Full of Good Intentions

This is where I spent the last days of 2013. Where it matters most: with family and the ocean. Two of the most amazing things in my life. This photo happens to have been taken on a run. With my sister. But more on this at another time.

Happy 2014! The second day of the year, and I already have six races lined up. One of which, I’m proud to announce, is in a little over two weeks! I’m running the Redding Marathon Relay. It was a Facebook cry for help from my 4th grade science teacher. She’d lost one of her relay partners and needed someone, anyone, to take their place. Sure, it’s a 6.5 hour drive. But how many people can say they’ve run a marathon with their elementary school science teacher? A phone call was placed, and decisions were made. Redding, here I come!

As it is just past the beginning of a new year, I thought it only appropriate to embrace the proverbial New Years Resolutions. After sitting down about a week or so ago to create my yearly list, I thought about deciding on things that I would actually stick to or continue working at to achieve. Telling myself I’m going to do 30 push-ups and chin-ups for 365 days straight isn’t realistic. Nor is making it a goal to run 6 days every week. Life happens. Which is why I decided to create a different kind of list in its entirety. It isn’t a list of resolutions, it is a list of intentions. At the top of this list is ‘Balance.’ It is such a broad term, and can be interpreted in a number of ways. But, for me, that’s the point. I want balance in the physical, walking across a tight rope sense. I want balance between school and play, between social time and ‘me’ time, and between training runs and running naked and free (no watch, no music, no Garmin, just for the pleasure.) Beyond that, my other intentions are fairly typical, but a little more clear and definable:

  • Drink more water (80-100 oz per day),
  • Eat vegetables with every meal (because everyone loves spinach for breakfast!),
  • Take more photos (currently embarking on a photo a day challenge),
  • Write daily (even if it’s only a sentence or two.),
  • and PR my next half and full marathon. (without becoming obsessed with pace and injuring myself again…)

I’ve many others, but these are the intentions worth mentioning.

Along the lines of New Year’s resolutions or intentions, I’ve had a number of people ask me recently how I got into running and/or how they could begin their (surely to be) lifelong love of running. A couple even made it a goal for 2014. I’ve been contemplating on just how to present this post for a while now.

How to get started running. It’s simple, really. Get off your ass. Put on some shoes. Walk out the door. Put one foot in front of the other. Get out there and go. Shut up and run. Push yourself a little. But is there more to it?  It took a little bit to formulate how I’d even begun running. When/how I even started. For those of you who haven’t checked out my About Me page, I’ll give you a little synopsis:

I’ve been a sporadic runner for a number of years. I ran track for three years back in elementary/middle school. I was slow. I was chubby. I was that kid who turned cherry red and ran into the nurse’s office nearly every practice because I couldn’t get my asthma under control. As years passed, I started running to rid myself of daily stresses and clear my head. Never more than 2-3 miles, and I never fully enjoyed it, I just knew it would settle me down.

I ran my first 5k race in 2010, finishing with a 10:15/mile pace. Proud of myself for even finishing, I decided to run the same race the next year. In Summer of 2012, I ran another 5k with a co-worker. At this race, I ran into a good friend, who has since fallen in love and subsequently fallen of the face of the earth. (We all know how that goes.) With this friend was Lexi, a badass girl who’d just moved home from Boston. We hit it off. We even became Facebook official friends. It was real friendship. In September, she throws out a post on Facebook. Something along the lines of, “Help! I’ve just been talked into a half-marathon. Who’s training with me?!” This girl, right here. I am. I called her, and the rest is history. Holiday Half was completed 3 months later, and here I am with another year gone by.

I’m a baby runner, for all intents and purposes. I’ve been consistently running for less than 2 years. I chat with those that have been running 10+ years, and they just give me that smile. You know the one I’m talking about. It says, ‘you’re so cute with your doe eyes and eager spirit. I remember those days.’ I have immense respect for those runners. Running has become a part of their lifestyle and not just a hobby. They have this store of knowledge in all things running, and I can only hope to get there one day. For now, I’ll take the inexperienced, doe-eyed look with the unquenchable enthusiasm for all things running related and impart it to you, dear readers.

With this and a giant smile, I present a little list of how to get started:

1. Find the motivation. The desire, the drive. Most of you have this if you’re even contemplating running. The hardest step is always the first. Cultivating the want to even begin something that is sure to be difficult is commendable in itself.
2. Make a goal. What kind of distance are you shooting for? Set objectives. Someday, you want to run a marathon, yes. But right now, you need to make it a goal to complete that first mile without stopping. Or to complete that 5k you signed up for in the spring. Whatever the goal is, make it clear and measurable. Make “I want to run more,” into “I want to run three days a week consistently.”
3. Make a plan. Be realistic. Training for a half-marathon in 2 months is not realistic if you’re still a couch potato. Runner’s World has a lot of awesome training plans for 5k, 10k and half-marathons.There is also the Couch to 5k program which is perfect if you’re just getting started. I think they even have an app. You could even rock on over to Pinterest and find a plethora of plans and info. Whatever you decide to do, make it a doable plan. The idea is not to set oneself up for failure.
4. Purchase running shoes. The real, real good kind. Don’t scrimp. These shoes are your equipment. The wrong fit could cause pain, injuries, discontent. Besides, people at running stores know what they’re talking about. They’ll get you into a proper fitting shoe. My bffs are the guys over at Foot Traffic. Like most running stores, they’ll analyze your gait and get you into the shoe that you need. They’ll answer your questions, and they have more info than you’ll know what to do with.
5. Download an app. The options are endless: Strava, Nike +, MapMyRun, RunKeeper, C25k. Keep track. But not always. This will give you an idea of pace, of distance. That way you can adjust accordingly. As you start running more, a GPS watch > phone apps. But it’s all about starting small. The app will help you to stay on track and see improvement.
6. Start slow. The first time you lace up those new shoes and step outside your door, please for the love of all that is good, don’t set yourself up for failure. This goes back to making a plan. Day 1 of 5k training should not be a 3 mile run. It’s starting out slow and easy.
7. Be patient. Expect setbacks. Don’t stop. Be kind to yourself, recognize accomplishment, and don’t be defeated by setbacks. Remember why you started running. Hopefully the reason was for yourself, for self-improvement, better health. Focus on those.

Run. Do yoga. Lift. Bike. Dance. Walk. Skip. Jump. Ski. Just MOVE. It’s the new year, a new start, a new smile, new intentions. Remember balance.