Contributing writer, Jennifer Dome, discusses how running gave her a new perspective on fitness and offers tips on how you, too, can go from walking to running.
“I have to run 9 miles tomorrow,” I said to my co-worker yesterday. She looked at me like I was nuts. “Nine miles?” she asked. “Why?”
For a girl who was never that athletic and has always struggled with her weight, running 9 miles just doesn’t seem, well, possible.
But it is. When I first started running less than two years ago, I weighed about 275 lbs. and had never, ever contemplated doing anything more vigorous than walking and Zumba. I had a friend, though, who started running and saw the pounds drop off. For me, it was about more than that. I was inspired by her passion, her drive and her new outlook on fitness.
So I started running too. Very, very slowly. At first, I could barely run a full minute without getting out of breath and complaining about sore shin splints. Gradually, I increased my time and distance, and a few months later I ran my first 5K (see my photo above). Since then I have run a handful of 5Ks, an 8K, a 10K and, in a few weeks, I will run the Mercedes-Benz Half Marathon in Birmingham, Ala. — my second half marathon.
That’s 13.1 miles, folks. And for serious runners — runners who don’t bat an eyelash at logging 5 miles on a daily basis — a half marathon may not be such a daunting task.
For me, still overweight and trying to lose more at 230 lbs., running 13.1 miles is a feat of amazing accomplishment. It’s a high like I’ve never experienced before.
Need a little motivation to jump-start your training program? Here are a few suggestions to help you go from walking to running:
1. Find a training program. Even if you’re not ready to run a 5K yet, start with that distance as your goal and use a program that gradually increases your running distance/time with each run. There are plenty of programs, such as the popular Couch to 5K program, online.
2. Start slow. Don’t worry about pace. I never focused on how long it took me to finish a certain distance. In the future, you can try to run each mile faster. But for now, jog as fast or as slow as you want.
3. Don’t be afraid to walk. And don’t beat yourself up about it! If you have to stop and walk for a minute or two, or even a half-mile, while you run, that’s perfectly OK. Many runners stop to walk and recover a bit. This is especially helpful for me when it’s cold outside. The cold air makes it harder for me to breath, but stopping to walk allows me to get my rhythm back and start running again.
4. Concentrate on breathing. Whenever I focus on breathing in and out deeply, I have a better run. It makes me feel more powerful and better able to push myself farther. If you’re not breathing in and out consistently, you’re going feel that it’s that much harder to run.
5. Find your motivation. Whether it’s music, or imagining yourself posing for photos with your first half-marathon medal, do something to keep yourself pumped up. I change up my playlists often to keep my runs interesting. And, here’s a secret: I love to picture myself telling all those haters (you know they’re out there!) how far I ran. People will be amazed … and so will you!
Jennifer Dome, a 32-year-old New Jersey native, is a writer and editor living in Birmingham, Ala. She writes about her weight-loss journey and love for fashion at Stellarfashionandfitness.com.