My New Favorite Holiday- Happy 4th of July!

Fourth of July weekend is fun for everyone- BBQs, fireworks, lots of sunshine!  This weekend I get to raise a glass to myself.  One year ago today, July 4, 2013, I went for my first run ever. It was slow and involved just as much walking as running, but what a beautiful thing it started!

I trained all summer for my first 5k.  Following a training plan helped make the running habit stick since it encouraged me to work hard no matter how hot it was or what other plans I had.  With the support of my family and wonderful boyfriend, Mike, I finished the 5k without any walking breaks, and faster than I thought I would!

After the race, I let my running slack a bit.  In October I realized I needed a new goal if I was going to keep running so I started training for a 10k.  As it quickly got colder I realized I wasn’t quite ready for outdoor winter running. 

I ran when I could stand it in the cold (not much) and did some strength training when I was stuck inside.  Once the weather started warming up, I started running more and more.  It took a little while to get back into it but once I did I felt better than ever and ready for my next challenge.  

I started a 24-week half marathon training plan.  I followed it for a few weeks but then I was recommended a different plan.  It was shorter and ends perfectly timed for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon in Philly so I got my sister on board too!

The past year with running has had its ups and downs but I’m so thankful for whatever clicked in my head a year ago.  I love to compare where I am each day to where I was a year before.  A year ago I would never have believed that I would get up early to fit in a 3 mile run, which is actually a short run for the week in my training plan!

Running has also helped my health dramatically.  I used to use asthma as my excuse for why I wasn’t active.  Now that I’m running, I’ve improved my lung function significantly and feel so awesome about it.  I got a sample rescue inhaler last time I went to the allergist that only had 15 uses on it.  8 months later I still have 5 uses left on it!

Looking forward to the year ahead, I have a few goals.  First, I am going to finish training for and then run my first half marathon.  (That’s another one of those things that I can’t believe I’m saying.  I would have laughed before if anyone told me I would ever do that!)  After that I want to actually keep up my running through the fall and winter.  I also want to work on speeding up so I will work on getting a faster 5k.

Happy 4th of July so everyone and a special cheers to all the runners!

 

Advertisements

I did it!

Yesterday, I RAN A WHOLE 5k!!!

When I first started training, I got my boyfriend to agree to run the 5k with me.  He is really athletic, has done team sports his whole life and works out all the time.  I went running with him once in the first few weeks I was running but I was still too slow to go with him so I decided I wouldn’t run with him again until race day.  I spent two months getting ready for the race.  The weekend before he decided he should probably go for a run this week (at least longer than a mile).  I know I can’t compete with or compare myself to him but he is great for the support!

Race day came and we showed up to the site nice and early.  It was both of our first road races so neither of us really knew what to do but we got our stuff and pinned our numbers on.  We walked around a little bit to get warmed up and then they called everyone together for the opening ceremonies.  There was the 5k race and a 1 mile family walk going on so they called the 5k group up to the starting line first.  After the national anthem we were off!  The first mile flew by, probably because it was all downhill.  Since Mike (my boyfriend) got to run with me, I had to keep reminding him to slow down.  I didn’t want to go too fast at the beginning and not be able to finish at the end.

Halfway through there was a water station.  I got a cup but I never tried to drink water while running before so when I did try I ended up with a cramp in my side.  We slowed down a bit after that but kept running!  The last part of the race was all uphill so I really slowed down for that.  My chest was starting to get tight when we saw the finish line in the park.  We still had to run up the road and through the entrance of the park before we could cross the line.  Seeing it helped me push through though!  We finally crossed through into the park.  When I saw the clock ticking above the finish line I got an extra boost of adrenaline and sprinted the rest of the way!  I finished my first 5k in just under 32 minutes and I was so excited about it!

Image

That’s us after the race!

Two days til the 5k!

At this time on Saturday, I will be able to say I ran a 5k.  Wow!  It’s crazy how fast this summer flew by and crazy to think I finished my training and I’m ready for the race.  I got some more information about the race route and it is going to be “a little hilly.”  Thankfully, I’ve done all my training on the huge hills around my neighborhood.  I’m hoping that my training was “a lot hilly” compared to their “little hilly!”

Now for some fantastic news:  I went to the allergist yesterday for a follow up visit and got a pulmonary function test like I do every time to see how my asthma is controlled.  My lungs are doing fantastic!  And the best way for me to get off of my asthma medications is to keep running!  If I needed any more reassurance to keep it up, this was it!  After specifically avoiding running so many years because of my asthma, I’m so glad I finally decided to just do it and have seen it pay off. 

Busy weekend ahead, but no running :(

I ran my 2.5 miles yesterday.  I’m really enjoying being able to say I can do that!  I was considering running the end of the loop instead of walking to get closer to running 5k but the hills were too much for me at the end.  

Now it’s time for a busy weekend, with no running unfortunately, unless I can fit some in on Sunday.  I’m having a graduation party tomorrow so I won’t be able to run today or tomorrow as we get everything ready.  I have a friend from school spending the weekend and getting here in a few hours. I’m so excited to see her!  She is leaving on Sunday so depending on when she leaves I might be able to fit in a run.

One step closer!

My run yesterday was AWESOME! After 5 minutes of walking to warm up I ran the whole thing (except for the bathroom breaks for the dog)!!! Did I enjoy every moment of it? Absolutely not. My calves hurt, my chest got a little tight, and I was really not loving all the hills along the way. But what matters to me is that I actually did it! I feel so much better now that I will actually be able to run the whole 5k and I’m really excited about that. Some things that I think contributed to my success: I drank lots of water all day long, I ate well all day, and I just kept thinking “why not go just a little bit farther?”

I think I’m going to stop running with the dog. I know it will break his heart when I lace up my sneakers but don’t grab the leash on the way out the door. But I think he is better suited for the walks he takes with my mom than the runs I go on. He loves to sniff around and weaves back and forth which gets to be a problem when he runs into me and almost trips me. He also takes frequent bathroom breaks, which slows down my pace, especially when I want to just keep going. My mom said she has another collar I can try for him to keep him listening but if that doesn’t work I’ll be running on my own from now on!

Trying to stick to the plan

I love plans.  I also really love when plans work out.  That is probably why I am struggling right now.  I want to know what I will be doing with the rest of my life, as unrealistic as that is.  I want to know that I will get into medical school so that I start classes this time next year and I want to know where that will be.  Now that I have my primary application in for processing, there isn’t a whole lot more that I can do right now to make that happen. So instead, I will plan for the one thing I do have some control over… my running! 26 days til the 5k!

 

Usually I run every other day but I have a graduation party this weekend and friends will be staying over so I probably won’t get to run Friday through Sunday.  Instead, I’ll move up the runs and then take the whole weekend off to rest (and enjoy the party!). I’m following a training plan from the RunKeeper app but I’ve been adjusting the dates from the beginning anyways. I’ll also try to add in some yoga on Tuesday because I’ve noticed I really need to add in training other than running to get me to my strongest.

Monday: 2.5 mile run

Wednesday: 50 minute walk/jog

Thursday: 2.5 mile run

 

This past weekend I ran both Saturday (to make up for the rain on Friday) and Sunday.  I wasn’t particularly thrilled with my run on Saturday but at least I went!  I need a little more motivation to keep pushing myself to run and not take so many walking breaks.  Sunday was intervals (one minute fast, one minute slow).  I tried out a new leash for the dog but it was too short so I kept tripping on him or he kept pulling me too far.  By the time I made it around the loop I hadn’t finished all the intervals I was supposed to do but I couldn’t run with him anymore.  I should have dropped him off at home and kept going for a few more minutes but I just stopped instead.  I might actually try running without the dog this week to see what it’s like since I won’t have him on race day!

To run or not to run… that is the question!

When I woke up this morning and saw that it was raining, I spent the whole time I was getting ready convincing myself that I didn’t have to run today.  “I’m tired. I’m still a little sore.  It will be too cold if I run in the rain.  I haven’t run while it is raining this hard before.  I can just run this weekend.” And then in the car on my way to work, I somehow managed to convince myself that it actually was a good idea (even though it was still raining)!  But then I checked the hourly forecast to see what it would be like after work.  Thunderstorms, of course.  So now I have to spend the rest of the day re-convincing myself that it will be ok if I don’t run tonight and go tomorrow morning instead!  I can’t help but feel a little bummed out.  Since I used to HATE running, I have tried to take advantage of every time I get really excited to run but today’s thunder is going to slow that down a bit.  Oh well! 

Favorite things about running… and a training update

Sticking with my training plan, I went for a nice 55 minute walk yesterday and it ending up being almost 4 miles.  Since I have been tracking with RunKeeper, I got a personal best for distance, duration, distance in a week, and elevation climb in a week. It’s nice to see the progress I’m making!  When you go on the RunKeeper website you can see all kinds of graphs based on your runs.  When I only had a few runs under my belt, they weren’t really helpful to show anything but now that I have a lot more it’s fun to see my distances increasing and my paces decreasing!

So now for some of my favorite things about running!  Let’s start before I even get out the door.  One of my favorite things is how excited my dog gets when he knows we are going for a walk/run.  As soon as he sees a pair of sneakers he perks right up and runs all around the house.  He is even starting to recognize my running shorts!  Once you grab the leash you can’t change your mind about heading out because he is chomping at the bit to get going!  As soon as I open the door he runs right out and races around the outside of the house. He meets me just as I get to the tree at the top of the driveway where I put on the leash and take off the electric collar (for the invisible fence).  If only everyone could be that excited to go exercise!

Another thing I love about running is how I keep surprising myself.  A month in and I am still going strong!  One day, I wasn’t feeling great as I drove home from work and almost convinced myself I didn’t need to run but I still went out and had one of my best runs that day!  Another day I had run most of the loop that I take but I was tired so I was walking because I knew the rest of the way back home was uphill.  I guess I had a little extra oomph in me because all of a sudden I’m running again and made it all the way back home!  These little surprises have made running that much more worthwhile. 

Habits to make/break

As I go into this last month before the race, there are some bad habits I know I need to fix and good habits to start to keep my training fun and injury free.

  1. Stretch after I run- I know how important stretching is to keep me injury free and yet I always end up plopping down on the couch in front of the tv after a run without stretching.  Moving forward, I need to start incorporating it into my running routine.  I want to make it such a habit that I naturally start doing it instead of having to think about it.  I need to come up with a good list of stretches to do that I can remember each time!
  2. Strength train- In all the research I have done since I started running, I have seen again and again how strength training is great to add for runners.  I’m usually pretty tired after runs and don’t really know where to start so I haven’t done any yet.  I have the Nike Training Club app that has short workouts to do and they target different areas of the body so I think I’ll try to add those either after I run or on days when I don’t go out.
  3. Drink enough water- Another thing I know is so important and there have still been too many days where I know I just haven’t had enough water.  I’m going to start bringing more water with me throughout the day and make sure I actually drink it.  I had a run the other week that was my first real bad run where I just felt miserable the whole time and had no fun.  After I finished, I realized it was probably in part because I barely drank anything throughout the day.
  4. Remember my rest days- When I first started I was so eager to get into 5k shape that I skipped rest days.  That was a big mistake.  Starting at nothing and working into some intense runs, my body really needed the recovery from rest days. I have been better at taking days off but still get a little antsy so maybe I’ll try to do some yoga on the off days.  Perfect to get me stronger and more flexible at the same time!

The beginning

Now that I have graduated, I guess it is time to pick up some new habits.  Now that I know I can stick with running (it’s been over a month since I started!), let’s see if I can write about it too.

I am going to run my first 5k on Sept. 7 and run my first half-marathon before my brother’s wedding in June.  If you had told me a year ago that those words would come out of my mouth, I would have laughed right in your face.  I hated running, probably because of my uncontrolled asthma, and just didn’t understand the appeal.  I would do some occasional yoga but stayed away from anything cardio related.  After going to the allergist for a few years now, I realized my breathing was back under control and I had no excuse.  I wanted to actually get in shape and what better way than running? As goal driven as I am, being able to measure progress through stats like distance and pace is the perfect motivation.  The first step is the 5k this September.  When I shared my goal with family and friends, I learned that my brother’s fiancee wants to run a half-marathon before the wedding in June so after I finish training for the 5k, I’m going to up the mileage to do that race with her.  It will be interesting to see if I can keep up the training when the temperature drops and the days get shorter!

How I started: I was scrolling through my phone on the long 4th of July weekend trying to find new apps to keep me entertained.  I don’t know what possessed me but I clicked on RunKeeper and haven’t looked back since.  After checking out all the different training plans offered, I found the perfect one for me, a beginner 5k plan.  It’s the perfect mix of walks, runs, and interval training to ease me in and keep it exciting.  I put the leash on the dog and started the first run!  I have been following the plan for just over a month now and I can absolutely see the difference from when I started.  I take fewer walking breaks, I can go further and I can actually run all of the intervals.  I have really surprised myself with how dedicated I have been to training and pushing myself.