Tuesday, January 1, 2013

It's Time to Start! (RUNNING!)

Before running a New Year's 5k this morning :)
UPDATE: This blog post in particular became so popular that it inspired me to start my motivational running blog geared towards new runners.  I hope you'll visit it at www.iamrunningthis.com!

Happy New Year!  I love the New Year, because it's a chance to reflect on the last year, and think about where we'll be a year from now.  I even like New Year's Resolutions, because how cool is it really that there's a time of year when it's a cultural tradition to look at our lives, reflect on how we can make them and ourselves better, and chitchat with others about our goals in casual conversation.  It's awesome.  I think it'd be neat to have a New Year's Checkpoint in June where it's tradition to ask everyone around us how they're doing with their New Year's Resolutions.

Anyway, 2012 was the year I started running, and if I have a New Year's Resolution for 2013, it's to keep going.  I began the Couch to 5k program in July, which means I've now been running for 6 months!  I still remember being out in the heat of July with Will in the running stroller, trying my best to keep going and catch my breath as I ran for 90 seconds, walked for 60, and ran for 90 seconds again.  Now I'm running two or three miles about three times a week.  I'm still a very slow runner, and I've got some goals for this year to run faster and longer.  Most importantly, I'm having fun, I'm reaping the health and emotional benefits, and I'm back in my pre-pregnancy jeans.  Life is good.

Me running my second 5k on my 29th Birthday :)

Since I'm very new to running, and this is the time of year when so many people start running, I thought it might be fun to write down some of my thoughts on being a new runner.

Mile 1 (Starting)

  • Find a walk/run program, cheat when you need to.  I loved the Couch to 5K program, but the most important thing when starting is to work hard enough to feel it but not so hard that it's demoralizing and you're miserable and you injure yourself or just are too unhappy to keep going.  It's o.k. to catch your breath for a little bit and then run some more.  Even on race day.
  • Sign up for a race.  Nothing like a goal to work towards to keep you going!
  • If you have young children, a jogging stroller is awesome, borrow one or find one second hand!
Mile 2 (Keep yourself going)
  • Run outside if you can, not just on a treadmill.  Find new places to explore and run, enjoy being outside in the fresh air and sunshine.  It might seem harder in the winter, but it's even more worthwhile, too, because when else are you outside in 25 degree weather feeling warm without five hundred layers?  The best feeling is when you're running on a sunny January day and you stop, and just feel how it feels to be outside and not be cold.  It's amazing.
  • Have realistic goals, and keep track of your running on a calendar so you feel accomplished when you hit a certain number of miles in a week.
  • Listen to music, or podcasts, or books on tape, or, if you have small children, nothing, while you run.  Mix it up.
Mile 3 (Race day!)
  • Pick super awesome music to run to, or just enjoy the rush of being part of something
  • Watch people of all ages, shapes and sizes running ahead of you and think about how awesome it is that you, too, can become a better runner.  You're not too old, you don't have too many kids, and you're not too short or too round to run and enjoy running and run faster than people who look younger and better than you in a few years or maybe even a few races.    (They will still look younger and better than you, but you will be faster.)
  • Push hard, but not so hard that you can't wave at anyone and you're not having any fun.  That puts you at risk of throwing up before the finish line (not me) or having a photo taken of yourself looking like a nauseous, chinless zombie (totally happened to me).  I ran today's race hard enough to be within forty seconds of my best time, but not too hard, and it was way more fun.
My nauseous, chinless zombie photo. PR and my first 5k under 30 minutes though!
Can you tell I had to work for it?!
Look at that gorgeous blonde running.  She's younger and better looking, but I'm faster! ;)
Disclaimer: I will never push that hard in a race again, it was my third 5k and her first, and she's my younger and very awesome sister, with my super fun brother keeping her company, which I refused to do so that I could have my picture taken looking like a nauseous chinless zombie.

Mile 3.1 (Things to think about when you're running your first 5k)
  •  Think up funny (to you) slogans that you wish were on the back of your race day shirt at any given moment.  Some of mine from today's race: "I run because it feels so good when I stop", "My fast pace is your slow pace", "I just got passed by a woman in a tutu", "Why are all these people chasing me?!", "Is that an eight year old?", "I just got passed by an eight year old", "I had bacon and waffles for breakfast".
  • When you're running, and you feel like stopping, don't ask yourself if you can make it to the end.  Ask yourself, "can I do this for another ten seconds?"  Focus on the ten seconds ahead of you, and if you can keep going, (I usually can) go.  Don't let the distance demoralize you, focus on the now.  If you're breathing all right now, and you can keep going just a few more seconds, keep going.  
  • Put the best songs on your playlist in the middle of your run to keep you going, because I honestly can't focus on the music enough to be motivated by the last half mile, and the finish line is enough incentive!  A little Maroon 5 halfway through goes a long way.
My Running Goals for 2013:
  • Run a 5k in under 30 minutes with Will and Andrew in the double jogging stroller
  • Run a 10k
  • Not look like a nauseous chinless zombie in future running photos
Good luck to any new runners like me!  Run fun :)

New Year's 5k, mile three!

*UPDATE, MAY 2013* Still running!  Here are a couple links to some of my other posts about running:

Running With a Double Jogging Stroller: http://kellysnormal.blogspot.com/2013/01/running-with-double-jogging-stroller.html

The only way to run faster is to run faster: http://kellysnormal.blogspot.com/2013/04/the-only-way-to-run-faster-is-to-run.html


  1. What a great post! Thank you. I'm preparing to get myself started on the Couch to 5K program. Believe me, I'll be reading and rereading your post for inspiration and support. Did you do the program with other new runners or by yourself?

  2. I started doing it by myself, but then one of my neighbors saw me out running during the first week and she and her husband did it too, so I chatted with her sometimes for mutual support and we signed up for a race together! My husband also runs which is helpful, but intimidating, since he runs marathons multiple times a year and I'm just getting started :)

    I do most of my running by myself, but most communities seem to have running clubs if you look for them so you can find people to jog with once in a while if you think that'd keep you going! Good luck and happy running :)

  3. Great post. Very motivating. I completed the Couch to 5K almost a year ago and "ran" five 5Ks from May to Oct. I too am a slow runner (slower than you) and am shooting for a 30 minute or less 5K by the end of the summer. (My fastest is a bit under 34 minutes). I have fallen off the wagon so-to-speak in December and have only been on the treadmill 5 times (shame on me) after running 3 times a week for a year. Today is the day that I get back on track again and your post makes me really want to. Thank you!

  4. I will be joining Nikki in the quest to run a 5K this year, along with another friend. We look forward to reading your blog and getting good tips. We are Needham moms and if ever you wanted to share some of your wisdom in person, we would love to meet up.

    Jodi Rooney

    1. That's great! Let me know if you sign up for a local 5k especially! I am happy to share enthusiasm, but wisdom might be a stretch :)

  5. Tomorrow is week 8 day 3 for me. I started at week 4. So far so good, but this week it has been more a struggle than previous weeks. I am also doing the master cleanse, so that could be part of it. Tomorrow I am going to slow down even more although that is really slow. Because I am on the treadmill (winter is no place for me to be outside in) I know exactly how slow I am going when going slow. Sometimes it is slower than walking, not a mood booster, but yesterday I just kept telling my self to keep a running motion and do not walk and it worked. Thanks for your tips.

  6. What an awesome post and how thoughtful to help out other newbie runners like this! Thanks!

  7. I am 20 years older than you and also did C25K, but it took a while. I got stuck at week 6 for the longest time, but kept running. One trick I use when nearing the end of a run and it feels too hard is to count. I will count every left foot strike up to 50, then start over again. Focusing on counting helps block out negative thinking and pushes me to then end!


  9. SouthernIllinoisRunner JBJanuary 4, 2013 at 1:57 PM

    I started trying to run in July of 2012 too. I was 46 years old; in relatively good shape so I was not doing this to loose weight but to be heart healthy and tone up. I started running on a treadmill (until the beginning of September) as I was too self conscious to run in front of others. I am a very social person, but I feel more comfortable running alone. What kept me going was reporting my results. I ran 30 minutes 3 - 6 times a week trying to go further each time. I took pictures of the treadmill that showed how far I ran each 30 minute time frame that I still have! I signed up for my first official 5K run on September 22nd with a goal to finish but a secret goal of under 30 minutes. As it turned out my first official 5K was not exactly a 5K. It was a trail run that was under 3 miles so finishing in under 30 minutes did happen, however the next week I ran another official, hilly, certified 5K (which means it is definitely 5K) , I did it in 31.something. Not what I wanted but I didn’t give up! I had started using mapmyrun on my iphone to track how I was doing and on my own. I started running in less than 30 minutes on flat runs. October 7th I ran an official, flat 5K and I reached my goal of under 30 minutes and was first overall in my age group! (yes, it was a relatively small run). Since then I have ran in 9 official 5K’s from the real runners races, to races with over 3,000 people in them. My official PR race time is 28.12 on a VERY hilly course, but have achieved a 27.52 on my flat course. My current goal is to maintain running in under 28 minutes with a secret/stretch goal of achieving 24 something one day however every goal I have has a realistic and secret or stretch goal.
    Big advice to new runners:
    1) Set attainable goals, don’t shoot for the stars, small successes are great and share them with supportive people! (other runners are great and get it)
    2) Document your results, it is amazing to look back and see what you were doing and what you can do after working on it.
    3) Share your daily results with others. This will give you incentive to go further.
    4) Talk to other runners, what works for one doesn’t work for all.
    5) Sign up for your first 5K, do it, don’t give up!!!
    6) Do what works for you!
    7) Have fun, don't forget, it is hard to push yourself to run some days but it ALWAYS feels great when you are done running!!!

    1. Great advice and thanks for sharing! I love hearing from other runners :) SouthernIllinoisRunnerJB those are fantastic points, and I also love the commenter who said they count every left foot strike towards the end... I could see that really helping during that last half mile when it gets hard to keep pushing at your racing pace!

      Being a beginning runner is hard, especially with so many seasoned runners doing so well. But seasoned or unseasoned, eight minute pace or twelve minute pace, if you're out there working as hard as you can for half an hour or forty five minutes, you're out there working as hard as you can for half an hour or forty five minutes. And that's just as good as someone who needs to run faster to exert the same amount of effort. We've got nowhere to go but up!

  10. I started running last year for the first itme in my life and turned 50 years old. It is a lifestyle you must keep up to maintain your goals and healthy lifestyle. I did 9 5Ks last year and it was exhilarating. This year, I did 16 of them and won first in my age group in over half of them. Keep up the good work and do not run too many times each week, it WILL lead to injuries. Thanks for sharing all your thoughts on these web pages.

  11. I enjoyed reading your blog! I am 53 and started using the Ease into 5K app in late July and ran my first 5K in late October. I could barely run 30 seconds the first time I used the app without being out of breath, but the app eases you into running and I actually couldn't believe it the first time when I ran for 30 minutes without stopping. It took me 44:18 to finish my first 5K, but I crossed the finish line and didn't come in last place! I sign up for a 5K each month to keep me motivated and my time improves with each race. I knew I was hooked when I actually ran AND enjoyed it when the outside temp was 17 degrees last week!

  12. Hi there! I enjoyed reading your post and really thank you for providing great insight and advice to new runners. I have run the NYC Marathon twice (2009 & 2011) and numerous road races of all distances but I still was moved reading your blog. I still remember the first time I started running and what it meant to go further and further each time. My hope is that my gf will get the running itch and experience what we all feel, regardless of finish time. Thanks and I will def keep reading!

    visit my running blog at http://mmartininycmarathon09.wordpress.com/

    I will add you to my list and promise will update my blog!!

  13. Hi, what a great post! I started the C25K program back in the fall, when I suddenly got a blast of inspiration. I have never been a runner before, as I always thought "why not just walk fast?" (Of course, now I know better!) ;) I also thought, why am I doing this going into the winter, in New England? Cold air, lack of sunshine... But, I have yet to run indoors. Being outside is such a joy! Still can't wait for the days to get longer. I did my first 5K on New Year's Day, and am so glad I did. Ran most, walked a little. Looking forward to more this year. Hope I don't end up like a nauseous chinless zombie! Although I did overdress a little for my 5K, and ended up being really, REALLY hot after the race. Oh well. Have fun everyone! :)

  14. Hi there I saw your post on the active insider. I too started in July and have never been super athletic. I've ran several 5k now and a 15k, and suprisingly, the longer one was the one i felt best on! I've been training for a half marathon this entire time and will run it at the end of this month. I love running outside. One of your best tips that i always use it to do intervals. You may not mentally think you can make it to the end of the race but you can always make it to the next interval. My last 5k was 34:30 so after the half i'll be pushing for under 30 as well! Good luck!

  15. Thanks for the great blog post. It is very encouraging. I started with the official couch to 5K app but have been doing my own version (run until I can't breath and then walk until I think I can run again) more often. I have never run in my life until three months ago. I have signed up for my first 5K on my 51st birthday this coming September. On the hard days I feel like I have no idea what I am doing so I go with a modified Dory theme (Finding Nemo) and tell myself to "just keep running, just keep running". On good days, I feel proud that I am working toward a goal that I never thought I could achieve. Fingers crossed for September 7th.

    1. Thanks for visiting my blog and reading! That's GREAT that you're doing C25k, I loved it. It felt so great to complete it and be able to run for three miles without stopping.

      So my birthday is ALSO in September (the 15th) and I am training for my first half marathon to run on the 14th, the last day of my twenties!

      We are so awesome.

      I would love to hear how things go for you on September 7th!!! Best wishes, you can do it, and what a great birthday gift to yourself!

    2. I DID IT!!!!!!!!! It was a 5K with an obstacle course. It was a warm day and I knew I was in trouble when I got to the first obstacle- a 6 foot high, 3 inch wide wooden structure, and thought, "Yes- I can stop running for a few minutes". However, I did fine and finished. I have been so encouraged by doing this that I am now working on increasing my distance to 5 miles. It feels GREAT!

    3. That's amazing... I'm back here reading again two years later and wondering where you are in your running journey! I'm training for my 6th and 7th half marathons this fall... YIKES.