If you told be 5 years ago that I would be a ‘runner’ I would have laughed in your face. I’ve been running for the past 2 years and it’s changed my life. It keeps me fit, sane and diminishes my urge to punch people in the face. Nothing washes away stress from work or issues with my kiddos or the hubs like a good run.
During my second pregnancy, I knew it was going to be hard to lose the baby weight. I mean breastfeeding can only do so much. Plus there was also the 20 pounds I put on pre-baby because, at the time, it seemed silly to workout and diet when we were trying to have a baby (I was just going to get fat and swollen anyways right).
I had always wanted to run a half marathon, though I don’t quite know why. I had never run more than 2 miles at a time and even that was torture. I guess I saw a lot of my friends posting about finishing all these races on Facebook and I wanted to be one of the cool kids?!? And the moms I saw running with their Bob strollers always looked so strong and cool.
Just before having my second baby, I decided that I was going to be proactive about getting fit and I set the goal to run a half marathon before my 30th birthday. That gave me approximately 5 months to train (after being cleared by the doctor post baby), which seemed totally reasonable (though those 5 months were January through May, the rainiest time of year here in Oregon).
I started off by doing intervals of running and walking (there was a lot more walking than running) on the treadmill but I wasn’t really loving it. I gave running outside a shot and discovered it was a little better (not easier, just less boring).
Being the mom of a 6 week old and a 2 1/2 year old, I didn’t exactly have a ton of time to ‘train’ outside so I bit the bullet and purchased a used double jogging stroller of Craigslist for $100.
My first run with the jogging stroller was rough (as we’re many after that as well). It didn’t occur to me that pushing an extra 50+ pounds would really slow me down (and I was slow already). But let me tell you, after training with a jogging stroller, solo runs were a breeze!
In the last two years, I’ve run a half marathon, a couple 8k races and a three leg relay (Hood to Coast). This year, as part of my New Year’s resolutions, I plan to run an 8k, 2 relays and hopefully another half marathon. I gotta admit, running definitely gets addicting.
Here are my 10 tips to getting started running (whether you’ve been a runner in the past or not):
- Start with intervals. There are a lot of plans on Pinterest that take you from a non runner to runner. I started out with intervals. Try jogging for 30 seconds, then walk for a minute, alternating for 20-30 minutes (this can be done on on treadmill or outside). Each week (or whenever you think you’re ready), increase the time of the jogging interval and decrease the time for walking. Eventually, remove the walking all together.
- Don’t worry about speed. Even if you’re in really good shape, you may still start out with super slow pace times. And that’s ok. When you’re starting out, worry about building up your endurance for distance. If you start out too fast, you may run out if energy before you reach the end of your run. Once you can run 3 miles without stopping, then you can start working on increasing your pace (I do this with intervals of my current pace and my desired pace).
- Get outside. For me, I have a way easier time running outside. I’m not really sure why but even when it’s cold or raining, is still rather run outside than be stuck on a hamster wheel at the gym (but if treadmills are your thing then you go girl).
- Get a jogging stroller. Think you don’t have time because you have kids? Get a jogging stroller. Seriously just do it! And you don’t have to spend a fortune on an expensive stroller. I found mine for $100 on Craigslist and it does the trick. Your kids will nap or munch on snacks while you run (get a rain cover for your stroller if you live in an area where you might need it, like Oregon). Plus, it will help increase your endurance, since you’re pushing around extra weight.
- Get an app. There are lots of apps out there. I personally use the Runkeeper app. It tracks my runs to show my progress and also offers training plans based on distance or pace. I like to set it to give me updates during my runs, like current mileage and pace. Find an app that offers features that are important to you.
- Make a killer playlist. Nothing motivates me more than good tunes to run to. I use Spotify to create playlists but you can use whatever music you like. Just make sure it’s upbeat and fun.
- Stretch after your runs. Don’t skip this part! Seriously!!! Nothing will derail you faster than a running related injury. Shin splints, IT band problems and a lot of other issues can be helped or prevented with proper stretching. I personally like these stretches for runners and these foam rolling exercises (foam rolling is a runner’s lifesaver).
- Register for a race. Pick a manageable distance (5k is a good place to start). Don’t pick a half marathon as your first race. By paying money to run, you’re setting a goal and forcing yourself to stick with training. Even better, find a buddy to register with you. It creates extra accountability.
- Buy cute running clothes. Nothing makes a gal feel better and more motivated than a new outfit. You don’t have to spend a ton (I really like the C9 by Champion line of women’s activewear at Target and Miss Kate Hudson’s new line of affordable athletic wear, Fabletics). I like to wear breathable layers, especially in cold weather. If you plan on running outside in the dark, make sure to wear light colored reflective clothing. And invest in a good sports bra. You should not be flopping around while you run, not only can it be painful but it’s just not cute. Mom boobs need all the support they can get.
- Eat properly before and after a run. This is super important. Nothing kills a run faster than lack of energy. Try something easily digestible, like a banana and almond butter or some Greek yogurt about 30 mins to an hour before your run to give your body time to digest and convert your food into energy (running on a full stomach is no bueno). After a run, you’ll want to hydrate (coconut water is a great option because it has electrolytes without all the sugar they put in Gatorade) and have a snack/meal with protein and carbs to help your body recover. Here is a great article about what to eat pre and post workout.
Getting started with running can be tough (especially if you’ve never really run before). Stick with it. It will get easier. It’s definitely a mental thing, your body can totally do it but only you can make your mind believe you can do it.