April 9th, 2015 by Joan Maiden
Spring if finally here. I’m excited to be able to get outside and enjoy the sunshine and fresh air after a long winter.
It’s a great time to start running! Ok, I know what you’re thinking “I can’t run. I’m too old, I have joint problem.” I used these same excuses for over 25 years. Then my daughter call me and asked to train and run the Big Sur Half Marathon with her. I never dreamed it would be something I could do, but I didn’t want to disappoint Mandy.
Most of you have heard the benefits of running:
- It burns calories
- Improves oxygen usage
- Improves brain performance
- Improves mood and sleep
- Lowers blood pressure and reduces the risk of heart disease, just to name a few.
That said, you don’t have to run a lot of miles or spend a lot time running to reap the benefits. Research shows that running as little as 5 minutes has significant benefits.
So how do you start?
- Set your own pace. I’m a very slow runner. I’ve get passed by people walking but I run the pace that feels right for me.
- Run short intervals, especially when you’re first starting. A 15-30 second interval every 5 to 10 minutes will get your heart pumping and build endurance.
- Do strength training. Having strong muscles will make running easier. Building muscles around the joints, especially the knees, will help support them. This is what made it possible for me to run again.
- Strengthen your core and keep it engaged when you run. The core muscles are the support struts for the body. When they are strong they can absorb some of the shock so the joints don’t take all the impact.
- Get good shoes. Go to a good running shoe store and get fitted with the right shoes.
- Sign up for a race to keep you motivated. It is said that the difference between a runner and a non-runner is an entry form. Signing up for that half-marathon motivated me to get out and run on days I really didn’t want to. I knew if I didn’t train, I would never make it. It gave me a purpose and a goal that I could see, not like the other benefits of running that come more slowly and are easy to overlook.
Crossing the finish line of my first half marathon gave me a sense of accomplishment and total elation because I knew if I could accomplish that goal, there wasn’t ANYTHING I couldn’t accomplish if I set my mind to it. I also came away with four valuable life lessons:
- It was my race, no one else’s and I didn’t need to compare myself to any of the other runners. Of the 9000 runners in the race, at least 8500 were ahead of me. If I had watched all the people passing me the first couple of miles, I would have given up right then, especially when the old man with the walker passed me (but he was passing everybody).
- Quitting was not an option. If I gave myself permission to quit when the going got tough, I would have.
- No matter how far away the goal was, the most important step was the next one. I knew if I just simply put one foot in front of the other, one step at a time, I would eventually reach my goal–the finish line.
- Look up and enjoy the view. It was easy to get caught up of the pain of the hills and wondering how much farther I had to go I had to remind myself that I was in one of the most beautiful spots on earth–look up and enjoy the view.
It does’t matter how slowly you run or how little or much of your “run” you actually run, if you sign an entry form, you are a runner.