Just Do It (and other ways to start running)

I hate these “Keep Calm” posters. (Click image for source)

More than any other question I’ve been asked since I started running is HOW I started. This is not a surprise. Anyone who knows me at all, even a little, knows that I am not an athletic person. My idea of a good time is a plate of chicken wings and a nice long nap. Sure I ran cross country in high school, but only because I thought I HAD to do a sport in high school and cross country didn’t require try outs. I’m still proud that I finished every cross country race I started and I never finished last!

But after fall of 1999, my relationship with running disappeared. Gone. I tried the well-known Couch to 5K program but always quit after a week. I never EVER saw week two.

So what makes this time different? Why am I still running at least three times a week in October when I started in June? What was the magic answer for me?

Short answer? Pride.

In June when I decided I wanted to start running at some point, I did a bunch of research before committing and buying shoes. I checked out different phone apps like MapMyRun and RunKeeper. I ended up liking the training plans that RunKeeper offered. There are a lot of great plans, and I ended up picking one called “Beginner 5K training plan” that spoke to me. Unlike the traditional Couch to 5K program, it offered a variety of workouts other than “run for X amount of time, walk for X amount of time” with progressively more time spend running. This program had about two days a week of running a certain distance, one day of “speedwork” (slow/fast or walk/run intervals) and one day of timed activity (running or walking, your choice as long as you go the entire time).

The distances started at 1.5 miles and progressed to three miles in an 8 week time frame. It isn’t a plan designed for speed or reaching a certain finish time or even running the entire distance, which I liked. I could do it my own pace, my own way.

After all that research and finding my perfect plan, what kept me at it? Honestly, money. The second I ordered my shoes and picked a program, I found a 5K exactly 8 weeks from my start date and registered. I ran every scheduled workout I was supposed to run, sometimes in the morning and sometimes in the evening. I was determined to finish that race!

For me it became a matter of pride. I wanted to prove to all the (non-existent) nay-sayers that I could do it. Mostly I just wanted to show myself that I can do anything I want. And I wanted this. Oh, how I wanted it.

When people say to me “I wish I could start running, I just don’t know how!” I want to say “JUST DO IT! Just start running!” But I know that for many people, myself included, it isn’t that easy. Then again you don’t want to get so caught up in researching all your options that it becomes overwhelming and you quit before you begin.

Instead, I just tell people that yes deciding to start running and sticking with it is hard. But with the right amount of motivation and determination you can do it! I tell them the program I used and the addiction I’ve developed to racing. Then I say “Seriously, if I can do it, anyone can” which I know is totally cliche, but oh so true!

Tomorrow’s topic? Staying motivated, which is way harder some days than others.

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