As I ran (or more accurately, limped) down the street wondering how much further our stopping point was, this famous quote ran through my head: "The trouble with jogging is that by the time you realize you're not in shape for it, it's too far to walk back."
I'd been invited by a co-worker to join a Team in Training running team. Before that day the only running I did was....OK, I never ran! :-) However, this was worth it because I could accomplish 2 goals: raise money for a great cause (The Leukemia Society) AND get in shape.
On this first day, I was asked to run three miles. We'd run to the local school that was 1.5 miles away and then back to our starting point. In this moment, I realized 13.1 miles was not going to just happen without help. Team In Training provided me with Coby Pewitt, an outstanding coach.
Coby wasn’t your typical high school track star! He didn’t start running until age 30 when he trained for four months for his first marathon. Today, he's a Beachbody Coach and has run over 25 marathons! Coby has been involved with Team in Training for a number of years and during that time, he’s helped hundreds of beginners run marathons - successfully!
Coby shared 7 tips that will get us off our comfy couches and running:
Anyone can do it! Whether it’s a 5K or a 26 mile marathon, Coby found that many people don't believe they can run. After years of experience, he knows that anyone can learn to run distances of 5K or more! The physical challenges are usually quite small and easy to overcome. It’s the brain that usually gets in the way! It’s important to set achievable goals, stick to those goals, be willing to put in the work and it really helps to….
2. Buddy Up
Coby highly recommends that you don’t “go it alone!” Join a running group that can help you stick to your goals. There are MANY benefits:
*You’ll get knowledge and help from more experienced runners.
*They provide positive motivation and confidence.
*They provide accountability. You’ll think twice about not showing up if you know the whole club is waiting for YOU!
*They’re convenient. Many running clubs offer weekly group runs, usually on a Saturday morning.
*You’ll meet new people. I met several great friends in my running club.
*You’ll feel safe. First, you’re running with a group. Also, new runners won’t feel intimidated because there are different runs for different levels. And, because there’s a wide variety of experience levels, I feel more comfortable to go at the pace my body needs and not push toward an injury.
*It’s not just about you. It becomes bigger than you if you run a race for charity. Many charities such as Susan G. Komen, Team In Training or Inheritance for Hope offer training programs to help you prepare for a race while giving back to the community.
3. Buy the Right Stuff
Coby recommends getting a good pair of running shoes fitted by a professional. Go to a store (like RunOn or Luke's Locker) that specializes in running and not a big box retailer who may have "stale" running shoes on the shelves. Be sure your fit specialist has the ability to quickly analyze how you run and if you need corrective help from your shoes.
In addition, DO NOT WEAR COTTON. Choose fabrics that breathe - invest in some technical running clothes. Unlike cotton clothing, synthetic fabrics such as CoolMax or Dri-Fit, wick moisture away from your skin. Although they may cost a little more, you'll appreciate the comfort, especially during long runs.
4. Build a Schedule
It comes down to consistency! To really succeed, you must keep to a training schedule! It's not going to work if you just run one day a week and then try to run a 5K or a half marathon. Trust me, I tried (it was not pretty!). According to Coby, you can get daily routine schedules from coaches or online programs/iPhone apps – there are many that help you go from the couch to the run of your choice.
5. Breathe the Air
Coby highly recommends running outdoors. Treadmills are OK, but it's easier to take a vacation from life and disengage by running outside. It also allows you to go at a variety of paces, enjoy the hills and scenery vs. a machine at a constant pace (not to mention having to stare at that dude on treadmill #29 who should NOT be wearing those shorts).
6. Balance Your Nutrition
Coby warns against going on a low-carb diet when you’re training to run – apparently, running and the Atkins diet do NOT mix! Prepare your body with carbohydrates needed to fuel your run - a bagel, toast, banana or oatmeal.
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate – this was the constant reminder I received from both of my coaches! While running, you should drink 4-6oz of water and/or an electrolyte replacement every 30 minutes. Today, there are great sugar-free, low-calorie options. Also, check out the new updates in energy enhancers at your local nutrition store.
How does YOUR body run? New studies show that it’s important to use your own natural step and moves when running. Just run the way your body moves and don't change based on the latest running trend.
Do not over-stretch before running! Stretching cold muscles can cause injuries. Coby recommends stretching at the one mile mark and then again at the end of the run. Stretch your quads, calves and I.T. bands for 30-60 seconds. Avoid shin splints by properly stretching your calf muscles.
Coby highly recommends the Galloway Method that allows for intervals of running and then walking. Many shy away from it because it's slow or gives the perception of weakness, but that’s simply not true. This method gives your body a rest by switching up the muscle groups with a training schedule of 1 minute of walking and 5 minutes of running. It’ll make you faster in the long run (pun intended) and it’s great for all runners - new or experienced.
Tell us your story! Have you gone from couch to 5K – do you have some tips to share? Comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org!