5 years ago, if you would have asked me if I wanted to go for a “jog“, I probably would have laughed in your face. I was trying to be active by doing small at-home workouts and dancing, but I really had no desire to get out and start running.
That was until my dad and brother started running together and ran a half marathon. They, along with a group of friends from my church camp, inspired me to start running. But I didn’t know HOW to start running….because I truly couldn’t run 30 seconds without stopping to breathe. I wasn’t motivated enough to just go outside and run around the block–I needed something to push me. I needed a goal. So I signed up for a race, and things just took off from there!
Getting Started With C25K
I did a little research when I initially started thinking about running and decided to try out the Couch to 5K (C25K) Program. I started on January 9, 2012, and I ran my first 5K on April 7, 2012. I kept notes on my blog to track my progress and look back on in the future to be proud of my accomplishments, and I really am glad that I did that. Looking back on it today, I realize how much starting out with a run-walk program helped me with my training and, eventually, my love of running.
If you are the kind of person who needs a program or goal to kick your butt into gear for developing a love of running, a C25K program might be the perfect place for you to start!
It never hurts to have great running gear! Thanks to Under Armour for outfitting me and the other Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run Race Ambassadors with Charged Bandit 2 Shoes, a great Cold Gear top, and awesome shorts.
Run Walk Training
For someone who had never run more than 30 seconds in her life–that includes never even running a full mile in high school, folks–it was SO much less intimidating to only run for 30 seconds at a time rather than 30 minutes. I used the plan from Cool Running, but there are a lot of different apps and websites that promote this training now. Back in 2012, there weren’t as many cool smartphone apps around running and fitness, so I had to time myself on a watch to make sure I walked and ran at the right times. But now, the C25K apps can prompt you to stop and start, which is super helpful when you are just starting out.
If you have never run a race before and you are signed up for the Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run this spring, this might be the perfect plan to start with. You may also have joined the in-person training programs provided by =PR= Training or virtually through Under Armour—check out this post from AJ last week! Those are all great options to start your training. But maybe you aren’t ready to fully run the entire time of your 2-3 mile training run, and that’s where a run walk strategy can come into play.
Besides the C25K, there are a few other plans that include walking in your training. One of the most popular plans is the Jeff Galloway method. I really like the idea of taking walk breaks because I have found that I get my energy back during those walk breaks. Now, don’t think I’m just sluggishly strolling along the race/training route when I take walk breaks–I use it to take deep breaths, drink some water, and keep up a brisk walk so as to not lose form or a ton of time. For me, I find that instead of walking for a certain amount of time, I walk for a certain distance by tracking it on my watch.
Find the pace and routine that works best for you and go with that.
Running can also put a lot of pressure on your lower back and knees. In the past, I have not done enough cross training to help support my lower back so I end up having to stretch it around mid-race. I don’t mind having a quick break to stretch, but I have finally accepted the importance of cross training (but that’s a post for another time!). And I know this will help me in my races this year, but I still enjoy the small walk & stretch breaks I take.
Racing With A Run Walk Program
You may wonder if I still walk during a race now, and the answer is yes, I do. I have not built up my body to be able to run for 2.5 hours straight without taking a break at some point, so I still do my own version of a run-walk plan, because I know what works best for me.
The Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run has a strict time limit of 2 hours and 20 minutes after the 7:30 A.M. start, because of obligations to re-open roads and agreements with the National Park Service. That’s enough time for many run-walkers, but if you’re not there yet, the 5K Run-Walk is a great alternative.
Yes, you’re still a runner!
For a long time, I struggled with the fact that if I stopped to walk, I wasn’t a “runner.” But that is NOT the case at all! There are so many people who run-walk long distance races and still finish in a great time–sometimes even better than if they would have ran the whole time! And there are so many fantastic runners who don’t stop to walk at all–I definitely admire them, but I know I personally can’t do that for long distances. I don’t know if I want to do that for long distances!
The run walk programs are designed to help you to finish stronger and be happier about it. If you are a fairly new runner, or maybe a runner who is just trying to build up to a certain pace again, try a run-walk program and see if it helps you finish strong!
How did you start running?
Are you a fan of the run-walk program or would you rather power through?
What advice would you give a first-time runner?