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  1. #1
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    Calling all runners - newbie advice and motivation needed!!

    Some may call this a post-Olympics afterglow fad *coughMrFlocough*, but I have decided to start running.

    Having poured over a plethora of websites, the most advocated way seems to be variations on the 'Couch to 5k' 8 week plan; three training sessions a week designed to gradually build up stamina and increase running capacity with teh end result supposedly being the ability to run 5k without stopping.

    So I decided to go with the plan Running Bug and competed my first session this morning - 20 minutes of run/walk in 1 and 2 minute phases accordingly. I'm 38, 5'7'' and maybe 20llbs overweight but not too bad for my age. I used to teach dance (about 6 classes a week) and figured I did have some kind of fitness level. I started out ok but the last 3 minute combo of run/walk was HELL and I was practically crawling back up the street. My legs felt like lead and my shins were burning.

    So is this even possible? Does it get easier or is this some crackpot scheme that's totally impossible. What do the FSU running guru's advise? And how do I keep up my motivation?

    Also I am quite injury-prone and am the veteran of two calf tears and a recurring sacro-illiac sprain, so I am concerned that I'm heading for more of the same. I bought good running shoes and had my gait measured etc. The shoes felt fine. There isn't a lot of grass nearby so I have to do most of the running on pavements etc.

    So any advice, criticism, inspirational stories of going from couch potato to marathon runner? Post 'em here

  2. #2
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    Switch to cycling. You won't exacerbate your old injuries because you are moving above the ground, not pounding on it, and it combines both cardio and resistance training into one (or it does for those of us who aren't afraid of the higher pedal tensions).

  3. #3
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    Agreed that cycling would help to keep me injury free but (decent) bikes are pricey for me at the moment and the reason I chose running was the total lack of ££££ needed I do want to see if it is possible for me to run 5k without stopping and if I can achieve that, then I would certainly consider combining it with some cycling.

    Thanks for the tip.

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    The first couple of times I ran, it was total crap and just awful. Now I run 5K on a regular basis.

    The good shoes will help a lot. They did for me. But you are going to be sore for a bit.

    And as motivation, in a year? I've dropped 6% body fat.

  5. #5
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    I went from keeling over and dying after a half a mile, to running a full marathon a year and a half later. It's all about keeping motivated, and pacing yourself during your runs. The getting into the running habit is the hardest -- the first few runs are going to be awful and you might feel like giving up, but if you can push through those early on, it will get easier a lot faster than you think.

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by floskate View Post
    So is this even possible? Does it get easier or is this some crackpot scheme that's totally impossible. What do the FSU running guru's advise? And how do I keep up my motivation?

    So any advice, criticism, inspirational stories of going from couch potato to marathon runner? Post 'em here
    Does couch potato to half-marathon runner count? I started running about five years ago after having spent several years doing only sporadic exercise. I had always avoided runnin because I had bad knees from gymnastics, but for some reason I decided I just wanted to try it. A couple of my friends had been running for a little while and were up to running two minutes, walking one minute for 8 reps, which I though didn't sound so bad. Plus, one of them was an asthmatic and the other a smoker a smoker, so they assured me that I would be able to keep up with them. After the first two minutes, I thought I was going to die and didn't know how I was going to do that 7 more times. However, I did manage to stick with it and 4 months later ran a 9K leg in a marathon relay. I also ran my first half-marathon less than a year from when I first started running.

    In terms of motivation, the two biggest things that help me out are having a race to train for and a group to run with. It basically boils down to peer pressure and will keep me running on my own even if I can't make it to the group run. For example, this summer, I was traveling for 2 weeks and I knew that when I came back, my group was running 9K. So knowing that if I slacked off and didn't run while I was away, I'd never keep up with them, I brought my running stuff along with me and managed to get myself out for several runs on my vacation. Having a program to follow and a race date keep me on track too.

    I can't think of much in terms of other advice...glad to hear you've already got good shoes, as I learned that one the hard way. But congratulations on taking this big step!

  7. #7

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    It does get better, really. If it hurts too much or you are too winded, then just walk, but do it at a quicker than normal pace. Give yourself more time to reach your goal if necessary -- it will all come together. Do what it takes to NOT get hurt because that will derail everything. When you race, go out very slowly. And have fun with it -- you will feel great when you cross that first finish line!

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    Stretch before and after. Stretch as much as you think you need and then stretch a little more. I loved running but after a year every time I ran I started to get hives. Massive hives.

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    I started the couch to 5k plan last May and it's been fantastic. I too was winded and a bit achy at first, but I get better every week. Just be patient, don't give up, and most importantly, listen to your body!

    My motivational techniques:

    - I live within walking distance of a 409 acre Olmstead designed park. It has a loop for walkers/runners/cylists but also a number of trails through beautiful woods.

    - Good music on my Ipod with a beat that stimulates me to run.

    - Once or twice a week, I walk/run with a group from Blue Mile, a local shoe/athletic gear store. I can join them for free, or I can join one of their training programs. For now, I opt for the freebie. We compare notes when we hook up, so it would be very noticeable if I slacked off.

    - I often take my dog. She's a wee thing, just 12 lbs., but she always pulls at her leash for me to go faster!

    I am a generation older than you are, and I am, or at least I was, more overweight than you. If I can do it, I think just about anyone can succeed at this plan!

    P.S. On the days I take off from walking, I work out with weights/resistance equipment. The combination of cardio and strength training has improved my cardiovascular fitness level beyond what I initially expected. And I agree about the stretching part - it may be what has saved me from injury.

  10. #10
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    Gosh what a great response!! Thanks guys! It's great to read that so many have already done this. I felt so stupid this morning running down the street but apparently this is a common reaction. Not that I saw any runners anyway. I'm limited to where I can run as I don't drive, but there's enough to keep me going until I build up to longer distances.

    One drawback - there is no running club around here. Only a rather serious looking athletics club and I'm not really looking to train for the over 35's 400m hurdles!! Hopefully some networking will result in some running buddies and while I will see how it goes, I will look to setting my first race goal once I can run 5k. Just running continuously for 30 minutes seems to be totally unreachable right now so small steps. And don't worry I know my stretches

  11. #11
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    I used to run/jog about ten years ago but stopped because I honestly did not enjoy it. And I used to get shin splits. I did start up again this summer though because my elliptical broke and I need to do something or I'll be up another fifteen pounds.

    That said I use the method Oprah employed when she started running with Bob Greene. Its a walk/run increment method where you basically walk so many minutes then run. I did it in circuits in my driveway because luckily I can. My driveway also has a steep hill which helps.

    Long story short I can run twenty minutes straight no problem and could probably run thirty if I pushed myself. I still do some walking in between because frankly I am lazy. I have to do circuits though or I get bored. If I am doing a straight run, I pick a landmark that I have to make it too. And I could never do a marathon because no way can do this without music.

    My biggest piece of advice though is pace yourself. If you need to run slowly do it- don't worry how fast others are going because some people will be flying by you. If you try to hard to fast your going to be out of breathe and feeling useless and then your going to want to quit. Take it at your own stride. I like it because its something I get to do outdoors.

  12. #12

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    Hey floskate....I am not a runner, but I have lived with a runner for 32 years and he used to be the President of Phiddipides Sports Stores and a founder of the Peachtree Road Race. We also ran (as in administered) the Crescent City Classic in New Orleans for 15 years. Arthur Lydiard (google him) splept on my couch more than once. I know more about running as a non-runner than just about anybody.

    I have all kinds of thoughts. My first one is that if it means so much for you to try, do it. But do it wisely. I never got into it-it made me hurt everywhere and I have no aerobic abilities (I enjoyed weight training...more like ballet-sets and repetitions.) It made me cry with frustration because I just HATED IT.

    I did try to run for about 5-6 years almost daily, and I was a good walker up until several months ago when my back finally caved in. I will say that at 63 years, the pounding finally wrecked me. I'm sure I have other factors, but I know few runners who have been running 20+ years who are still at it, and most have had knee and hip replacements. Not all of us are suppose to do this. Most of us have bigger wills and egos than sense.

    But maybe you are one of the ones meant to do it! Just please, please, please start slowly, especially if you are 20 lbs overweight, which really isn't bad at all for 5'7"! I know you are enthusiastic, but doing too much too soon, even when it feels good, is a killer. I've been watching this for 30+ years. Don't just pace yourself, do less than you feel like doing for at least 3-6 months. Your body will build muscle, an expanded blood network in your heart, and you will have a base to go forward with.

    I will say that my husband, at 68, still runs 5 miles every morning. He is a true exception, and he will be the first to tell you that.

    And remember, anything more than running 3 miles a day is run for psychological reasons and not physical ones. The benefits max out after 3 miles a day (with at least one day a week off.)

    Good luck! Keep us posted!

  13. #13

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    I run 4-5 times per week...on the treadmill. Outdoor running (or most exercising, really, unless walking with a cup of coffee counts as exercise) bores me.

    But exercise is exercise.

    And how do I keep up my motivation?
    At first, the lower number on your scale will be pretty motivating. Also, these C25K allows for the accomplishment of new achievements every time you follow the program. Achieving those small(er) goals is something you should acknowledge to yourself because it shows you are progressing.

    I also find that the more active you are, the more confident you are in your own body and the more willing you are to try on different activities. Running is convenient for me and it works for my schedule. But I prefer other types of aerobic exercise. Changing your exercise regime every once in awhile will/should keep up your motivation to be/remain fit. If you find running no longer interests you, try something else.

    In terms of running outdoors, I do think running in an environment that you enjoy when you are "just" walking will enable you to keep moving. Running allows you to see more of that environment. Also, try out slightly new paths. Running outdoors provides the opportunity of exploration, which you don't get in a gym (which is fine by me; I like watching the news on television).

    If you see me running outside, it's because my gym is either too full or all the equipment is malfunctioning. Or I'm on holiday and the hotel gym is under "renovation." I tend to be more about time (I run 30 minutes and 30 seconds, no walking, and I'm done) than distance/speed.

    When in San Francisco a month or so ago, I ran in two different neighbourhoods (Mission District and SOMA) that I otherwise would not have been able to see due to time constraints. I google mapped to see what coffee shops were in those neighbourhoods. I ran my usual 30:30, making sure that I would end my run at the coffee shop. I would then walk/take transit back to my hotel. I preferred those two neighbourhoods over several of the more well-regarded neighbourhoods in the city.

    That's another thing. Get running shorts with zippers for your pockets.

    Ultimately, I exercise because I have to. I regard it like going to work or cheering on a Canadian Lady. You just do it.
    Last edited by manhn; 08-21-2012 at 06:39 PM.

  14. #14
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    The key thing is to take it slowly/gradually. (and good shoes too).

    You may also want to sign up for a clinic with the Running Room.

    Your description of the way you felt after your first outing sounded like you went to hard for your first time. Your shins burning does not sound good. Start by walking more and then gradually get up to ten minutes SLOW jogging, one minute walking, etc.

    There are some excellent books out there that are perfect for beginners - start at your local Running Room, they have knowledgeable staff, lots of clinics for all levels, and good books to get yu started.

    Good Luck - it's agreat sport if you take it slowly.

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    I second the recommendation to take it slowly. I also found it helpful to do some calf strengthening exercises and core strengthening exercises even if it meant one less day of running.
    "Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better." -- Samuel Beckett

  16. #16
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    All of the above is great advice. I took up running a couple of months ago and am now training for my first 10k in September. Definitely take it slow. I found following these training programmes religiously to be a bit counter productive personally. Your body will tell you how far to go, just make sure you listen to it. A good rule of thumb is you should never be too out of breath to hold a conversation. If you find yourself so out of breath that you can't, walk till you catch your breath and carry on. You will soon find it getting easier. Also, don't go out every day, rest days are very important, your muscles need them to repair and get stronger.

  17. #17

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    I don't run, but I do use the elliptical I bought myself three years ago. My doctor told me it would be an expensive clothes hanger, but I told him I was determined that wouldn't happen. I use a calendar on the wall to record my times and calories. Any month that has more than four blank squares is not a good month for me. I'm really kind to myself if I've been away on holidays or something - I start back with 5 minutes or so. Over exertion just doesn't pay. But I also know I exercise to get rid of pain in the hips and shoulders and back. I will have to exercise all my life to keep that pain away. Better than pills and ice packs. Good luck floskate, with your running.

  18. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by manhn View Post
    I run 4-5 times per week...on the treadmill. Outdoor running (or most exercising, really, unless walking with a cup of coffee counts as exercise) bores me.
    Weird, I find running on a treadmill WAY more boring than outside. Although I'm with you...exercise is something I do because I have to and so I try to mix it up as much as possible and find other ways to make it tolerable.

    Quote Originally Posted by Winnipeg View Post
    You may also want to sign up for a clinic with the Running Room.
    I don't think that the Running Room has expanded to Ireland yet, so that might be a challenge for floskate. But if anyone in Canada (or the limited US locations with Running Rooms) is thinking about getting into running, I would definitely recommend the Running Room. I think I've done about 8 clinics through them...I don't need the training program anymore, but it really helps with the motivation, running group, etc.

  19. #19
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    I started doing 5K's last year, after never having been a runner, or running at all, period, except for when I had to in the military. (at the time, a mile and a half, once a year). I can honestly say...I still don't enjoy it! But I like the effects it has had on my body, my weight, my energy, etc. I agree that sticking with it (like any lifestyle change, really) is key, and good shoes are of vital importance to help avoid injury (and even then, you are at the mercy of nature and your body) Another suggestion I would make, that has helped me, is to remember that you are not in competition with anyone while doing this; you are simply trying to do the best that YOU can do, and hopefully can better yourself with each run. It helps to stay motivated when you are just focused on challenging yourself. Keep a record of your training, to look back on when you get frustrated, to see how far you've come!!
    I am free of all prejudices. I hate everyone equally.~W. C. Fields

  20. #20
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    I've had an on-again-off-again relationship with running for the past 3 years. We're currently back in the "on" stage. The thing that has kept me the most motivated is my Nike+ system. Until I got that, I found it incredibly hard to stay focused while running, and spent all of my time wondering how long I'd been running, how much farther I should go, etc. With Nike+, I just turn on the music and go, and the lady in my headphones keeps me up to date on my progress. Plus, I can compare run times, distances, pace, etc. I've learned that I need to be able to measure my progress in some way, and this system is it.

    Currently, wanting to lose a few pounds is also keeping me motivated, because I've never done any activity that has taken the pounds off faster.

    I've only done two races: one 5k road race, and one 4.7k trail course. I'm thinking about doing a half-marathon soon, since I've been running longer distances lately. My best distance is 13k, which I ran last week, after doing 10k a few days before.

    When I first started running a few years ago, I did a program that increased your time each week, and didn't make you worry about distances at all. I quite liked that. It was an 8-week program that went something like this:

    Week 1
    Monday: Rest or cross-train (do something other than running)
    Tuesday: Walk 5 min, run or run/walk 15 min, walk 5 min
    Thursday: Same
    Saturday: Walk 5 min, run or run/walk 20-25 min, walk 5 min

    It simply continued on by adding time each week. The Tues/Thurs run was always a bit shorter, and the Saturday run was always the "long" run. At the end of the program, the goal was to run for 60 min, with or without walk breaks. For people returning to running, or those simply wanting to do the program again and increase the difficulty, you could go through it with slightly longer runs, and no walking at all.

    This is what works for me currently:
    - LOTS of stretching. I skated for over 20 years and have bad knees. I've also had problems with my IT bands, hip flexors, and lower back. I always stretch my calves, quads, and hip flexors, at minimum, before I run. I spend extra time stretching after the run, but the pre-run stretch is what has really kept the injuries at bay.
    - I don't worry about time until I start to hit the distances I want. My next goal is 15k. I don't worry about how long it will take me, or what pace I'll be at, I just want to do it.
    - I'm fine with being a slow runner. Speed will come the more I do it.
    - I usually set out with a short distance goal, and if I'm feeling good, I keep going. Then I always feel like I over-achieved my goal, instead of struggling to hit it if the run doesn't go well. I always aim for 5k minimum, and if I feel good I keep going.
    - I drink lots and lots and lots of water.
    - I've learned I don't do well running in the heat, so I try to avoid it.
    - I'm not a morning runner. I know my best runs come mid-day or later.
    - I don't often run on consecutive days, unless I'm doing really short runs (5k or less).
    - Walking helps you build strength and stamina for running. If you don't have it in you to do a run, at least go for a walk. I often walk on my in-between days.

    One of my most important rules is simply this: JUST GO FOR A RUN. If I'm tired, cranky, etc., just RUN. I don't need to do 10k every time. I don't even need to do 5k every time. Even if I put on my shoes and run for 15 minutes, I will have accomplished something.

    Running is one of the most challenging and rewarding things I've ever taken up. And it's nice to have a great community surrounding it, wherever I go. Good luck!
    Last edited by luna_skater; 08-22-2012 at 08:01 AM.

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