Two months ago I got a bee in my bonnet about the idea of running. I’m not sure what it was exactly. Maybe it was Molly tempting me to join her in signing up for a half marathon or my annual flirtation with the idea of running at the first sign of a cool breeze, but whatever the reason, I just felt like running. So I had the motivation, but none of the knowhow. Armed with my fitbit and Hal Higdon’s novice 5k training plan, I started on the pathway to becoming a runner.
Since then, I’ve learned that if you run, no matter how far (or not far) or how fast (or how slow), you can call yourself a runner. I’m still getting used to saying it about myself, but I’m really proud that I’ve stayed consistent. I stuck to my running plan while visiting my folks in Georgia and while vacationing at Bald Head Island. I took a week off when I came down with shingles, then repeated the previous week to to rebuild the stamina I felt I had lost, so with that setback, I’m now on week 6. I woke up this morning before the sun and ran 2.76 miles in 26:25, for an average pace of 9:34. The fact I can run further than 1 mile without stopping is still completely mind-blowing to me. While I still consider myself a super new runner, I have learned a few things over the past couple of months from my own experience, and also from the awesome expertise from my fellow #motherrunners on Instagram (you can follow me here).
Tracking distance can be a complicated thing. I started off tracking my runs with my Fitbit Charge. I figured it wasn’t the gold standard of accuracy, but when I went on the same route as my mom (who was using a GPS app) and found that our recorded distances measured almost one whole mile apart, accuracy became my goal. I started using Map My Run app and after a few hiccups, I found my groove and liked it fine, but a month in, I felt committed to this new running gig, so at the encouragement of my running friends, I invested in a Garmin Forerunner 35. Many people also said they loved their apple watches, and I was tempted, but the Garmin has turned out to be the perfect choice for me and a month in, I adore it. It’s waterproof, durable, accurate as can be, records all my runs, tracks my heart rate, steps, calorie burn, steps, and more.
Stretching isn’t a suggestion; it’s a requirement. Not just my legs, but my lower back as well has a tendency to tighten up quickly if I don’t stretch well after every run. I have also started adding yoga into my weekly routine by using the Down Dog Yoga app. I don’t have the most patience for at-home yoga, but the app lets me choose my length of time and level, plus it’s free. I try to do yoga now 2-3 days a week, but usually it’s just a quick 10 or 15 minute session.
Hydration actually does make a difference. I’m the first to admit my biggest pitfall to “healthy living” is consistently staying well hydrated. I just forget to drink water! But when I forget I am so much more sluggish not only on my run, but all day long. A couple things that have helped me to drink more water are my Berkey, for the fact that it tastes so clean and is room temperature- I’m not a cold water fan, and my ThinkSport water bottle, which I really like for the size and feel of the mouthpiece.
It can take time for your body to adjust. I had a full blood panel done about a month back. I was feeling exhausted in the afternoons and was worried about iron, worried about my thyroid, worried about what I might not even know about (have I mentioned I have hypochondria tendencies?). The result? All my levels were great- iron, b12, etc. Vitamin D was a little low (I have since started on a supplement), but the doctor’s opinion was that my body was just adjusting to this new fitness routine. Apparently even though I worked out regularly, running is just a different animal that my body was taking time getting used to. Oh. She also suggested I make sure I am drinking enough water 😉
Cross training is important. Confession. I have not been great about making it to Burn Boot Camp. Part of it is our new routine; with homeschooling in the mornings and David leaving early, I either have to make it to the 5:00 AM class or not at all. I also try to use morning time to do blog stuff, so it’s a battle to see which activity wins out. I’ve done a few solo strength workouts but am missing doing regular weighted workouts. I feel like it makes a definite difference in my stamina and overall feeling of strength. I need to work on this. Suggestions welcomed!
I have to consider safety. I put a call out on Instastories asking for suggestions for feeling safer while running and received a ton of great suggestions!
- reflective running vest
- knuckle lights
- texting husband or friend with your starting time and route
- no headphones
- use a headlamp
- take a self defense class
- run with a buddy
- wear light colors
- run with your phone
- buy a road ID
- be aware of surroundings
- make eye contact with people you pass
- don’t wear high ponytails
- change your route on the regular
- Road ID app
- pepper spray
I think it sucks that we even have to think about some of this stuff, but we do. I just bought this key chain pepper spray and honestly, I’m happy to have it for both running and for day to day life. I’m not an overly paranoid person, but I never mind an extra layer of safety.
Shoes make a big difference; and not just running shoes. I did buy a new pair of running shoes before I got started. I went to Fleet Feet and was measured and assessed. I overpronate and have pretty flat feet. It turns out the Brooks Ghost shoe works well for me. However, I was still wearing $5 Old Navy flip flops most of the time and I started to pay for it. I developed pain in the arch of my foot and started having concerns about plantar fasciitis as well. After a few days of icing and rolling my foot out on a tennis ball, I decided my days of cheap shoes were behind me.
I polled Instagram (can you see I do this a lot?!) for supportive shoe suggestions and received the most responses I’ve ever gotten. By a landslide people suggested Birkenstocks, so after a lot of contemplating, I decided on the Mayari Sandals in Stone… and I am in LOVE. Hailey asked me yesterday if I own any other shoes because now they are all I wear. It took about 2 weeks to break them in, but I’d buy them again in a heartbeat. I’m actually considering buying another pair to use as house shoes since we don’t wear shoes in our home. I’ve also heard good things about Oofos, so I might get a pair of those for inside the house instead, since they are half the price.
I have to accept that some runs will suck. Being that I am a plan follower, I missed a morning one day and tried to run around 11:00 AM instead. It. Was. Freaking. Terrible. Was it the heat? The humidity? What I ate? I have no idea but it was the most miserable 1.75 miles ever because every step felt forced. It happens!
And now I have a few questions for fellow runners!
How do you stay motivated once the novelty fades? I still have the new runner high, but I can see sometimes that it is starting to fade. I really love sharing my runs on Instagram because I find it holds me accountable and the encouragement from others is helpful. But besides that- how do you stay motivated?
How do you keep your mind occupied/ not staring at your watch? Right now I listen to podcasts and it definitely helps the time pass. However, sometimes I still find myself staring at my mileage. Any tips?
Running coaches: are they helpful? First, let’s be honest, I’m training for a 5k, not a marathon, so I don’t need a coach, but I’m just curious if anyone has used one and what they liked of didn’t like about the experience.
Sports Bra: Lululemon Mind Over Miles
Top: Zella Z Tee (currently 50% off!)
Skirt: Lululemon Pace Rival Skirt
Rings: QALO Stackable