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“Running is NOT for me.”
“Running is way too hard.”
“I’m too overweight to run.”
Ever catch yourself saying these things in regards to running? I know I have!
But don't believe the hype! The beauty of running is that all ages and fitness levels can get into it. I've made every excuse in the book as to why running was simply not for me. But one day, I dared to try something different. I simply couldn't trust myself to get in a decent workout on my own at the gym without quitting prematurely or even breaking a sweat. And quite frankly, I was bored out of my mind with just barely pushing myself in my routines. Worst of all, I had no one to hold me accountable and was pretty disappointed at my results (or lack thereof). What I needed was something totally different and outside of my comfort zone. I needed an accountability partner. Personal training was not an option for me due to my budget, so I had to make the most of the resources I had readily available.
I recall witnessing a colleague over the course of a few months drop at least three dress sizes and wondering how I could get in on that “get it tight, get it right” action. Mind you, I was not looking to accomplish 'skinny,' but healthy
because being thin doesn’t necessarily equate to being healthy — remember that. She so graciously shared that she had a health scare and began running for her life, literally.
She introduced me to a nationwide running group for women called Black Girls Run (BGR) that happened to have a weekly meetup in my area. And as the saying goes, the rest is history. It all began as walking, to power walking, to a slow jog, to a fast jog, then finally to full out logging some miles. Starting out, there were women participating in the group at all fitness levels. Some were starting from scratch and some were preparing for half-marathons. The great thing is that there is a motto of "no woman left behind" within these BGR groups.
I am proud to say that although I am still a work-in-progress, I feel confident enough to register for 5Ks, and will pretty soon be preparing for my first half-marathon — yikes! So, that’s my backstory.
Now, for those of you who wish to switch up your workout regimen and incorporate running into the mix, these tips are for you:
Set realistic dietary & fitness goals
The saying, "You can’t out-exercise a bad diet” is nothing but the truth. The thing about a lifestyle change is that you have to be in it for the long haul; quick and easy usually don’t work out for the long-term. In order to obtain positive and lasting results, you will first need to honestly evaluate your diet because it plays such a huge role in overall health. Commit to the changes you wish to make and pretty soon it will become routine without a second thought.
Example: Incorporate once weekly cheat meals. I am not a believer in going cold turkey…at all. Also, be mindful that sugary drinks and sodas hold a lot of calories; don't drink away your calories!
Obtain an accountability partner
And not just any accountability partner. You will need someone with similar goals and experiences to encourage you and pull you back in when all you want to do is jump ship and eat cupcakes. It helps tremendously to have people to work out with to give you that extra push when you otherwise might have quit prematurely on your own. As mentioned above, in joining a running group that caters to women, I knew that there would be a dedicated group of women at every meetup working out with me. The same applies to group exercise classes at the gym. Consistency really is the key. I also understand that every area might not have access to such reputable groups, which is why linking up with friends or colleagues who are on the same page is vital.
Switch up your workout routine
Although running is encouraged in this post, it's also important to shake up that workout schedule to eliminate boredom.
Monday, Wednesday and Friday – Walk or run for 30 minutes.
– Group classes at the gym or ride an exercise bike at home for 1-hour (if you happen to have equipment at home)
– Weight training at the gym or a workout DVD at home.
Sunday – Rest and recover (you might also choose to add an additional rest day depending on your level of fitness)
ON TO THE 5 RUNNING TIPS:
- Build your tribe. Ladies, look into a well-known, safe running group in your area, such as Black Girls Run if you are interested in getting started with a group. You might also choose to work with your accountability partner or even venture out on your own. Be certain that you hold yourself accountable for your goals when working out on your own. At the end of the day, no one can want it more than you.
- Get the appropriate gear. Invest in some comfortable running shoes and appropriate weather-friendly gear. Some feel more comfortable running on the treadmill to start and later work toward the outdoors – it’s completely up to you. Both are fine. I don’t know about you, but it's also imperative that I have a workout playlist blaring from my earbuds. As a safety precaution, I usually run with one bud in my ear so that I can hear everything that’s going on around me when running outdoors.
- Download training apps. My favorites are My Fitness Pal (tracks your daily food intake and any exercise you manually enter); Nike Training (tracks all your runs and running routes); and Couch to 5k (to prepare you for your first 5K.)
- Know your limits. Start off slow and at your own pace. Remember, training to run is a marathon and not a sprint. Start with 15 – 30 minutes and then progress each week to add more time. The Couch to 5K app is great for getting beginners started with a walk-run incremental routine.
- Sign up for fun runs. Once you complete the Couch to 5K, sign up for something to test out your skills. Usually with fun runs, you can do a combination of walking and jogging, so no pressure. Some to watch out for are The Color Run and The Glo Run. Walking and running for a cause is excellent as well. Set up a team and hit the pavement for your favorite charity (i.e., March of Dimes.)
Pretty soon, you'll see that running is not all that bad *wink* and you will be setting out to collect some 5K, 10k and half-marathon medals.
How did you get your start running? Any tips I've missed? Feel free to share below!