May 27, 2010

how to survive a run.

hey guys... i'm back! finally got my thoughts together. i cannot thank you all enough for your sweet support. you guys rock!

up for today's discussion? running... but not what you think!
there are two types of people in this world: runners, and those who can run.

runners are those individuals i envy. they actually look natural in their nikes, they have strong, sexy muscles, and possess incredible committment to the sport (hello, 50-milers?!? i still need to buy one of those new t-shirts for motivation!)

(the one in blue? my hott runner boyfriend, who will be delightfully awkward about being on the blog. but look at him!!! le sigh.)

those who can run are the rest of us. while we are biomechanically able to run, it's an activity we reserve for rare occasions - you know, when crossing the street, when you snooze through your alarm, or heading to dinner!

... ok, not that bad, but how many of you are nodding in agreement?

i've always fallen into the latter category. and yet, sure enough, at 7 a.m. last friday, i was out the door in sneakers.... to run 8 miles.... in the sun.

am i nuts!?! well, sorta.

you see, secretly, i've always wanted to be a runner. hearing other people talk about the races they've run gets me all kinds of fired up! and i always had the best intentions - i could start next monday, right?

so about 3 years ago, i decided enough talk! i was ready to start running, or so i thought. i expected after eating cheetos and watching TV for the last year, i was just gonna, you know, jog a few miles. no big thing.

how'd that work out for me? instead of bangin' out a few miles, i ended up wheezing like i was going into cardiac arrest after about a 100 feet.

seriously, it was athletic carnage out there. i was embarrassed, panting, and totally defeated... not exactly how i anticipated it going.

you know what was the most discouraging was, though? the guilt from all the thoughts in my head about how a run is supposed to go, and all the things i was supposed to feel. i've read article after article. i've watched the movie! every health magazine i've ever read gives advice on how "this year, run that marathon! get off your couch to a 5k! win a race!"

i knew all about how other people run, but no plan for how i, personally, would run.

honestly, those articles always left me feeling more guilty and less motivated to get out there. the article about the olympian is all fine and dandy, but what about me? i'm certainly not an olympian. do they know me personally? do they know my strengths, my weaknesses, my preferences? do they know what i find challenging, or what i'm ready for?

i was tired of reading about someone else's life, and ready to live mine. i wanted to run! so how did i start?

before i could succeed, i had to forget everything i thought i knew about running.

yeah, seriously. i mean everything. the training plan i printed out? trashed. the "advice" on how it should feel? discarded. all my expectations and goals for myself? put on hold.

you see, it wasn't that i wasn't able to run, or that running magazines are evil. they can be motivating somtimes! i just had to realize my experience running wouldn't be predictable, or ordinary. i am not average in any way, so why would i think that i run like the cookie-cutter, standard "runner" i had read about? i was ready to run my way, because after all, it is my goal.

i think most of us have all these ideas swirling in our heads about what running will be like, and that can only confuse us and leave us feeling defeated. but you can run! seriously, if i can, you can.  

how? here are my thoughts on how to run and not die.

1. be true to yourself.
you have to honor your body first. ultimately, doesn't matter what runner's world says, because they don't live your life. learn to hear what your body needs - more water? are you sick? did you fuel properly? this isn't hard... it just takes time.

ask yourself - what breakfast helps you feel the best? what time of day are you the strongest? what pace is comfortable for you? what shoes don't give you blisters? do you like distance? do you sweat a lot? do you want music?

running with fibromyalgia certainly has it's challenges, but really, it's just like anything in life - if you take the time to do what's best for you, you will never regret it. learn more about what works for you, and don't worry about other people.

2. set small but exciting goals.
if you've been eating cheetos and watching lost for a year too, don't worry about it. you will get where you want to be. so what's your challenge? wanna run a mile? 10 miles? marathon? iron man? great! if you're anything like me, though, you get all passionate, go on a tear, and end up hurting yourself trying to run 30 miles your first day out... please don't do this.

like anything else new, you gotta give yourself some time! what's your hurry? becoming a runner is not an emergency, so don't get frustrated it you can't keep up with a break-neck pace. treat your body with the respect it deserves.

i think the best way to make a goal is to look to the next step from where you are currently. are you a reality tv addict? start by just making a commitment to walk a mile each day. can you already walk 3 miles? awesome! now how about throwing in a few 30-second jogs in those 3 miles? if you are a member at the gym, how about making a plan to get on the treadmill every time you're there?
3. commit to consistency.
the most important part of running is not really distance or speed, but consistency. take it into consideration when making your goals. pick something you can do frequently, actually enjoy, and can do fairly well. what's the point of running 5 miles if you only can talk yourself into it once a month?
for me, this means commiting to doing something 5 days a week. if i can't run, can i walk? if i can't do a long run, can i do sprints? if i can't go for an hour, can i do twenty minutes? i do what i can and move on. no guilt, because i met my goal!
4. ... but be realistic.
we all have crazy weeks... athletes included! if you can't get to your workout one day, beating yourself up is not going to help you meet your goals. think about it - every new years, how many of us foolishly plan to run 7 days a week, and how're you doin' on that now? no one can make that happen, so why set yourself up to fail?

guilt has no place in your workouts. it will only serve to discourage you, and slow down your progress. be realistic and just know life happens, and that's ok! in the grand scheme of life, missing a few workouts? not worth worrying about. seriously.

it's much better to start small, but with something you will actually be able to achieve. even if that's jogging two days a week, it's what you can do, and that's ok. it's your life!

5. keep your eye on the prize.
i can only stay motivated for things that are really important to me. running a 5k with my mom was a big goal for me, so staying commited was easy! every mile i logged, i anticipated what it would be like crossing the finish with her. it drove me to get out and move! up next? prove to myself and others with fibro that i can make it through a half-marathon, and they can too.

likewise, your goal should motivate you. want to run a marathon? make a point to celebrate every mile farther. just started exercising? stay amazed at every new accomplishment. logging more miles? keep priding yourself on every completed workout.

i'm not saying it will never be hard. would it be worth it if it wasn't? but knowing you are achieving something you want makes it worth doing. you deserve it! pep talk yourself daily.

guys, don't let guilt or fear hold yourself back from running or anything else you want in life. why look back and wish you had actually accomplished your goal? you can do this, and do it well!

runners - any tips?
newbie exercisers - anything that helps you?
non-runners - thoughts on running?
- rebekah


  1. yea ur so right! no one should be afraid of running but only be afraid of ignorance about it.. so important to be smart, listen to ur body, but at the end of the day do as Nike says "jsut do it!" u have great tips here. i totally found that by listening to my body and knowing when to push it and when to ease off helps so much. i think its gonna be noraml when ppl first start off running to make mistakes and pay for them.. but its about finding what works. i hate hearing about people who DIE from running.. no sport should be the cause of someones death :(

    xoxo <3

  2. Love this post! I could relate to a lot of what you said- I've always wanted to be a runner and finally one day I was like dammit, why not?! I was actually a bit overzealous and got a stress fracture while training for a half marathon. BUT I am back in the game and am setting small goals (as per your fabulous advice!) like 5ks and such. I think it's amazing you run even with fibromyalgia. What an inspiration you are :)

  3. Great post!! I am doing my first 10K this Saturday and since I'm somewhat undertrained (been focusing on triathlon training) I plan to not turn on the GPS and just focus on finishing!!

  4. i love this post..its great..i just started really running longer distances than before and i'm amazing i can do it and feel so good...i can do about 4 miles...but i really like running like just 2 miles..b/c I can do it so fast now..i think running is great for the mild and body! good luck! :)

  5. Great post! Over the last few years I've learnt to be more realistic about my running goals. I don't think I'll ever be a marathon or even half-marathon runner but if I can just make 2 20 mins runs per week then I'll be happy. So far I'm making 1 run per week. But slowly and steadily wins the race :) x


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