminded me how much I enjoyed running. Thank you for the inspiration :)

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replied on October 6th, 2015

Ah, another SVT survivor! So nice to meet you. I had a lot of fear going into training. Every run in my life before that point ended much like your experience above. I, too, was afraid to be alone with my baby, worried I would pass out while carrying him or driving or supervising him around stairs, etc. Ablation cured my arrhythmia but it took me another 9 years to get up the courage to run. I hope you have a successful run very soon :)

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06.October.2015

I started running over three years ago, because I wanted to participate in a runDisney half marathon. 10 half marathons, and 4 10k events later; to say I’m hooked is an understatement.

I’ve been using Nike+ from the beginning. I love that it syncs my playlists and tracks all of my runs. I love that it has features you can turn on/off depending on how much or little feedback you’d like during the run. It has a coaching feature that I tried before but didn’t like very much (it pushes training for a casual half marathon or 10k a little far IMHO). The challenge and friends features are great.

The newest feature has a spotify sync, so spotify can find the tunes you love in the tempo you are running. I haven’t tried it but my trainer has recommended it. Also, if you use a garmin you can sync your runs to Nike+ – if you aren’t into using your phone while running. Or if you want a little more tech feedback during your run (splits, beeps when you are running slower than your average).

I hit some speed bumps (har har) getting up to 10+ miles pain free, and I finally went to see a trainer about my form, cadence, and strength. She made a tailored plan for strength training, and gave me visual aids to help me re-set to proper form while I was running (like imagining flashlight beams shooting out of my toes and pointing forward). It has made a world of difference as far as hip and back pain are concerned – and speed! My insurance covered several visits under “Physical Therapy”, all I had to pay was the co-pay.

I love brooks pureflows, but they are cheaper because they last about 250 miles – which is fine, but something to keep in mind. Another nice thing about Nike+ is that it tracks your shoes, so you know when it is time to replace.

Anyway, motivation: finisher medals. I particularly enjoy runDisney medals and events. Nowadays I even settle for local runs (I live in Salt Lake City) for spectacular views and nice enough medals (nothing beats runDisney medals), but a medal is a medal!

Welcome to the crazy runner club!

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replied on October 6th, 2015

Love all these tips! Thanks so much for commenting.

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06.October.2015

This post is so inspirational. I’ve always hated running. I’ve tried a couple times to work at it, and always stopped after 2 weeks or so because I was frustrated and felt like I wasn’t making progress. Your experience of running for a full minute and feeling relief when you could slow down to a walk resonated with me :) Maybe I should try again, and be more patient and understanding with myself. Also, thanks for saying you’re still not sure you’re a running convert. I don’t feel like I’ll ever consider myself a “runner”…I’d just like to be able to run without feeling like I’m going to pass out.

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replied on October 6th, 2015

I hear you loud and clear. Still can’t say that I like running but I do feel great. It’s pretty awesome to do something I thought I couldn’t do. Something I couldn’t even do in my teens! Running without feeling like you’re going to pass out is a worthy goal. Go for it!

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06.October.2015

I’ve been running since high school, with varying degrees of effort and consistency, but it’s my go to fitness routine now that I’m staring at 50. I don’t love running, but I do like the results, being outside and the efficiency. I’ve never used headphones or listened to music. I have a dog that greets me with my running shoe in her mouth when I get home, so that’s a great motivator! Kudos to you and everyone who keeps moving!

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06.October.2015

I just wanted to say I’ve been really inspired by your story. I’ve been a cyclist for many years (10+), but have been pretty burnt out on bike racing lately, and apparently only know how to exercise when I’m training for something! I had been working on running 1/week, but seeing your story inspired me to kick that up. Planning to do my first 5k on Thanksgiving morn! Thanks for sharing your insights!

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replied on October 6th, 2015

Eye on the prize ;)

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06.October.2015

you LOOK like a professional runner! I’ve been running for almost 10 years and have never looked as good as you in my race photos! ha! Anyway, congrats! I always love reading about folks who have become runners and their story. Keep it up, that high will only feel more amazing :)

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replied on October 6th, 2015

Thanks lady! x

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06.October.2015

Don’t think if you take up running you will have chronic injuries, not sure why you think that might happen per your last paragraph. Running can be injury free for you whole life if you are smart about your running. I have been running since jr. high, so 25+ years and never once had a chronic injury, maybe aches and pains, but being smart about my training helped those go away. Now my husband and I do Triathlons, but my first love is and always will be the quiet, long run outside, taking in nature, fresh air and all the beauty!

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replied on October 6th, 2015

Any advice for running smart to avoid injury?

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replied on October 9th, 2015

My husband is an avid runner for many years & has avoided any chronic injuries. I think his secrets are simple stuff:
–Replace your shoes often: everyone is different for when their shoe’s cushioning runs out & the pain creeps in, based on your particular choice of shoe, your weight, and the way your feet strike the ground. Keep track of your mileage and if you start feeling aches in your legs/knees, it’s time to replace…next time, replace them a few miles short of when you felt the pain.
–Take care of small issues before they become bigger issues: don’t ignore aches/pains. Work on them with stretching, stick rollers, foam rollers, etc. Consider regular stick/foam rolling of your legs after every run. If you have a particular chronic issue, consider regular massage therapy, particularly with someone that regularly works with athletes.
–Do other stuff: I’m sure your tennis will help with this, but in running, you always work the same muscles which can lead to overuse injury. Doing something else to work other accessory muscles will keep you stronger. Biking seems to be a great cross-training activity for runners.

Have fun out there!!

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replied on October 9th, 2015

Yes, everything that Mandy said and a few others.
1. Stretching after a run or Yoga are great at keeping muscles loose and primed.
2. I really recommended getting fitted for running shoes at a local running store. They can analyze your gait and help you find the best shoe for your feet, level of experience, mileage, ect. Running the the correct shoes will help keep injuries away.
3. If you want to run longer, increase your mileage in small increments. The rule of thumb is an increase of 10% or I would say 10 minutes in your case.
4. You like running alone, but sometimes it is great to have a group to run with. Motivation, inspiration and people to bounce things off of running related and otherwise. Some of my closest friends I found through my local running group, Moms Run This Town, which is all over the country and FREE!
4. Have fun!!

06.October.2015

wow you look so fit! hard to believe that you are not a runner :) i was in the same boat. i hated running and felt spent after 1/2 a mile. i thought runners were crazy! but it’s weird something switched in me when i turned 40. the endorphins from working out, i look forward to it. i feel like when i run it really clears my head and i feel so much better. so now at 41, i run a 5k every weekend and training for my first 10K!

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replied on October 6th, 2015

Way to go! So far, I have no desire to run more than a 5K. Best of luck on your 10K!

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06.October.2015

Well done Dana.

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06.October.2015

I loved reading this! So inspiring to so many people. I had a very similar experience about a year ago. Never ran a race, decided to try it and was hooked. Before I knew it I had signed up for a half marathon. Signing up happened six months before the race so I had lots of time to train but I stopped running for three months. I think I was putting so much pressure on myself. Everything ended up working out and I ran the race, and was proud of my time, but it was all because I decided to stop timing myself, and tried to go by feel instead. That is the biggest piece of advice I can give. If you want to stick to it, do it because you love it. Do things that you love while running. Maybe you like speed work, do that. Maybe you enjoy slow, long runs, do that. When you make it a chore and put pressure on yourself, you begin to hate it. I am 40 years old and have been running for a year (minus those three months). I just ran the same race I did a year ago (a 5K) and averaged a seven minute mile. I totally believe I did this because I started running for the pure joy of it. If I can do it, anyone can! I hope you post more about running in the future.

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replied on October 8th, 2015

7:00 average mile time?! That’s AMAZING! You are awesome and so inspiring. Definitely going to keep your experience and advice in mind as I figure out where me and running go from here. xx

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06.October.2015

Wow, just wow! Congrats to you.

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06.October.2015

I’ve been thinking about this post all day. My 6th grader is (reluctantly) on the cross-country team this year, and to keep him motivated I’ve been running with him on the weekends…except I’m not a runner. But these short runs with lots of walking have been pretty fun and not terrible. Feeling motivated to keep at it now. Definitely think I need to register for a run to have a goal. Thanks so much for sharing your story, Dana!

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06.October.2015

I like to create a playlist! Some music that I love to run/workout to = the mashup genius – Girl Talk, Me First and the Gimme Gimmes, Michael Jackson’s greatest hits, Madonna’s Immaculate Collection, Dixie Chicks, Ludacris, Taylor Swift, Fugazi’s 13 Songs album, Bruce Springsteen’s greatest hits, Kacey Musgraves, Face to Face, and The Cars to name a few ;-)

I’m not a long distance runner, but I do have a few friends that are running machines. They will create a playlist where the music is fast or upbeat for some formulated amount of time/mileage and then they will queue slower songs to let their bodies rest while running a little slower. And then the cycle repeats itself.

Hope this helps :-)

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06.October.2015

I read your post this morning and have been thinking about it since then but especially during my run tonight. I started the 5K Runner program last week and have noticed enough small progress to keep moving. I am, by nature, a lazy person but a combination of turning 30 soon, having a second baby and struuuuuuuugling with the baby weight, and needing to keep up with two boys kicked me into high gear. I’m glad to know that at some point it won’t feel like such a struggle!

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replied on October 8th, 2015

Keep going, mama!

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06.October.2015

Congrats Dana! Ive been running casually since my 80 year old dad asked me to complete a 10 km with him three years ago. Talk about motivation for training. There was no way I could not complete that run if my dad could do it!
We’ve run the same 10km Fun Run together each year since then, often joined by my neices and nephew. Priceless memories and it is indeed been my dad’s gift to me.
I swear by the Nike app as well but am looking for more music inspo.
By the way, Im turning 45 next week and hoping to keep this up till Im 80 too!

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07.October.2015

I love your running story! It makes me remember how I started running over 15 years ago. I had asthma as a kid, and was never able to run in P.E. As I went through high school and then college I started to exercise some but I never thought I could run. Then, after college my now-husband and I moved to Rochester, NY together and learned what long winters and lots of hot wings can do to your fitness level! Somewhere along the line, he decided to train for a marathon, and I decided I’d try to run a little too. It was hard so hard at first. The cold air made it painful to breathe in the winter, and the fresh-cut grass made me wheeze in the summer. But so much of exercise is mental, and the more I challenged myself the more I started to change my view of what I could and couldn’t do. Like you, I found motivation in the people around me, and soon I had run my first 10k. I went on to fall in love with fitness and go back to school to get a degree in exercise physiology. Eventually I ran two half marathons, and numerous 5k races. I was never very fast, or able to log great distance, but I always loved how strong and fit running made me feel.

The past few years I’ve struggled with the after affects of three c-sections and a hip surgery, all of which have resulted in a web of back, hip, and abdominal disfunction I’m still working to unravel. I can’t run yet, but when I’m walking on the trails near my house I imagine my body running–I can even hear the rhythm of my pace on the gravel–and I know I’ll get back to it some day. I’d love to be able to run a little with my kids, who don’t really remember me when I was strong and fit.

Now, down to your need for music! I never had much luck with apps or spotify or anything like that, but as a former RPM instructor (it’s like spinning) I’ve got some experience finding music for exercise. I’ve found the stuff I like while working out is pretty different from what I listen to the rest of the time. A few of my favorites that have a great beat or an inspiring message: Tik Tok, Kesha; In One Ear, Cage the Elephant; Close to Me, the Cure; You’re Gonna Go Far, The Offspring; Take My Hand, Simple Plan; How You Remind Me, Nickelback; Runnin’ Down a Dream, Tom Petty; Home, Paul Van Dyk feat. Johnny McDaid; So What, Pink; How Far We’ve Come, Matchbox Twenty; Viva La Vida, Coldplay; Dance Floor Anthem, Good Charlotte; Let Go, Paul Van Dyk feat. Rea Garvey; New Future Weapon, Billy Idol; Painkiller, Freestylers. Whew! Hope you find a winner or two in that list. Good luck!

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replied on October 8th, 2015

Thank you so much for sharing specific songs! I discovered early on that my everyday music isn’t great running music :/ I’ll have to try these!

Best of luck healing. I hope you feel strong again one day.

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07.October.2015

Thanks Dana! After this post I will start running….today!

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07.October.2015

Hi,
Wondering if you could tell me the size you bought for the compression socks. I am skinny legged and not sure if I should get small or medium. Also, I have high arches and narrow feet – is that why you bought the Brooks Cadence?

Thanks!

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replied on October 8th, 2015

I googled a 2XU size guide and ended up going with an XS. They are the perfect fit for compression but just beware they are tough to get on / off if sweaty. Would go with an XS again when I buy another pair in the future!

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07.October.2015

I have never run an official 5K, but have been interested in doing one. I know I can run the distance when I’m consistently running (7 months pregnant currently). Perhaps that would be a good goal for me to accomplish next summer.

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07.October.2015

Congrats Dana! This has to be one of my favourite non-home renovating posts of yours (second to your announcement about expecting Mabrey!) :)

I run / workout 4-5 days a week and as you mentioned, I also love to workout on my own. I use the Songza app — although it uses data (at the gym I connect to wifi) it has a ton of different genres of music to choose from. The music options are limitless and its a free app. I would highly recommend it since it gets me through those days where getting my butt to the gym seems like the most impossible task. Happy running!

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07.October.2015

Congrats on the 5K! I used to run off and on, but never went so far as to train for a race. I wouldn’t say I loved to run, but it was great exercise so I kept plodding along. And then about 4 years ago I tripped and fell on my knee (*not* while running) and altho the pain went away after a few days, I had persistent issues with swelling.

Long story short – I stopped running to let my knee heal and only started up again this past summer. I’ve stayed physically active in other ways so I was grateful it wasn’t as difficult as I’d feared. I’m only at the 2 mile mark, tho, after running every other day so needless to say I’m taking it nice and slow! I had some mild issues with plantar fasciitis in the past so I’m also making sure to stretch and rest my feet.

As for music, I used to make my own playlists (and still have my tiny ipod from 2007 that can fit in my key pocket!) and sometimes used the Nike fitbit thing, too, to track my times and distance. But this time around I’ve been going solo – ie, no music. I’m not sure how long that will last – and I’m bookmarking those earbuds of yours just in case (ugh, the flapping wires always drove me crazy!).

Thanks for the inspiration, like always! I’m in awe of people that run half and full marathons, but have no real interest in long distances. Maybe I’ll find a local 5K that inspires me and sign up!

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replied on October 8th, 2015

So good to hear you’re on the mend! I have so much respect for anyone that can / wants to run more than a 5K. Anything >3.2 miles just isn’t on my radar.

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07.October.2015

Ok, yes, I want to try to start running – I did it when I was younger – but now? ugh. terrified to start. thanks for inspiration. I LOVE the idea of not being able to hear yourself pant by using special ear plugs!! That would so help me.

But, I am more interested in learning more about your son who was “once on the autism spectrum”. I, too, have a son who is mildly affected by autism. I have worked in special ed within the school district and know what some kids are challenged by. I know there are much, much bigger challenges. Even though my son is mildly affected by autism, I worry. I worry about his future. He is eight. If you ever feel like sharing, I would love to hear how your son has developed and what resources you & your son utilized for your son to be where he is today.

Best,
Jody

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replied on October 24th, 2015

This was the part of your story that grabbed me, too. My son has high functioning autism – diagnosed just three months ago, so we’re early in our journey. I’ve never heard anyone use the phrase “used to be on the spectrum.” In fact, my son’s doc told us it was a lifelong condition. But your words gave me hope. Can you tell m what changed? What therapies worked? How he “outgrew” or “outmuscled” autism?

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08.October.2015

Thank you for the inspiration! I’m on day 2 of C25K.

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08.October.2015

Congrats, Dana! This is very encouraging as a fellow, self-proclaimed “non-runner.” I’ve used loads of lame excuses (eg – “It’s a family thing! My mom hid in the woods when she had to run during Air Force basic training!”, “I get bored”) I completed one 5k in college, but without any preparation or training it went terribly and I vowed never again. You’ve given me inspiration to try again. I’m not sure if I’ll commit to a race right away (maybe I should), but at least I will try to run this week and go from there. Thanks so much for the tips!

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08.October.2015

I took up running to combat depression, and I’ve completed two half marathons. It’s been helpful for me, but, after having two children in under three years, I’ve let it slide. I’d like to get back into it, but finding the time is a challenge. I highly recommend the app RunKeeper. Everyone I know who runs loves it, as do I.

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11.October.2015

i love this so much! In high school, I couldn’t even do a mile without walking. But I ran my first 5K last May, after two years of working up to it… And then did another one that month! I had a hard time at first with pacing- Id run too fast and then couldn’t keep it up. So I used the Jog.fm website to build my running playlist. You can put in the pace you want to run, and it gives a long list of songs where the beats per minute match the pace. It helped keep me on track as I learned how to run.

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12.October.2015

Congrats! I got into running after my second was born and loved it – went from not being able to run two minutes to a marathon in a year. I’ve stumbled lately and I miss it – thanks for sharing, it’s inspiring.
I blogged a bit about my running (including my play list, apps I use, etc) a couple of months ago if you’re interested (sorry for the html, I’m on my phone): http://www.livingprettyblog.com/2015/07/my-go-to-running-kit-and-few-lust-list.html?m=1

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replied on October 13th, 2015

Can’t wait to read your story and tips!

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14.October.2015

I’ve just downloaded the 5k Runner app and completed day 2 today. So sore! I’m glad to hear that it will get easier. I’ve always hated running too with a passion but at the same time was attracted to the comments of others who talk about how much they enjoy it. Finally committed to giving it a real try.

Thanks for the inspiration (from a regular reader from the last couple of years but have bever commented until now. Love your blog).

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replied on October 14th, 2015

Good luck Kara! It will get easier.

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14.October.2015

Well done! My running started in my early 30s when my metabolism started to show signs of slowing and my waistbands started getting tighter! For me, the combination of running and yoga keep me in the shape I want to be in, with a little bit of weights for strength and toning. Your tips had me nodding my head – a lot of them worked for me at the beginning, too. I find when I get my breathing right, it feels like I can keep running forever. I time my breathing with my strides, breathe in for 4 steps, out for 4 steps which is what I call my “cruising pace”. If I’m pushing myself, I change to 3 steps in, 3 steps out. Whatever feels comfortable, and then you can just set and forget. I couldn’t listen to music at first – I always thought I should be running to the beat, but once I got my breathing pattern figured out it’s easier now. Also had a great run (10km) listening to comedy, Ricky Gervais & Karl Pilkington. I don’t do this often, but it definitely took my mind off the distance. Keep at it and enjoy!

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15.October.2015

So much of this post reminded me of me two years ago. I’m completely hooked now. I wasn’t going to comment, but then I saw your 7:14 mile and I did that last Tuesday – the exact same time. I was completely jazzed, so I thought I’d fist bump with you.

I have an amazing park between my work and home, so I run after work – the hottest, hardest time of the day. But I love it anyway. It has tons of hills which are more exciting to me than flat running – I get bored easily. I’ve gotten up to 7 miles at a time, but I don’t think I can commit much more than an hour to a run. Keeping it in that range of time seems doable in a busy schedule.

Keep up the good work. That’s a great time for a 5K, nicely done.

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replied on October 15th, 2015

Thanks Kristin! Fist bump right back atcha.

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19.October.2015

I am thankful you have shared your son’s history of being on the spectrum and pray that you will share more with us about your approach and successes. So many families are struggling with this issue and could benefit from your experiences.
Your Layne looks very happy. Go Mom go!

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04.April.2016

Hi!
I refer back to this post from time to time because it has really helped me being a newer runner also. I have run a 5K but because lazy over the winter and am back at it. I would love if you would update from time to time how the journey is going. I’d love more tips on running gear especially sports bras. I have a hard time with this one. Thanks!

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