How Do I Run?

Running may be a natural movement, but using proper form can help you be more efficient and conserve energy.

Use a mid-foot strike. As your feet contact the ground, aim for having the middle of the feet make first contact. This helps with maintaining a comfortable and relaxed pace. Toe striking should typically be saved for sprinting and faster paces. Take a comfortable stride length. If your stride is too long, it will cause your heel (back of your feet) to strike first. This leads to wasting energy, will slow you down, and increases risk of injury.

Your upper body should be upright but relaxed. Work on keeping your head up, your back straight, and your shoulders level. A tense upper body or arching your back can leads to wasted energy, will cause tightness and pain in the lower back, and increases risk of injury.

Your arms should swing naturally from your shoulder and should be bent at around 90 degrees at waist height. Your hands should be relatively loose. Keep your hands from crossing over the center of your stomach. This will conserve energy.

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Running Basics

Benefits of Running

Running is a healthy activity, enjoyed by millions of people. Running can be a pretty simple form of exercise. All you really need to run is a decent pair of shoes and personal desire to start.

You have learned a bit about why I run. But in general, you may be asking “Why should I run?”

There are many reasons why:

  • It is one of the most efficient methods to reach aerobic fitness
  • It is a great way to lose weight
  • It is relatively inexpensive
  • It is convenient indoors or outside
  • It is a great stress reliever
  • It is a form of exercise that can be done alone or with others

Running gives your heart and lungs a workout. Your blood becomes better at carrying oxygen. Your heart is strengthened and pumps more with less effort. As you continue running, over time, your resting heart rate decreases. Your cholesterol levels tend to be lower.

Running, over time, produces a general good feeling. Once you gain a beginning level of running fitness, you will most likely begin to “feel” like you want to run instead of “feeling” that you have to run. Have you ever hear runner talk about a “runner’s high”? From personal experience, this is real. It is when endorphins are released during exercise and it gives you a feeling of Euphoria. Also the calories that can be burned through running is generally higher than many other forms of exercise.

Starting Out

If you are just beginning the process of running or have taken a significant time away from running, start off easy and gently build up to avoid injury. Adding too many miles or going to fast too early will significantly increase your chances for injury.

Consult with your Doctor. They will be happy you wanting to exercise. However, they will likely have some guidelines for you to follow, based on your specifics.

Running shoes. When running, it is important for you to wear proper shoes. I would encourage you to locate a nearby running store. They should be able to do what is known as a Gait analysis on your running motion. This will allow you to purchase a pair of shoes that matches your motion, decreasing your risk of injury.

Stretching and warm up time. Before your daily workout, please allow some time for stretching and to warm up. This will help you enjoy a more quality run and will decrease your risk of injury. Learn from my experience, this is important. You may “feel” as though you can skip this step. However, lack of stretching and warm up time will eventually catch up to you..

Walk, then Run. When first starting to run, it is imperative to mix walking with running. Time spent running will lengthen over time, as your fitness level increases and your body adapts. Perhaps walk a neighborhood block followed by running the next block. Or walk for a couple minutes and then run for a couple minutes. As your comfort level grows, you can switch over to more time running.

Be intentional with your pace. As you begin to run, this may not be natural for you. It is pretty important though. There may be small aches and pains. Running too fast, too soon could make it worse. Running at a conversational pace will help. If you are not able to hold a conversation during the run, you are going too fast. Slow down.

 

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Why I Run

I started playing sports when I was very young. My elementary school years consisted of YMCA Softball, Little League Baseball, YMCA Basketball, and flag football. From the get go, I was a fairly gifted runner. At the start of junior high, most of my sports friends began growing and I did not. That pretty much put an end to my time playing competitive baseball, basketball, and football. I joined the Cross Country Running team and quickly fell in love with the sport of distance running. Later in that first year of junior high, I joined the track team as part of the distance team.

Throughout my high school days, running became my passion. It started off as an athletic outlet for me once I was no longer able to be competitive in other sports. Through running, I found coaches that believed in me as a person, who would encourage me, and would help me reach beyond my preconceived limits. Running brought me friends that I still connect with today. Running, in many ways, shaped who I am as a person. It gave me something to do as a teenager. It helped keep me motivated to do well in school and stay out of trouble. It has taught me self-discipline. It has taught me how to be mentally tough. It has taught me how to reach deep inside to push through hard times in life. It has taught me how to move forward and learn from mistakes and poor choices.

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After high school, I ran for fun but not competitively. I ran with friends. I ran in local 5K races. I ran as a method for reflection. Running brings a sense of calm to my life. After my college days, for the better part of ten years running began disappearing from my life. I had become busy with life, with being married, with a full time job, with study for the CPA exams, with being a dad, with earning an MBA. I quit making fitness a priority.

Once I hit 30 years of age, I began longing to run again. I remembered my high school dreams of completing a marathon. My dreams of Qualifying for the Boston Marathon. (How many teenagers have this as a dream?) I made the decision to start running again! It was a process. I have seen successes and down times. I trained wrong for my first full marathon and struggled with motivation to run for many months after. Since then, I have completed many road races of various distances. I have ran in many 5Ks, 10Ks, Thanksgiving day races. I have completed several half marathons and, so far, 3 marathons. My half marathon personal best is 1:43:28 and my full marathon personal best is 3:54:55.

Why do I run? For me, Running is a journey. It is a process. I am constantly learning and growing. Constantly pushing myself. Constantly challenging complacency.

 

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Hot Chocolate 15K

Have you heard of the Hot Chocolate 5K/15K race? If you haven’t you have to look into it; I mean who doesn’t love chocolate??? This race includes 2 of my favorite things… running and chocolate… now i’m not one who can actually run and eat chocolate at the same time… my body doesn’t agree with that at all…. but to get a butload of chocolate to eat after you run along with some amazing swag, YES PLEASE!!!!

This year the jackets were amazing… super cute and super nice. I’ve done a lot of races where you look at the shirt and say, “I ran for this thing??”… that’s not the case in this race… you actually do the race because of the jacket….. i’m just saying… it’s true.

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The course, in Scottsdale, isn’t anything fancy… at first it’s gorgeous and your running next to green grass and actual trees… then it changes and your running next to brush and under freeways…. but the amount of people there and the chocolate and marshmallows they give you while you are running tend to make up for the not so great course.

The fun part is the Finishers mug… a mug of hot chocolate, with a bunch of chocolate to dip marshmallows, rice crispies, cookies, pretzels and bannanas. Normally I don’t eat a ton of sugar… but I ran this race for the chocolate, so I had to do it and it was yummy!!!!!

So…. for those interested in a race… check it out. they have a 5K and a 15K and they are all over the country. It’s a fun one to try.

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Runners Addiction from a girl who hates running.

As I’ve said before, Running has not always been my addiction. In fact if someone told me I needed to go run a 1/2 mile I would get so anxious and want to go hide. I’ve always been an athlete, but running was not my forte.

In May of 2014 I had my 2nd child. I was already overweight and gained over 40 pounds with him, so, as with many women who have just gained a ton of weight from baby and are going through postpardum, I was depressed at how I looked; I knew I had to make a change, and a big change at that.

Jamie, my husband, is an avid runner… not just a small 5K type runner, but a marathon runner; I’ve always told him he’s crazy and I don’t understand how he could love running so much. Although I played a ton of different sports, I NEVER ran, especially long distances. I always have said I hate running; mostly because after a half mile I was bored and thought I was going to die. I mean, why run when you can drive right?

The problem is when you are married to a runner, you don’t see them very often because they are ALWAYS running and they have a ton of friends that run, so they are always doing speed workouts, long runs, pool runs, adventure runs, hills runs…… when you like your husband and want to spend time doing things he loves, you realize that you need to figure out how to run so that you can join him in this separate life he leads.

So, that is what I did. After we had our son I decided I was going to try running. I was going to give it a try. I started small… the couch to 5K app is amazing for anyone who doesn’t run… and I mean, I couldn’t even run a ½ mile without stopping, so for those who don’t like to run or can’t run… start small!!! I signed up for my first 5K and used the APP religiously to train for my run. While I did not even come close to winning the race, I did finish under my goal time and that was huge for me. 

Over the next year I continued to run; I ran at Orange Theory as well as long runs on Saturdays. My goal was a 10K, then a 1/2 marathon.

When I had first started running one of the things that intimidated me the most was not having anyone to run with at my slow pace… and not knowing anyone. I would go to running groups and not know anyone and not know who to try to run with… talk about anxiety for someone who already has a little bit of social anxiety around people she doesn’t know. I learned quickly though that there are a lot of people who are at different paces and I would just throw out in the running groups the pace I needed to go and I would find new people to run with. Thank goodness!!!

November 21st, 2015 I ran my first ½ marathon. My goal was to finish… I just wanted to finish…. ideally I wanted to try to do it in under 2 hours and 30 minutes. Well…. I did it… I did it!!!! According to my watch, my time was 2:28:07. I will take that!!!!!  Wait… did I just say I did it? I did!!! I ran a ½ marathon.

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Here is where the title of this post comes into play. I get it now… I get my husbands addiction to running. It’s addicting…. these races are addicting… the friends you meet are amazing and they are all as crazy as you are. They get up early for long runs, they talk about splits, and what they eat for a race, and how they cross train, and the newest goodies and the best races. You run with them for hours at a time and talk and become instant friends. It’s truly kind of cool. When you meet people who run, you instantly bond with them, because you know they are as crazy as you. When you hear about a race you try to figure out how to make it work with your schedule to sign up and do it. If you could do one every weekend you just might.

Running has changed my life. It’s brought me closer to my husband and brought me friends I never would have had otherwise. It’s also brought on an addiction to run races.. no matter how small…. It’s just plain fun being able to run and know that I can.

I wanted to write this blog post because I want YOU to know that it’s possible. Anyone can run…. you might not be the fastest and you might not be able to even run 1 minute right now… but that’s ok. Start small and start…. build yourself up to it. Find people to run with and don’t be afraid to tell people your pace to find people to run with you. You’d be amazed at how many people want to see you succeed and want to help you.

I am officially an addicted runner. I’m looking for my next race and can’t wait until my next run when I get to hang out with my new friends.

Everyone’s journey is different and amazing… share with us what your struggles are or your successes. What has this journey been like for you?

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