It all started in a weight room. As I grunted and strained under the guidance of my favorite training partner, she pitched a curveball my way (as if convincing me to deadlift wasn’t insane enough).
“We should go for a run around Wash Park,” Heather suggested.
My response? “Ha, okay. Good luck with that one.”
Because here’s the thing: I’ve never been into anything remotely involving cardio endurance. I lived for years under the strict rule that I don’t run unless I’m being chased. Why run when you can walk instead?
Reluctantly, I laced up my too-small sneakers and met my four-woman training crew near the pond at Washington Park. I felt almost sick with dread – I already hated running, and there was no way I’d be able to complete this 2.5 mile circuit around the park.
Then something unexpected happened. My feet began to hit the pavement in a rhythmic pitter-patter, my lungs filled sharply with cold Colorado air, and my entire body woke up from a hibernation I didn’t realize I had been in. I hardly made it a mile before I need to pause for fear of my body bursting from exertion – but within seconds, I wanted to run more.
It seems that I’ve become a runner. In a few weeks I went from being allergic to running to acquiring four pairs of running shoes, signing up for the BolderBoulder as a sponsored participant, and even doing a photo campaign for a major nationwide running brand.
So how does one become a runner overnight?
You just run.
In four short days, I’ll be running my first race. The BolderBoulder is the Front Range’s most beloved 10K – a true community event where speed doesn’t seem to be quite as important as having a memorable adventure while cruising through the streets, down slip-n-slides, and past live music. For once in my life I didn’t let my pursuits become encumbered by logistics or gear or personal limitations – I just put on shoes, and ran when it felt good. Some days, it didn’t feel so good, so I didn’t run. Becoming as runner has been one of the most organic recreational experiences I’ve ever had.
I’m no expert, but if you too have the itch to feel your feet slapping trails, here’s some rookie advice:
- Drink a lot of water. The #1 piece of advice for anyone doing anything outside. Hydrate.
- Invest in proper running shoes. I ran in too-small sneakers, hiking boots, and even hybrid water/trail shoes before realizing how important proper footwear is. Now that I run in Adidas and Skechers shoes, my body feels better, my feet feel better, and frankly, I don’t look like such a noob.
- Start with a friend who will pace you properly. Turns out, I have an issue with running way too fast. Luckily, Heather is an excellent pacer and taught me how to run slow. Because running slow = running further.
- Be mindful of your body. Running hurts, and your body will respond accordingly. I picked up runner’s knee within the first week, and had to tone it down while my joints got used to all the pavement pounding.
- Choose dirt over pavement. If you can, run on trails. I’ve found that it makes such a difference to run on soft surfaces instead of concrete. Not to mention the major upgrade in scenery when you go from a jog around the block to a jaunt through the trees.
Runners, what advice would you give to someone keen on the idea of dabbling with running?