“Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads” – Henry David Thoreau
I was never an athletic kind of girl but in my dreams I could run. I could outrun those nasty bad dream monsters, I would run across the fields on my grandparent’s farm, and many times, I just ran with a destination unknown…(probably just woke up and my dream ended).
Fast forward to October 2011 (age 53) when I decided that I was going to run in the next local Race for the Cure which was on Mother’s Day 2012 in memory of my girlfriend, Kimmy Kay, who had just died from breast cancer. I had no clue how to start a running regimen and 5K seemed like an awfully long distance…how does one get started?
- Start by dowloading a simple plan like Couch – to – 5K Training Plan from the Internet. There are dozens of options to choose from so find one that sounds like a good fit for you. My plan started with running for 1 minute alternating with 5 minutes of walking for a total of 25 minutes.
- Put your daily training plan in your calendar. Keep it visible and block our your training time in your calendar so you do not inadvertantly double book yourself with some other activity.
- Buy decent running shoes! I made a mistake by trying out running shoes based on articles in exercise magazines and ended up with a bad case of plantar fascitis in both feet – not the smartest move I ever made. I went to a local running store and they actually watched me run around the store to assess my gait and find me the right shoes. What a difference!
- Share with friends and acquaintances that you are going to train for a race. You will find people who will share great tips and be wonderful coaches and cheerleaders as you are working towards your goal. I also used Map My Run, a free application on my phone. It logged my runs and I could share on my Facebook page – I would get positive messages from my Facebook Friends that helped keep me motivated.
- Now comes the most difficult part: you need to bend over, put your running shoes on your feet, tie those laces and actually get your butt out of the door to start running! This sounds like the easiest part but it is the one step that can derail us from our good intentions. We all have households to run, or children/pets/parents to care for, or jobs that require us to be present, or spouses that want to hang out with us, or… you get the drift. Committing to a plan is tough because we will get tired, bored and stuck on a plateau. So make sure you have Step 2 handled, get your run/walk into your schedule as an appointment. I planned mine for immediately after work, before I sat down for dinner and before I turned my computer back on.
- Celebrate each run as you are increasing your running time over walking time. I would walk into my house after my run and tell everyone “I ran 5 minutes today without stopping to walk”! I figured that I deserved the bragging rights as my family viewed the disheveled, sweat soaked woman standing in front of them, huffing and puffing like there was not enough air in the universe…
- If you are running for a specific cause (like I did for the Race for the Cure), a great motivation is to do some fund raising activities. We hosted a fashion show with a local boutique, utilizing women who have survived breast cancer as our models. They were far more beautiful than any Paris or New York runway model because the sheer joy of being alive and recognized for their triumph over cancer was simple breathtaking.
- Race Day: as you tentatively join the group of runners, remember that this is a first time for many of them also. I guarantee that if you share with people that you are a “newbie”, many others will admit the same and you will have newfound friends and acquaintances as you wait for the race to begin!
- BREATHE and enjoy the energy of the crowd as you move past each milestone.
- As your cross the finish line: cheer, laugh, cry and “high five” your neighbor – YOU DID IT!