Thursday, December 10, 2009
I can only pass on what has worked for me and there is not a one size fits all approach to all of this BUT.... I have found the following ideas to be helpful and these are some things that I have learned along the way. I am also assuming that those reading this are in reasonable physical health. If you are working through some medical issues, you had better not go outside of your doctors advice.
Preparing for your first run..
1) Know that at whatever fitness stage you are at, it IS possible. Sounds so simple but most of us including myself, have come from a place of such emotional defeatism that it is hard to develop the mindset necessary to complete what seems now like an impossibility. Its hard to visualize yourself crossing the finish line of a 3.1 mile run when you almost die after 1 mile but it is something that can be worked up to. BELIEVE IN YOURSELF, NO YOU ARE NOT CRAZY, YOU CAN DO THIS! All it takes is one victory like this and you will know that anything is possible with enough work and training. your weight loss resolve will experience new highs as your self confidence surges.
2) TRAIN,TRAIN,TRAIN.... You have to WANT this. It's pretty hard to build up your endurance in between the commercials, the coffee clique gatherings, soap operas, Internet drama and other mindless wastes of time. FOCUS. Someone who is busier than you, older than you, and flabbier than you is out there running right now, dont let them be the only one out there setting a good example. You have to carve out a time to put #1 in the #1 slot, no exceptions. This will not fall out the sky and hit you on the head. Success is never uninvited. Consistant effort is never unrewarded.
3) Be realistic in your expectations and honest with yourself.......What I mean by realistic that is dont expect to go from a couch potato to athlete in 8 weeks. What I mean by honest with yourself is you KNOW if you are pushing yourself enough or are just plain unwilling to leave your comfort zone. You want to push yourself so that you are forcing yourself to grow but realistic enough not to go crazy and push too hard or develop the mindset that if I cant run 2 miles after 4 weeks of training then I just cant do it. Listen to your body honestly. This takes time. You have to be able to discern between your body needing to back off and simple static from a body that has hung out the do not disturb sign on its comfort zone. Failure to do so will result in either injury from pushing too hard or failure to develop the necessary endurance required to complete a 5K run due to not challenging yourself to go outside the box. LISTEN AND TUNE IN!
4) Music. Sounds simple but I have found that listening to music is a serious training aid in distracting the mind and assisting in the mental endurance necessary to complete the run. plus it is really enjoyable.
5) Intervals.. One of the most powerful tools in the runners toolbox in my opinion. NO ONE off the couch starts out jogging a mile. When I first got started I jogged a whopping 2/10ths of a mile before almost hyperventilating. I would then get my heart rate down below 1000 BPM (just kidding but it did feel like that) by walking until I was back in control again then jog a little more and repeat the process. By doing this, your endurance slowly adapts to meet the new demand and you will eventually find that you can go farther before having to stop. I dont follow a chart or program to go for so many minutes a day for so many days. thats a little too mechanical for me. I go until my body says uncle, then give it all the TLC and recovery it needs, then do it all over again. I let my body dictate how long I should go. If the C25K program says I should go 30 minutes today and I am not capable and cannot meet the programs expectation, I feel like I dont measure up, not a good thing for those of us that struggle with self-esteem issues. If I can exceed what the program requires if I pushed myself and went outside the box, then I am depriving myself if I don't. Let your body dictate how long you should go just so long as you obey RULE#3. Even if you walk as much or even more than you jog, DO IT. It all adds up to developing the mental as well as the physical endurance needed to finish the 3.1 miles. It will come in time.
6) Keep it fun this is crucial if you want to succeed. I found that my habit of exercise and running started when I started creating pleasurable associations in my mind with exercise/running. All of my experiences with exercise was always something I had to do and hated every minute of it. Sorta how I would feel about an ice water enema. Now when I jog, I found a place that it really nice to go and I would take it all in, the scenery, the sights and sounds. pace was not important, that would come later. instead, i was associating jogging with a relaxing, fun thing to do and the rest was history. The goal was to make it a habit. If I hate it, there is no way it will be a habit in my life. If you love it, you will stay in the saddle.
7) There is no sin in walking I had unrealistic expectations like " If I dont run all of this, I wont run any of it" or "If I walk once, I cant say I ran it at all". I have read where those running a marathon would strategically insert walks into their route so as to not burn out and save their strength for a strong finish. In my case, I speed-walked about 3/10ths of a mile, does that take away from the other 5.9 or so miles I DID run? of course not. Give yourself permission to walk when needed, take the pressure off. Your strength and endurance will come in time.
8) Don't Keep Your Desire Open Ended. What I mean by that is pick a date and commit to it. Be reasonable as to when to make sure you give yourself plenty of time to train BUT don't put it so far out there that you can easily put it off. Also, tell your friends, family, co-workers, what ever you have to do to create a sense of obligation so you cant hide. It is easier to blow something off when no one is expecting you to do it. Create the expectancy, then go for it.
9) Thou Shalt Rest. One of the biggest mistakes I have made while training was doing too much too quickly. It is too easy to get so intense about getting ready that you can overtrain. This can lead to injuries. Also, this can also result in poor performance due to a lack of recovery time. When I first started running, I would get done and would feel like I have just been run over by the pain train and would feel it the next day. If I tried to workout the next day, I would be drained and could not do as well. Shoot for working out every other day. After over five months of increasingly tougher workouts, I can jog five miles and shake it off like nothing happened after about a couple hours but it took a while to get to that point. You deserve a break today, take it and come back the next day ready to burn it down again.
10) Thou Shalt Remember Thy Accomplishments. One of the biggest issues I dealt with not seeing the forest because there are too many trees in the way. Keep a Woo Hoo Journal so that you can look at and acknowledge your progress. You know, something like "dear diary, today i ran one half mile. I cant believe I actually made it that far. i have never done that before." well not quite the dear diary stuff but you get the point. Give yourself credit, acknowledge it, embrace the change, that you are getting better at it and more fit with each passing week even though the scale didnt budge.
If you notice, 99% of the tips I gave had to do with attitude, mental endurance, or encouraging oneself. That is so much of what it is all about. You are mentally defeated long before the body is really ready to give out. The rest is simply P.U.S.H - Press Until Something Happens. It is so much simple repetition. Get out there and keep jogging until you CAN jog. You cant cram your way into your first run, it is totally by consistant effort. Unless you have a physical problem or severe disability, you're packing all the gear to make your first run a reality. The rest is simply building up yourself until you are ready over time. So much of my battle was in between the ears. Get out there and give it your best! You CAN do it.