Up until two years ago, there was NOTHING I dreaded more than running. Now, I run four to seven miles almost every day — and I even find myself ENJOYING it! I promise: If I can do it, you can, too. Here’s some tips!
My whole life, my mom has been a runner, and it literally used to BAFFLE me. How could she find enjoyment out of something that made me feel SO miserable? How could she run more than a quarter of a mile and not want to pass out from exhaustion, like me, who would literally be panting after one lap around the track? I was a competitive cheerleader through freshman year of college, and those 2:30 minute routines took MAJOR stamina, but for some reason, I just could never go the distance when it came to running. Even lasting a straight HALF MILE seemed like hell! I would go to the gym and walk on the treadmill at an incline, and although I definitely felt the burn, I barely broke a sweat. One day, I finally decided I needed to push myself to the next level — and finally….it worked.
There are obviously tons of “couch to 5K”-type training methods that have helped people become better runners, but I found that doing it at my own pace was what worked best. Most people I know prefer running outside, but I actually perform better on the treadmill, where the machine sets the speed for me. To start out, rather than setting specific distance goals I needed to reach every day, I simply ran as far as I could — whether it be a quarter of a mile, half a mile, or, on the rare occasion, a full mile — and made sure I didn’t feel bad about myself if I had to stop or if I didn’t go as far as the day before. The rest of my workout would continue on in a run/walk fashion, seeing how far I could go before slowing down the pace.
Obviously, running on a treadmill can get INCREDIBLY boring, so I kept things interesting by changing up my speed every minute or two minutes, which sort of gave me something to look forward to: “Oh, just 20 more seconds until I go to the next speed!” Whenever I started getting super exhausted, I lowered down to my original pace and started it all over (For reference: I’m about 5’4″, and when I first began running, my starting pace was a 6.0, and I would max out at about 7.0).
This process was NOT easy at first. I would get to the gym, remember how miserable I was the day before, and simply want to return to my old ways. My biggest advice is simple: NEVER GIVE UP. You may not run as far as you did the day before, but just keep pushing yourself, and like me, it will all come together one day. It didn’t take long for me to be able to run more than one mile at a time, and even if it wasn’t always consistent, I still came back the next day and tried to go as far as I could.
Then, one day, it happened: I ran 3.4 miles straight, without stopping, in just over 30 minutes. It literally felt like a miracle. I was drenched in sweat afterward…but I never felt better. Breaking three miles was like the barrier I needed, and I’ve been able to do it ever since. Not long after that, I found I could run FIVE or SIX miles at a time — I’ve even gone as far as 10 on occasion, and have increased my speed drastically! Sure, there are some days where I’m just NOT feeling it, and even getting to three miles is a struggle, but it’s basically become second nature for me to be able to run several miles without being miserable.
Aside from just pushing myself and not giving up, I also started eating healthier when I began my quest to become a runner. Once I started losing weight from the diet and exercise combined, I found I had much more energy, which also helped with the workouts. I’m by no means a health nut, but for reference, my weekday diet generally consists of: 2 hardboiled eggs and fruit for breakfast, a turkey sandwich on rye bread or salad with only veggies and fat free dressing for lunch, small snack of SkinnyPop or Goldfish, chicken cutlet and a vegetable for dinner, and another small salty snack before bed.
Remember: This isn’t a weight loss guide, it’s just how I went from being a total couch potato to someone who loves running (but, hey, the weight loss was a nice plus)! GUYS, I PROMISE — IF I CAN DO THIS…SO CAN YOU!