Some days I sit in front of my computer, click over to this blog and start to type. And then I feel paralyzed. I wonder, does anyone care what I have to say; do they really want to see what I've sewn, or what I cooked for dinner? Does anyone have to care, or can I journal it just for me? The minutes, hours, days, and years are slipping by and I do enjoy having a record of them.
Sometimes, people email me and ask me questions, and I still feel paralyzed. I'm not an expert on anything, to be sure. I dabble in LOTS of things! When it comes to running I feel especially under-qualified to answer questions, and yet, I've been asked... by several people. And then it occurred to me. Maybe I'm being asked because I'm not an expert... maybe I'm being asked because it's less intimidating than approaching someone who seems to have it all together. So, finally, here we are. To those of you whom have been anticipating this post, please accept my apology in delaying for such a long time.
I've been often asked how I got started running. Or more importantly, how someone else should start. My answer? Start slowly. Really slowly. As a matter of fact, if you're new to exercise I'd start with walking. That's exactly what I did. But a word of advice? Build your mileage much slower than I did. The first month I walked I covered 203 miles. That's way too much. Aim for 60-90 miles at a brisk pace. I know even that can seem daunting to a beginner, but it's doable. And it does get easier pretty quickly.
You can read more about the start of my walking career here.
Once I'd been walking for 4 months I set out for my first run. Because I'd been so diligent about my daily walks, and because I'd pushed myself to walk briskly, I was able to transition to running with no problems. Depending on your age, I'd say the same would happen for most people. You can read a little more about my transition from walking to running here.
Us, at 5:30 am, after we've already run 6 miles.
Another question I've been asked- do I follow a plan, or listen to my body? Well, I've done both. Personally, I think listening to your body is the best way to go, but you have to really listen. In the beginning of my running career I definitely listened to my body. If I really felt too tired, and didn't just feel like being lazy, I'd take the day off. If I went out for a run and felt great I'd go farther than I intended. If I set out to do a longer run but grew too tired or wasn't feeling well I'd cut my run short. I trained for my first half marathon this way, and ran the full distance that the race would cover seven times before the actual race. I didn't wear myself out, or become injured. It's important to note here that I wasn't afraid to take a day off during those weeks, or to run just two or three miles on some days.
Verne and I began training for a full marathon last January, and when I started following the schedule more strictly, and switched to a different surface, I did injure myself. We put the marathon aside and I had to stop running for eight weeks. Now you might see why I think listening to your body is so important.
How have I gotten faster? Well, fast is a relative term. I'm faster than I was when I first started, to be sure, but I'm slower than I was at this time last year.
After my first half marathon, the days grew warmer and I decided to try speed work one day a week. I figured the faster running would make up for the fewer miles I was running when I was too hot to be comfortable on a long run. It worked. My times got faster last summer despite the heat and shorter runs. I searched out hills, and would sprint up them. I'd often do fartleks on shorter runs. These strategies all led to faster miles.
Oh! And I raced. Competition is great for increasing your time if you're competitive. I raced a lot last year. Competition isn't just about beating the person in front of you, it's about beating yourself. This year, because of my injury, I've only raced twice.
Our 24th anniversary- we ran several miles together early that morning.
To be honest, the injury isn't the only thing that's kept me from competing this year. Last summer, running was new to me. I loved growing faster, and pushing my body to see what I could do. This year, my goals are a bit different.
After I recovered from my injury and picked my mileage back up, Verne and I started to discuss a marathon again. He's wanted to run a marathon for years, and put his dreams on hold when I became injured so that we could run together. Though it would be hard to train through the hot summer months, we picked a race in the fall to aim for.
We're back to following a schedule, and we're 12 weeks in to an 18 week training plan. There's no speed work on my calendar. No races. When I'm running 40+ miles a week in the heat I find I'm too drained to add those things in.
Rain or shine, light or dark, we're out there, day after day. The blessing is that we're in this together. We encourage one another when one of us is having a hard time carrying on.
I've never seen so many beautiful sunrises in my entire life as I have this summer.
I'm so thankful for all of these miles with my husband.
This training has been tough. Some days are easier than others, to be sure, but some days I just pray silently that the LORD would give me His strength to get through the run.
As I run up the hills I recite Psalm 121 in my mind. And once I reach the top, Philippians 4:13 fills my thoughts. Praying for others fills the moments that I find difficult, and takes my mind off of myself.
We may have to postpone again, this time because Verne is feeling some pain. We're allowing him to listen to his body, which is by far the better way to train. It's never good to become a slave to a program.
If you have any questions, I'm happy to answer in the comments. Ask away!