I think it's official - the running bug has bitten. This morning I was miserable not because I am sick but because I was too sick to go for a run. ME! Sad because I couldn't run! Who would have thought.
Last week I ran my first 10km race AND I LIKED IT!! So much so that I have entered another one for two weeks time.
I thought I would do a blog post about my foray into 'running' as a few people have asked how the most running-phobic person ever (me) could end up actually liking this running thing. (In my earlier life the only time I ran anywhere was when I ran to my car in the rain in the highly unlikely event that I had parked more than two metres away from the entrance. I am the type of person who circles the parking lot endlessly until a parking bay opens right in front of the gym).
First let me state that I am far from a runner. I 'run' twice a week, and so far I haven't run more than 6kms in one go (except for the race). However, what I have done is go from only being able to run for 1 minutes MAXIMUM at a time (before it felt like my heart was going to explode out of my chest) to being able to run for 40 minutes non-stop.
How did I do it? By following DoctorMama's Running Advice: http://doctormama.blogspot.com/2006/05/listen-up-maggots.html
Honestly, you should read her blog - it is all because of her very simple philosophy (and brilliant sense of humour) that I am now running. (I am loathe to use the word 'running' because it seems like an exaggeration for what I am doing. A brisk jog or slow run would be more appropriate. Except that no one jogs anymore (very 80s), now people run.)
What is the secret?
RUN S L O W L Y. That is the key to being able to go from only a few meters / few seconds to being able to run longer and further. I can't stress that enough - you should run so slowly that you could almost walk faster.
Before I started with the 'run slowly' approach, I thought I was running slowly. It didn't feel fast but after a minute I would get a huge stitch in my side, my heart would pound and I would be very out of breath. DoctorMama writes:
"Everyone makes the same mistake when starting out: going too fast. When you start, you need to go SLOWLY. So slowly that you could probably walk faster. So slowly that you will feel humiliated if you see anyone you know."
And she was right! The first time I ran slowly I was kind of embarrassed because it does feel like you are running in slow motion a bit. But it works. I no longer get stitches and I can comfortably go for ages.
I have slowly started increasing my speed and my distance. For example, when I started running I was running at a maximum speed of 8 on the treadmill. I now start at 8 and I work my way up to 9'ish. The first time I ran/walked 5kms I did it in 42 minutes. I now do it in 33 minutes, and I am working my way towards 30 minutes. And this all in only 2 and a half months since I started trying to run. It is so motivating to see yourself progress.
I have found that if I push myself too much (by trying to go too fast) I get sore knees, sore shins and a stitch. But if I keep it slow I feel as if I can go on for ages. I think it will be even better in summer when the sun comes up early and I can run outside more often. Running on the road is definitely harder than running on the treadmill.
I am not built like a runner and I don't think I will ever be a particularly good one, but I like that it is an easy and free way to exercise. And I feel a great sense of achievement when I go further or faster than my previous 'personal best'. What works for me is running slowly, running two days a week so that I have sufficient time for my legs / shins to recover (I train at the gym the other three days) and very importantly - I wear two bras at the same time so that I can keep my replacement boobs in place.
The only disappointment is that I don't think running helps you lose weight. Unless you get to the super fit, run-every-day and run-in-marathons stage. But perhaps you (me) will get there (in terms of weight loss) if you keep at it long enough and if you stop rewarding yourself for your run by eating more (Oops.)
I encourage all of you to try it. Honestly, if I can do it, you can do it too. Just make sure that you run slowly. Slow down and you will enjoy it so much more.
And please go read all of DoctorMama's running advice, she is really awesome and I wish I had read her blog ages ago: http://doctormama.blogspot.com/2006/05/listen-up-maggots.html (If you look at the right hand side of her blog, near the bottom, you will find a list of running Q&As that are really useful)