A few days ago, I had many of you submit questions for me about my journey back into running. I get a lot of questions every time I post my runs on Instagram, so I thought this would be a great place to address them. If you’re in a running rut or thinking about running for the first time, I want to motivate you with a giveaway! Keep reading to find out what it is.💜
What made you want to start running again?
After running my first half marathon, I told myself I was never going to run again. I was in so much pain that I was traumatized. Before that, I used to love running as a way to stay fit and help me de-stress. When I had a hard time focusing, I’d take a timeout to run, which seemed to help me relax my mind. When I shifted the reason why I was running, I started not to love it as much. It was more of something “I had to do,” and I was always nervous about racing.
I had been wanting to get back into running for a while now, but it was that fear of being too out of shape or being faced with an injury again that stood in my way. I decided to come up with a game plan that helped me slowly get back into running at a comfortable pace.
Now, I finally feel like I’m back to running for the fun of it again, and I honestly have been enjoying every run. Most importantly, I was ready to start running again. I’ve never been good at pushing myself to do things I don’t want to do.
Are you on any running diet?
I’m not. I do, however, eat a higher carb breakfast on the days I’m going to run, and follow-up my run with a high protein/natural sugar snack to replenish my body. I do focus on the timing of my eating before I run to make sure everything is digested and it won’t cause any cramping or discomfort. Other than that, I eat a pretty normal diet aside from being gluten & dairy-free.
Do you ever get side cramps? What helps?
One out of three runs, I’ll experience the painful side stitch. I started to pay attention to what I ate and how I was stretching on the days I had experienced the stitches. I noticed that if I didn’t let my food digest for at least an hour, or If I didn’t take the time to stretch well enough before a run, the chances were that I was going to experience a side stitch. They usually happen about five minutes into the run, so I’ll walk for about one minute, and then run, and then walk, and then run until the cramps goes away. If it’s still painful and doesn’t go away, I’ll usually put my run off until the next day, or push it to later that evening. Adding as much dynamic stretching as I can before taking off has helped me tremendously!
How to get my pace up more? I’m at a 12 min mile currently.
I think the more you run, the faster your body will get naturally over time. I used to push my pace beyond my comfort level, and that never worked in my favor. To me, running should be enjoyable, and your body knows what pace it should be running at. If you try to increase your speed too soon, you can set yourself up for an injury. Chatting with a running coach can help you come up with a game plan to increase speed if that’s something you’re working towards. For me, things like strength training, hill training, and stretching contribute to my pace-goals overtime. Once in a while, I’ll try to run at a super fast speed for one minute, slow it down, speed up again, slow it down, and even though it makes me tired, it does help with my pace. I usually do it on the last mile once I feel like my body is nice and warmed up.
Have you ever hated running? If so, how did you grow to love it enough to stick with it?
Yes. The first time I ever hated running when I was backing middle school. They made us run around the track for a fundraiser, and each time we ran a lap, we received a dollar amount from our sponsors. I’ll never forget how much I hated that fundraiser. The second time I learned that I hated running was when I was in high school. I was extremely out of shape, and running the required test-mile made me feel sick. I ran it as fast as I could because I was embarrassed and self-conscious about anyone thinking I was too overweight to do it. I remember missing my next class because I was so sick after running it. All of that made me never want to run again. Even back when I lost a lot of my weight in college, it was purely from walking.
Way back when I was living in Atlanta, around age 23, I joined a gym that had one of the most amazing communities. I got super involved in the classes for the first time and even worked with my trainer for a good six months. I had never been more fit in my life at that point. During one of my training sessions, I was told to stay on the treadmill and run/walk for one hour. We were doing a water weight test to see how much I was retaining. I was running at a 9 min mile pace, and after thirty minutes went by, I realized that I had successfully run over three miles for the first time in my life. Whenever I had hated running, it was because I was out of shape or had an injury. I never gave running a chance, and from the outside, I thought people were just naturally good at it. I didn’t realize that it’s something you have to work at before it becomes something you genuinely love.
Some people love running to race, and some people love running as an outlet from their everyday challenges. I’ve learned that racing is not for me but running for my mental health and as a way to stay in shape is what I love to run for. Getting back into it was going to be hard, but now that I’m at a point where it’s comfortable, I love it again.
How do you find your music? It’s the only thing that keeps me going, a good song!
I agree with you! I refuse to run without music, and it’s what helps me enjoy the run to the fullest. When I see people running together while having conversations, I’m not like…how? & no thanks! I usually make a playlist before I leave the house to get me excited about the run. I’ll search through Spotify or Apple radio for new music. Right now, I have Ariana Grande’s, thank u next album on repeat. That whole album puts me in a “mood” while running. Music also plays a big roll in my heart rate and energy levels. I like to add a mixture of slow and fast songs to help control my pace.
Have you lost any weight while running?
I struggle with high-cortisol levels in my body. For the past two years, I haven’t lost one pound. Even though I don’t have a scale, I do check in at the doctors to make sure I’m not gaining a ton of weight over time. I didn’t want running to be something that was only being used as a way to “lose weight,” but I wanted it to be there for me to stay in shape and help me mentally. I don’t think “being in shape” looks the same for everyone. Even though I’m not ripping with muscles in my arms or have a six pack of abs, I still feel very athletic and very in shape right now. If I wanted to lose weight, I’d focus more on cleaning up my diet, but I’m pretty comfortable in my body at the moment. I have days where my disorder will creep back in and tell me “you’re too fat” or “to search for the next best diet,” but that usually ends within two minutes after I give myself some tough love. The important thing about recovery is that you get to learn how to destroy those awful thoughts that creep up now and then. So, no, I have most likely not lost any weight while running, but goodness have I gained strength and confidence.
Do you plan on running daily or every other day?
Right now, I run every other day. If I feel like running back to back days or taking a couple of days off, I’ll do so. But, sticking to the every other day schedule has worked best for me. It keeps me consistent and motivated. When it comes to my mileage, I check in with myself at mile three to see if I’m up for a couple more. Running intuitively has kept me injury-free so far.
On days you run, do you still do some walking? Do you stretch before or after?
Because I have two active dogs, I have to walk 2-3 miles on the days I do not run, and the days I do run. I do a lot of my deep stretching after I finish running since my muscles are warmed up. I try my hardest to do 15-20 minutes of strength training on the days I’m not running, but I could be better about it. I also play tennis several days a week, which I like to do on my off-days.
How many miles are you averaging per week?
Right now, I’m running about 12-15 miles per week. I run every other day anywhere from 3-5 miles. I plan to increase to 15-20 miles by next month.
How do you motivate yourself knowing the first couple of runs will probably suck?
Taking it super slow helped me get past the “it’s gonna suck” mindset. I knew the first runs were going to be tough, but they were going to be quick. I added 0.1 miles onto each run to gradually get rid of that mindset. Even when I wanted to keep running, I made sure to stop. After the first couple of weeks, adding the milage made me feel so proud, and it quit being so hard. Doing it gradually helped me trust the process, and actually, see progress being made. If you can keep getting yourself out there for a short run, you’ll eventually realize that starting is the hardest part.
Did you focus on distance or pace first
At first, I was all about running a certain distance at a certain pace. It took me a while, but I realized that pace would come naturally and to only focus on running for a certain amount of time/distance. I’m now running slower than ever, but my runs feel better than ever. I can run a longer distance, for a longer amount of time, and I never get winded like I used to. I have turned off the audio cues to allow myself to run intuitively. Right now, I’m working on being able to run for one hour, no matter how fast or how many miles that takes me.
Do you run the entire time or break to walk?
I run the entire time. If I feel like I’m getting tired, or won’t be able to run any longer, I’ll round up the mile and run until it hits that solid number. Sometimes, I’ll stop for a quick ten seconds to stretch out my groin or shoulder, but I’m right back to it after that.
What is the biggest challenge you face while running now?
PERIOD CRAMPS. Struggling with endometriosis makes it even worse. The last thing I want to do when I’m in pain is to go out for a run, but I have noticed that exercise does help with the cramping. If the pain is too bad, I’ll save the run for the next day, but that is my biggest struggle right now. I also carry a lot of water weight when I’m on my period so I feel so sluggish. Okkkk & the heat. The summer heat and humidity in the south is rough.
How did you get past the mental block with running?
I get a mental block with running just about every time I have to go do it. It’s not that I don’t want to do it, it’s that I fear what this run could bring. Because I’ve dealt this runner’s knee, Achilles tendonitis, groin sprains, and other injuries, I fear that this could be the run that I start feeling those things again. I sometimes fear that I’ll let myself down and only be able to run half of what I set out for. When I get those thoughts, I have to remind myself that I’m doing this for enjoyment. After the first five minutes of my run, I lose all of that mental-block and anxiety that comes with starting. The endorphins start to kick in, and I feel more proud than nervous. If you can push through that mental block, you’ll feel so good once you’re done. The way I feel after a run is why I get out there to do it. The rest of my day feels relaxed, and my thoughts are more transparent.
I get so self-conscious & frustrated because I know what fitness level I used to be, & now I’m so unfit.
I feel you. I think that’s what kept me from going back into running for so long. I once could run ten miles, but then could barely run one. It was so discouraging. Remember that before you were ever at a higher fitness level, you were also at ground zero. It takes time and determination to work yourself back up. The cool thing is that you already know you’re capable of doing it. You have to come up with a goal plan to get yourself back to the level you wish to be on. That self-consciousness will go away after you start crushing goals and working your way back up. When you look back on how you’re feeling right now, you’re going to be so proud of yourself. It’s all worth it in the end.
Who do you like to follow for running inspiration?
Following people who inspire you is one of my favorite things about Instagram. Most of the time, the people without a billion followers are the ones that inspire me most. I love following @dietitiangoesrunning for running inspiration. She’s a mom, a dietitian, and is an incredible runner! Every time I see her running posts, it makes me want to get out there and run. She’s also a running coach! I just downloaded her recipe e-book, and I’ll be making her brownies later this afternoon. And not to be biased or anything, but she’s from my hometown, so that makes me like her even more. Apparently, it runs in the family though, because her sister @banannarunning is just as inspiring! I also love following @elizabeth_healthy_life because she’s the sweetest, most down to earth, hard working person I know! She shares her struggles and strengths, and I love every single one of her posts. She runs for a very special reason, and I think you all will just love her. A quick few others I love to follow are @luluruns315, @runtothefinish, and most of my real-life friends. Watching Caitlin run consecutive races in Disney while battling lymphedema in her leg was one of the biggest things that inspired me just to start again. She crushes her races and overcomes the obstacles, and that motivates me to do the same. It’s important to find people that inspire you to be better.
How do you motivate yourself on days you don’t feel like running?
If I do not feel like running, which has only happened a couple of times, I won’t do it. I’ll just put it off until the next day. What has helped me stick to running on the days when I’m not up for it is that I “try.” I put on my running shoes, make a playlist, and tell myself that I can stop anytime I want. I have found on the days where I have no expectations, and I just “try” to run, those end up being my best days. I hit my first 4, and 5 mile runs on the days when I didn’t want to be out there doing it.
What are your favorite things to eat before a run and favorite things to eat after a run?
Before a run, I love my protein oats for breakfast. After a run, I love a date stuffed with peanut butter. Peanut butter and banana are also my favorite post or pre-workout snack.
Will you be racing?
I have no plans of racing at all right now. If I race, it’ll be a last-minute decision and nothing I train for. I may do some 5k’s because those are super fun, and usually for a good cause.
I think the best thing about running is finding a pair of shoes that fits you best! I want to help motivate you to start running, or to continue running by giving away a brand new pair of running shoes! The winner will receive a $100 gift card to Asics (because those are the shoes I love most!) All you have to do is answer the questions below in the comment section for a chance to win! 💜
Questions for you!
- What keeps you from running?
- Are there any questions you’d like me to answer?
- Should I run a 5k with one of my readers?