Thursday, March 17, 2011

On Becoming a Runner

I don't have a lot to write about these days, as my life is filled with writing, then reading, then more writing and the occasional dance class. But I do run. Almost everyday. I haven't always been a runner. I decided one day that I wanted to be a runner, and so I started running. Just like that. I decided to start running for a number of different reasons. I don't like feeling tired. I wanted to have a "hobby". I wanted a reason to get outside. I wanted something that wasn't hard, didn't require a lot of equipment, something I could do alone. I wanted to keep up with Alex, who is a sports enthusiast. I wanted to be an athlete. I wanted to run a race, to finish a race. I wanted a challenge. A lot of people have a perception that running is hard. It is both hard and not hard. It's actually pretty easy to run. Your body knows how to already. The harder things are to keep running, to convince yourself to run in that rainstorm, or when it's icy or windy outside. When running moves from physical to mental, that's when it gets hard. So, I've done a few things, tried a few things, and I thought I would write them down.
  • Start slow. As in, walk for 10 mins, then alternate running 10 seconds, walk a minute (or run longer, if you can). Cool down with a 5-10 min walk.
  • Don't worry about what you look like. People are not looking at you funny, trust me.
  • Pick a place that's pretty. Run along a waterway, a tree-lined street, a trail. Pick someplace interesting and pay attention to things around you. This morning? I saw a hawk circling and landing in a tree. Every day, I see robins running around the grass. Recently, I've seen the buds emerging on the tree (Spring is here - yay!). These things are so simple, yet so pretty. You forget you're running for a moment.
  • Make it short. Start with 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 20 minutes, whatever you have in your day. I usually get up, allow myself a cup of coffee and a cup of juice and then I'm putting on my shoes and heading out the door, before I can even think about it.
  • Say hi to people you seen.
  • Try running without headphones at first. Pay attention to your breathing - I breathe in two steps, breathe out two steps. That's my rhythm. Yours might be different.
  • Buy a good bra. They cost around $40, but they're worth it. 
  • Spandex is actually a wonderful invention. Everything is kinda held in place, your thighs don't rub together to cause discomfort, and the shorts are usually a bit longer, which I like. Plus, you're a runner, so you can wear things like this without abandon!
  • Start calling yourself a runner as soon as possible. There's no set amount of time you need to run, no set distance you need to go before you self-identify. If you run, you're a runner.
  • Tell yourself you can stop and walk whenever you want to. Sometimes you might need to. Other times you might not. 
  • Push yourself, but don't hurt yourself. Make a goal of running to the next lightpost? Good for you! Make a goal of running a marathon next month? Bad idea. Keep things in perspective. 
  • If stuff hurts, take it easy. Don't beat yourself up over it. Take an ibuprofen and give it a rest. 
  • Don't think about speed or distance. Ease into things. Also, don't compare yourself to others you might see out there. I always think to myself, "I have no idea what training plan they are on. Maybe they are on a "push it" day. Maybe I am on a "resting" day. The only thing that matters is that I am moving. That has nothing to do with anyone else out there."
  • Take care of yourself. Watch your feet. Get good shoes and socks. Take the hair out of your eyes. Buy yourself a sports shirt or shorts. Eat more fruit and veggies. Thank your body for carrying you as far as it did.
  • Take your camera, or your ipod, or anything that might motivate you. It's usually pretty nice outside. Get out there. Sign up for a local 5K for a month from now. Just get up, get out and run. Good luck!

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