I took a yoga class a couple of weeks ago, and the purpose of the class was to escape labels. We often hear people say “I’m a yogi,” “I’m a cross fitter,” “I’m a runner,” but the instructor wanted us to escape it all.
Don’t get me wrong, the class was great! To be honest, I like calling myself a runner because I feel like I’ve earned it. I’ve battled through injuries, I’ve built the stamina to run long and fast, I’ve taken all the steps to be where I am right now. I love to run. I want to call myself a runner. I’m going to call myself a runner. I am a runner.
I never used to be though. I actually hated it. I would watch people pass me on my walks, and I never envied them. I never wished to be a runner, and I never got excited while watching people cross finish lines. One day, things changed.
THE FIRST TIME I TRIED RUNNING
When I first moved to Atlanta, GA several years ago, I needed something to keep me motivated. I was starting to fall off the bandwagon, and I didn’t feel great about myself. I was living in Chicago prior, and the weather made it impossible for me to get motivated to workout. I didn’t talk about it a lot on the blog back then, but Chicago was probably one of the most miserable years of my life. I wanted a new start in Atlanta.
I joined a gym and hired a trainer to keep me in check. My trainer turned me into a gym rat. I was going early morning and late nights. I would do classes, workout with him, and join boot camps on the weekends. I loved all the people that went to my gym, and I made some great friends there. My trainer helped me lose fifteen pounds (thank you Chicago pizza, cupcakes + kids food from nannying.) He started to have me run four times a week, and I started to really enjoy it. I felt like a new person, and that was my goal for Atlanta. I was running on the treadmill before classes, running the trails outside, and running whenever I got the chance. I think that is every beginner’s mistake. I may have been in shape, but my body was not ready to run that long or fast. Being educated on running before you start running is the first thing I’d start with.
I was running on the treadmill one night and all of a sudden I had the worst pain in my knee. I couldn’t walk for days, and it started to get better with ice. The pain only came when I attempted running. Yup…runners knee. I had to give up running and stick to strength training classes, spinning, yoga, swimming, and walking for an entire year. I was so sad.
THE SECOND TIME I RUNNING
When I moved to Detroit MI, I decided to try running again. It had been almost a year, and my knee felt fine. I knew to stretch, ice, elevate and strength train while running this time. I also decided to switch to Asics running shoes (best decisions of my life.) I was finally running 4-6 miles again. It felt amazing to be back in the game! Months later, I started to develop a tight and achy pain around my ankle. Yup…Achilles Tendonitis. I couldn’t catch a break! I could hardly walk because of the pain. I had to get an ankle wrap and rest it for days. I had a bone spur on top of the Achilles Tendonitis. My doctor wanted me to take a break from running, ice, stretch, and start swimming until the tendonitis went away.
I was pretty lucky because a lot of doctors perform surgery on runners knee, tendonitis and bone spurs. I was strict with resting, icing, stretching and switching up routines and completely healed in 6-8 months.
Why did I get all of these injuries? Because I wasn’t educated on how to be a runner. When they say to use a beginners guide, they mean it. Unfortunately, I learned from trial and error. What was I doing wrong? I was running every day, I was increasing my mileage too fast, I was running a faster pace unnaturally, I wasn’t doing any other exercises other than running, I wasn’t hydrating, I wasn’t stretching, I wasn’t icing, I wasn’t resting, I wasn’t eating the right fuel.
THE THIRD TIME I TRIED RUNNING
I decided to try it again. Third times a charm right?
I moved to Charlotte almost 2 1/2 years ago. I started walking a ton of mileage again. That walking turned into running, but I decided to do it the right way. I wasn’t going to focus on how many miles I could run. I wasn’t going to focus on how fast I could run. I was going to focus on running.
I decided to build up gradually, even if I wanted to keep running or go faster, I forced myself to stick to the plan. This plan is what I stuck to, but before trying, make sure to talk with your doctor!
HOW I GOT INTO THE RUNNING ROUTINE
Run five minutes (10-12 min mile), walk ten minutes, run five minutes (10-12 min mile), walk ten minutes, run five minutes (10-12 min mile), walk ten minutes, run five minutes (10-12 min mile) walk ten minutes. 5x a week
run five minutes(10-12 min mile), walk five minutes, run five minutes (10-12 min mile), walk five minutes, run five minutes (10-12 min mile), walk five minutes, run five minutes (10-12 min mile) walk five minutes. 4x a week
run five minutes (10-12 min mile), walk five minutes, run ten minutes (10-12 mile) walk five minutes, run five minutes (10-12 min mile) walk five minutes, run five minutes (10-12 mile), walk ten minutes. 3x a week
run fifteen minutes(10-12 min mile), walk fifteen minutes, run ten minutes(10-12 min mile), walk twenty minutes, run five minutes(10-12 min mile), walk ten minutes. 4x a week
run twenty minutes (10-12 min mile) walk thirty minutes, run five minutes (10-12 min mile) 4x a week
run twenty-five minutes (10-12 min mile) walk twenty minutes, run ten minutes (10-12 min mile) walk twenty minutes 4x a week
run thirty minutes (10-12 min mile), walk thirty minutes
**Add five minutes to your runs every week if you are trying to be a distance runner and knock off fifteen seconds every run if you’re trying to be faster. Don’t do it too fast or you’ll end up injured.**
My runs now: are Monday (rest/strength) Tuesday (2-4 miles) Wednesday (4-6 miles) Thursday (rest/strength) Friday (rest) Saturday (3 miles) Sunday (6-9 miles)
It’s been two years and I haven’t battled any injuries. I don’t try to be fast and I don’t care if I run slower than everyone else. I want to be able to run distance. I feel so much better when I’m not racing against myself. I have to remember to strength train and take breaks whenever I can.
There have been periods throughout the two years where I fell off the bandwagon and stopped running, starting eating like crap again, and had to start all over again. I think finding motivation is super hard when you fall off the wagon and that’s enough motivation to keep it up. I never want to fall off the bandwagon again, it sucks.
WHAT ABOUT RACES
I don’t necessarily like them. I hate the anxiety of all the runners around me, I don’t like speeding to win, I hate training, and I don’t like running super early in the morning. I will run races, but they aren’t on my priority list. I do want to run a half eventually (updating this post, I ACTUALLY RAN MY FIRST HALF/details here), but only when I’m ready. Some people live for races and that is what keeps them motivated! Just find what works best for you. If it’s a race that motivates you to run, then sign up right now! If it’s being able to enjoy a long Sunday run on the trail, get out and go. If you’re wondering when I will do a half…it’ll be VERY SOON. I’m feeling a little more ready every day.
WHY DO I RUN
Why do I run? I run because I truly enjoy it. I love the way I feel after I complete a run. I like seeing all the progress I make. I like that I can do it anywhere/anytime. I run because it keeps me in shape. I run because it puts me in a good mood. I run because it’s my therapy. There is nothing better than a long trail run on a Sunday followed by a trip to the Juice Bar or coffee shop. It’s a great activity to do with friends and it’s fun! Whenever I’m having a bad day or dealing with anxiety, I turn to running to help me escape it all. I always feel like a better person after a run.
WHY IS FOOD IMPORTANT WHEN IT COMES TO RUNNING?
I didn’t think the food was important or would affect my running when I first started out. Surprise! Surprise! But it makes a BIG difference. I make sure to eat according to my run! All of our bodies are different, so we react to foods differently. The best way to determine what to eat before a run is a trial and error! I have tested out tons of foods before running and some did not work with me and some did. I make sure to eat 1 1/2 hours before a run and 30 minutes after a run. It’s important (for me) to get a healthy carb fix before a run so I can have the energy to burn and protein after a run to help repair the muscles and prevent soreness the next day.
Pre 3 Mile Run: 1 Rice Cake + 1 Tbsp Peanut Butter, 1 Banana + 1 Tbsp Peanut Butter or 1 Cup Cheerios + 1 Cup Unsweetened Almond Milk, 1 Cup Plain Oatmeal + 1 Tbsp Peanut Butter
Post 3 Mile Run: 1 Cup Non-Fat Greek Yogurt, 1 Serving Protein Powder + Almond Milk, or 4 Egg Whites + 1/2 Protein Bar.
Pre 1 Hour + Run: 1 Rice Cake + Tbsp Peanut Butter + 4 Eggs Whites or Protein Shake (1 banana + almond milk + peanut butter & protein powder), 1 Plain Cup Oatmeal + 4 Egg Whites + 1 Tbsp Peanut Butter
Post 1 Hour + Run: 4 Egg Whites + 1 Cup Non-Fat Greek Yogurt, or Protein Shake (Almond milk + Greek yogurt + protein powder + cocoa powder)
Again..find what works best for you!
HOW IMPORTANT IS HYDRATION?
The most important thing in the world. Hydration will make or break a run. Not only is being dehydrated dangerous, it causes injuries, speed/distance to decrease, and ugh the cramps! You have to make sure you’re not forcing yourself to drink water an hour or two hours before a run. Stay hydrated all day long! I make sure to drink at least 10 ounces of water every hour. Sometimes I weigh myself before and after a run and then drink everything I lost.
DO YOU TAKE ANY PRE/POST RUNNING SUPPLEMENTS?
WHAT ABOUT MUSIC?
I don’t know how people run without music. I can’t run one minute without music or I’m done. And the people that have conversations while running? HOW? I hate to hear myself breath…If I hear myself breathe heavy, I get in my own head and want to quit. Music is the best distraction. I like to make my playlist fast and slow. I know people don’t think of slow songs when working out, but it lowers my heart rate and reminds me to slow it down a bit. I naturally speed up during upbeat songs and tend to relax more during slower songs. My playlist is totally random. It goes a little like this…John Mayer, Lil Wayne, Billy Joel, Selena Gomez, Luke Bryan, Lion King…and so on!
HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH DRY THROAT?
Some people don’t deal with this, but I do! It’s awful. Sometimes your throat gets so dry, you feel like you can’t breathe or swallow. I keep sour gum, jolly ranchers or Gatorade chews in my pocket to cause mouth watering! It works like a charm. Get running pants or shorts that have little pockets.
WHAT SHOES ARE BEST FOR RUNNING?
I live by Asics. I buy a new pair of running shoes every 350-400 miles. My run keeper app keeps track of my mileage and I get super excited every time I get to shoe shop! I love my Asics so much that I ordered three of the same pair! The pink ones you see in my photos all the time are my duplicates. I always know when I’m getting close to the 400-mile mark because the shoes are a little less jelly and I land a little harder than usual, which is bad on the knees. New shoes are super important when it comes to running. I also highly recommend visiting a local running store and get fitted. They’ll put you on a treadmill and pair you with shoes that fit your form. They’ll also give you tips for better form.
WHAT MOTIVATES YOU TO RUN
I love it. I know what it feels like to NOT run and that keeps me motivated to do it. I hate falling off the bandwagon and running keeps me on track. I make better diet choices when I run and I just feel better all around when I run. Running makes me feel super strong and inspired to do more.
IS RUNNING ALWAYS EASY?
NO. I think a lot of us see runners write about how amazing their runs are and how far they ran, but for real…not every run is easy and not every run is possible. There are days when I start running and I just can’t. I can’t push through a side cramp or I can’t push through feeling exhausted. Some days I can run nine miles and some days I struggle to run a half mile. On the days when running seems impossible, I walk instead! It makes me feel like I did something and the miles will be completed no matter how long it takes. Don’t get discouraged if you can’t complete a run or the whole experience sucks. Try again tomorrow.
WHERE DO YOU KEEP YOUR PHONE WHILE YOU RUN?
You guys may think I’m super strange with this answer, but I’ll either keep it tucked in my pants or in my bra. I’m not a busty person, so it stays in place. I can’t keep the phone in my hand because my shoulder will tighten up and the pain is awful. I have tried to use the armband, but I hate it. I have a pretty big phone, so it’s hard. I’ve been tucking it away for the past two years and it’s never failed me.
WHAT KIND OF STRETCHING DO YOU DO?
Before I run, I make sure to do dynamic stretching. Ex: set of 40 jumping jacks, leg swings, calve stretches, ankle rolls, arm circles, neck rolls, arm swings, hip twists, running in place and 20 burpees. I do this to get loose before a run. After my run, I do deep static stretching! You never want to do static stretching before warming up because you can hurt yourself.
IS SAFETY EVER A CONCERN?
Absolutely. You’ll never see me running a trail alone, running down sketchy neighborhoods, or running without a self-defense tool. I make sure to always keep pepper spray with me when I’m by myself. Even if I’m walking Grumples in a safe neighborhood…I’ll keep it with me. Be aware of your surroundings at all times! If you see a weird car parked somewhere, don’t run that way. If you notice someone following you, go to the closest house and call someone. I ALWAYS text my mom before I head out for a run. I tell her how long I plan on running for, where I plan on running and we share locations on the iPhone. If I don’t text her when I’m done (sometimes I forget) she calls me immediately. Run with friends when you can, try to run during the day or mornings, and always wear a reflecting vest if you’re running late at night. Cars can’t always see you.
WHERE ARE YOUR FAVORITE PLACES TO RUN?
I love to run trails and I love to run on the beach. Running on the treadmill stinks and I get tired of running the same neighborhood route all the time. Finding new trails or places to run keeps it exciting.
WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVORITE RUNNING ACCESSORIES
*Running Leggings (I never wear shorts)
*Gatorade Prime Energy Chews
*Quench Sports Chewing Gum
*Garmin Activity Tracker
*Master of Muscle Foam Roller
*CopperJoint Copper Knee Brace
DO I HAVE GOALS?
Just to get better. I love running and I want to continue to love running. I didn’t love running as much when I was training for a 5k and I always got injured training for a half marathon. That is the reason I refuse to train for one and I’ll do one when I’m ready. I want to keep running for fitness and health.
DOES WEATHER PLAY A ROLE IN RUNNING?
YES. Right now it’s the perfect time of year to be running. I’m a terrible winter runner and a terrible summer runner, but they both must be done. You have to prepare your body and accommodate your run according to the weather. If it’s super cold, I make sure to bundle up, but not too hot because I’ll overheat by the end of the first mile. I make sure to keep my ears and hands covered. Running in the heat was not fun this summer, but I made it through. I’m just hoping I can make it through the winter running! I didn’t do enough of it last winter. It’s important to stay hydrated in the summer, wear sunscreen and comfortable clothing. Running right now is so enjoyable and I’m going to be sad when it’s super cold here! Sometimes it rains, but I take advantage of it. I put my phone in a plastic baggy and head out in it! You have to make the best of crummy situations.
TREADMILL VS. RUNNING OUTSIDE?
I dread the treadmill some days, but I like it on others. I’ll be using it a lot in the winter. running outside and running on the treadmill both have their ups and downs…literally. You can be super consistent on the treadmill, which is great for pacing yourself. Running outside is beautiful and sometimes the weather is perfect! When the weather isn’t perfect, the treadmill is always there for you. I make sure to listen to my music on the treadmill, have something entertaining in from of me and play with the speed and incline so it doesn’t get too boring.
HOW DO YOU KEEP FROM GETTING BORED ON RUNS?
Running can seriously get boring, but I use running as an escape from the world. I look forward to listening to new music, not thinking about anything important, and clearing the mind. I love changing up routes so I don’t have to pass the same places or people all the time. Sometimes it’s super fun to run with friends or a running group! You can even bring your dog if they’re in shape.
IS RUNNING YOUR ONLY WORKOUT?
No. Absolutely not. Running would be boring if it were the only thing I did. I do everything so I can run. I do spin classes, yoga, boot camps, and circuit workouts in the gym. These are all great for becoming a better runner. You have to build muscle and strengthen your body as a runner. You can check out my fitness challenges to see what my workouts look like!
HOW DO YOU MANAGE YOUR BREATHING
I hate hearing myself breath I make sure to listen to music so I don’t have to. Breathing gets easier as running gets easier. The better in shape you are, the easier it is to control your breathing. Deep breaths through the nose and out of the mouth. Breathing too much can also cause cramps. I can now run eight miles and not feel out of breath. I never used to be able to do that.
I could talk about running all day because I love it so much. Just remember…these are things that worked for me! Make sure to talk with your doctor before starting any plan!
Questions for you!
- What is the best advice you can give from your experience with running?
- Do you have any running questions for me?
- How does running play a role in your life?
UPDATES ON RUNNING: