Slow and Steady wins the race! My tips for taking on running

It’s been about two months since I started training for the 5K race and even though the Lebanese summer vacation messed a bit with my training/eating routine I can proudly tell you that I’m getting better.

It started slow but I can really say I’m a runner now!!

Will I be able to run the whole 5K without walking for a few minutes? I don’t think so.

But will it affect my drive and motivation? No.

Will it affect my self-esteem if someone told me I shouldn’t call myself a runner or shouldn’t participate in a race? Of course not.

I’m happy with where I am right now and I know that with time I’ll be able to do better. This is my first race but surely not the last. By the end of day, it is a fun run. Even if I had signed up for the 10K challenge, I would have felt the same. After all, the message is empowering women through sports. The NGOs and charities participating are all outstanding and doing a great job each in their own field and just being part of such an event in Lebanon is amazing.

How did the training go?

In a nutshell, the training started with interval walking/running (Warm up walk: 5 minutes, 7 times; run 1 minute, walk: 1:30, cool down walk). Then the runs started increasing to 3 minutes until I was running for 15 and 20 minutes straight. Can you imagine me running for 15 minutes at a 7.14 pace and then feeling good about it? You know why it felt good? Because I was amazed with my body’s abilities and how it adapted to the runs in such short time.

Two weeks into the training though, I started feeling pain over the top of my right toes. I thought it was because I’m not used to running on a treadmill or my shoes are not so good. Then it extended to both feet as the running time increased. I read it was common but if the pain persisted more than three weeks, one should seek medical advice. Luckily, it didn’t.

Inevitably, some runs were better than others and so many factors came to play. The time of day I went for my run, the sleep I’ve had the night before, my lunch or pre-workout snack, the music playlist or some random mood thing. But even on the “bad” days, I came out with some positive. You see, I was experimenting to see which was working and which was not.

5k beirut

My tips for taking on running or any exercise for that matter:

1- Start really small. I mean really really small. I’m relatively an active person but I hadn’t run in a long time. So my first few times on the treadmill were mostly intervals of brisk walks and short runs. Then my running intervals became longer and now I’m running most of the time. Even if you never get to run fast or for a long distance, you are still doing a great job.

no matter how slow you go

2- Set a short-term achievable goal.  Running a 5K was on my bucket list for a little over a year but I never really did anything about it until I signed up for a race that was in two months. It gave me that limited time frame. Signing up for a half-marathon in this short time span would not have been achievable and it would have discouraged me.

3- Don’t forget to breathe. My first run was a mix of fun and awkwardness. During the first 1 minute interval, I got super excited that I ran the fastest I could and I was so taken with the upbeat music that I probably was singing along. The second interval run, I had to lower my speed and  it all went downhill from there. I started huffing and puffing like I haven’t done yoga in my life. And mind you, that was the first ten minutes. So I continued the rest of the workout walking briskly. I came home that day, researched proper running breathing techniques and practiced complete yogic breathing (both yoga and Pilates are excellent for runners). Now I run all the required time focusing on my breath and not the music (okay so maybe the music but during the warm up and cool down walks only ).

4- Make yourself accountable in front of other people. I’m blogging about it, I’m tweeting about it and sharing it on my Facebook page. I’m not annoying everyone though! I hope at least. Even the Beirut Marathon Association knows I’m signing in, so I better be running on May 26th, right?

Even if you’re the most private person and you’re not a fan of social media, just tell your family or some friends. Make sure they are people who won’t let you off the hook easily. By easily I mean they won’t let you go away without a workout for an invalid excuse. I’m not the one to decide which is valid to you, but let me cite a few examples that are standard in my book.  Saying I don’t have time is not valid. A 30 minute workout is only 2% of my day. If I have time to watch a favorite comedy show, I have time for a quick workout. Being tired and stressed is not valid. Exercise is a known mood booster and I’ll definitely feel better about myself after I’ve worked out. Especially, there won’t be any “I wish I had gone running” kind of guilt feelings afterwards (true story).  However, if say, I’m sick and the workout will worsen my condition, I’ll give my body the rest it needs.

5- Don’t limit yourself to one type of exercise: Using the same group of muscles takes its toll on the body. Vary things up. On days where I wasn’t running, I did yoga, I swam, I popped in a Tae Bo or a Pilates DVD. Exercising while my baby is awake is easier now. She’s no longer eyeing me sadly wanting me to hold her. Instead she’s laughing at my twists and downward dogs. She finds it amusing thinking we’re in a weird game of peekaboo! It is important as well to warm up and stretch after your runs.

6- Put your clothes on and then think about it. I put on my sports clothes as soon as I’m done with my daughter’s bath. I still probably have a couple of hours before I actually run , but that way even if I feel discouraged, I’m still going. I’m wearing my running shoes already. It makes no sense in taking them off and hitting the shower without sweating a little bit doesn’t it? So put on your workout clothes as soon as you get home from work. Do whatever you need to do and then get out of the door! Don’t overthink it!

running get out the door

7- Stick to a routine: In other words, do what works for YOU! If you’re used to exercising in the morning, do it. If you love running with music, make sure you have a playlist with you at all times. And so on..

8- Smile and think happy thoughts to keep you going. When you feel tired and think your legs or body are failing you, smile and bring a happy thought to mind! There was a red dot on the wall facing the treadmill that I focused on and that made me think of the finish line. I don’t know how but it just did. And now, since my girl is also participating in the 1K fun run with my sister, I’m seeing her face waiting for me to cross that finish line. I’ve seen the quote below circulating Pinterest  in different formats and all I have to say again: “ Do whatever works for you!”

ryan gosling

I am in no place to talk about all the benefits of running or how it has changed my life. I am just starting and so far I’m enjoying it. I’m loving how my body is getting stronger. I’m loving the buzz that I feel afterwards from achieving something I thought I could not do.

So, Why walk? Why run? Why exercise? Why cook?

Simply because YOU can!

4 thoughts on “Slow and Steady wins the race! My tips for taking on running

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