Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Runner's Angst

I started running at sea level. Mistake.

As someone who needs to feel progress in order to keep my motivation, a week of successful running in  D.C. at sea level followed by a rude awakening to the mile high left me feeling what little progress I had made in my quest to runneth had been rebuffed. Discouraging? Yep.

Now, I am not proud, but I think the longest distance I have ever run is, maybe, two miles. I am simply not a runner. I have never experienced the famed "runner's high." I wanted to, I really did, but learning to run with my attention span, it just never quite fit. As I have learned, becoming a runner is a marathon, not a sprint, and I live my life in a series of sprints...as I just have no patience for this marathon junk. So...two miles it is, was...until recently.

Having a baby changes you. Yes, my heart is more open, I see the world more clearly, I love more deeply, blah, blah, blah, but really, my stomach is more saggy and I feel like I should be rocking 'mom jeans,' pleats and all. Yet, my friends/family who are runners are still sporting their six-packs and playing beach volleyball in a two-piece swimsuit. Gasp. So, in addition to wanting to get into better shape for my health and future, wah., I would like to look down to my abdomen and see more firm and less flan. Call me vain...I own it...but Runner's World, here I come.

I have begun on the treadmill, although the outside does beckon, so too does The Simpsons reruns on the large flat screen TV to help time pass. Running for the past few days, I haven't gone far, maybe 7 tenths of a mile daily (without walking...haha)...and have slammed right into the usual problems I seem to face when beginning to run. Shins and ankles...shins and ankles. I try to run through, because I am that tough, but really...they hurt, and well...I am not that tough.

I have transitioned to non-impact machines, which do not accomplish the whole "running" thing, but do pose less problems for my lower legs. I have also decided that warming-up, stretching, and not running at capacity just to beat the guy next to me for the two minutes I can keep up with him are essential.

Would love any input...novice runners to pros? Advice for the lower legs, morale, or both...


Annie said...

I'm so excited that you're running! I absolutely started at 7/10s of a mile if it was a good day. You just have to find your "pace," and it's different road for everyone. I think it's actually easier to start outside and go by landmarks or minutes running. I still struggle a lot with treadmills - I can't slow down when I need too!
Warm up, stretch, and ice before bed help a lot for lower legs. I know a bunch of exercises, too - maybe we can get together sometime soon?

The Z Gallery said...

Congratulations! First of all. I am so excited for you. Trust me, the "runner's high" will come with time. To help with the aches and pains, go to a running store. Yes, go shopping!! They will watch you walk and even watch you run, and tell you the best shoe for your gait. I was scepticle but went anyway. You know me...I never really need a reason to go shopping! So, they watched me walk and watched me run in my old shoes and the worker said...do you have pain in your knees when you run? Why yes, that was my main complaint! How did he know? He said after watching me walk he could tell that I walk on the outside of my feet which puts a lot of pressure on my knees. So of course, his pitch was to sell me these $130 shoes that force my foot to run on the bottom of my feet instead of the outside. Still scepticle, I told Brian I didn't know if I wanted to spend that much on shoes. He said go for it and try them, you never know. I will have to say, the salesman was right! I don't have pain in my knees anymore when I run! Go figure...he actually wasn't just trying to get me to buy some expensive shoe!

Next. Run at your own pace. Even if it is a jog more than a run. That's how I started.

Third. Run outside whenever you can. I always told people I was afraid of the "boogie" man getting me when I ran outside. I think that was just an excuse. Now, I dread getting on the treadmill, and can't wait for all this white stuff to be gone, so I can run outside again.

Happy running!! Let me know how it goes!

Kristen said...

Thanks, girls...you make me excited not only to run, but that I may even find some success. What??

Here's hoping...I will keep you updated, for sure!! Keep those suggestions coming!!

Kate said...

Hey Kristen

I second the idea about getting good running shoes - they are an investment. Here are a couple of other ideas.

1. Strengthen your feet and shins. Strong feet will help keep your knees in alignment. This is a good exercise to help your shins: While barefoot, put a sock on the ground and pick it up with your toes. Doing that on both feet a couple of times a day will help. Also, walking around the house barefoot, or just in socks will also strengthen the muscles in your feet.

2. Strong core: Getting a strong core is good not only for running strength, but also for toning the old ab muscles. Try a Big X routine. This is how you would do a Big 6:
Do 6 pushups. Immediately roll over onto your back and do 6 ab exercises that work your center abs (i.e., crunches). Then do 6 crunches that work your right abs (obliques), then 6 that work your left obliques. Then, do 5 pushups, 5 center abs, 5 right abs, 5 lefts abs, 4 pushups....and so on down to 1. Each set gets a little harder, but since you're doing few reps, it's a good way to get in a lot of pushups and crunches. For a Big 7, Start with 7 reps and work backwards to 1. Each week, you can just build up to a higher number of reps. If you hit a Big 10, by the end of the routine, you'll have done 55 pushups and 165 crunches!

3. Don't be afraid to "break up" the run. You might find that you're able to get in more cardio time if you alternate running for 5 minutes, then walking (or jogging really slowly) for 1 minute. As you get stronger, you can make the walking/slow jogging periods even shorter or eliminate them all together.

4. Mix up your days. To keep yourself motivated, try doing different things at different paces each day. Some days, try going for a shorter distance at a faster pace. Other days, go for longer distances at slower paces. If you're outside, you can pick little landmarks and work toward them. For example, you could be jogging along and see a random mailbox up the street and then pick up the pace until you reach the mailbox. After a few minutes of easy jogging, pick another landmark and go a little faster until you reach that.

Hope all this helps and good luck! I'm sure once the weather becomes beautiful you'll enjoy running outside so much!