I get asked all the time how I began running.
As my 4th grade teacher always said, getting started was the hardest part. I could easily have come up with a gajillion reasons not to start running, but praying every morning for the baby weight to just fall off by itself wasn’t working. So I reluctantly got off my mushy butt and got started.
My biggest concern was staying in control of my breathing. I get asthma-like symptoms under predictable circumstances, such as when I’m sick, pregnant, or haven’t worked out in a while (which, at that point, had been a few years). Going up the stairs in my house could make me wheezy and dizzy.
My plan of attack was pretty simple: I plotted out a short route (a little over a mile) that started and ended at my house. I started out walking, then started into a slow jog. Whenever I became short of breath I started walking again, taking note of where I had started the jog and where it ended. Once I caught my breath, I would start to run again. I did this throughout the whole route for about a week or so, trying to keep the walking and running consistent. For example, if I started running at a certain mailbox and ran to a certain tree I’d run that same stretch every time. The next week I tried to extend my runs just a tad, pushing myself another 200 feet or for each running segment of the route and shortening the time I spent walking. I did this slowly over the course of a month, until I was eventually able to just run the whole route. Once I could run that loop, I used an online mapping tool to create other routes that added just a half mile at a time to my run. I didn’t walk it anymore, even with the added distance, but I was careful to check myself to be sure I wasn’t overdoing it. I’d stay between those distances (just over a mile to 1.5 miles) until the longer distance became easier. Then I’d add another quarter mile or half mile and do it all over again, always trying to run the two longer distances.
I think the concept is pretty similar to those Couch to 5K apps that are out there, but instead of trying to accomplish that in the time the app recommends (I believe it’s 8 weeks), I’m just listening to my own body. I can now run up to 2.5 miles in a stretch, (following the above method, this means sometimes I only run 2 miles – but I try not to go below 2 miles anymore to keep my stamina up). And although 2.5 miles isn’t quite a 5K, I’m excited to say that I’m finally almost there!