How to Start Running in 4 Easy Steps

Have you ever thought, “I’d really like to run, but there’s no way I can run __ miles.” OR “I used to run all the time! But I haven’t in forever.”?

Fear not, I’m here for ya. Solidarity.

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When I started running my longest distance was a 5k obstacle race that I basically walked with my kind, patient runner roommate back in college, and that was a good four years before I decided to lace up with effort. In high school, I was a baton twirler who avoided running like the plague, so you get my drift. Not. A. Runner. SO from a non-runner turned runner, the BEST advice I can give to someone who wants to start running for fun, for distance, for whatever your motivation is:

1. Start running, and run outside. Find a little neighborhood that you wish was yours if you’re like me and you live in the scary as shit inner city. Find a park, run around the street, go to an old high school track and run bleachers. Wherever makes you a happy, go there and put one foot in front of the other, but DO NOT run on a treadmill if you hate treadmills. Get outside, friend.

2. Set attainable goals, especially with running. Don’t lace up and expect to be the next Usain Bolt, and don’t lace up on your very first run thinking, “Five miles, baby. No stopping.”
NO, SILLY!
Setting distance goals are AMBITIOUS AND WONDERFUL, but start small and work from there. Don’t hurt yourself-that will NOT help you learn to love running! If you’re running and you find yourself struggling to keep moving, set an even smaller, realistic goal like “I’m going to make it to the sign by that tree, and then I’ll walk for one minute.” Next time you run that route, I’ll bet you make it past the sign by the tree.

3. Probably most importantly, FIND GOOD RUNNING SHOES (and socks when you go longer). When I started running, I knew nothing. TMI, but my toenails soon turned black and were threatening to fall off, because apparently my hot pink Asics were too small. Oops. Evidently it’s not good to run in the same size shoe you normally wear for fashion. Go to a running specialty shop and ask to be fitted; you won’t regret it. (Favorites in Texas: Luke’s Locker)

4. Be kind to yourself, and be patient for results. Some runs are going to suck, and others you’ll feel the full effects of the “runner’s high”. Sometimes you’ll probably hate running, but I promise if you stick with it, you will learn to appreciate what your body can do with just a little bit of time and consistency.

P.S. If you can find a community or friends to run with, it is SO.MUCH.EASIER. to not give up. If not, invite your friends to support you at the finish line after your training has paid off 🙂

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^ View from my run on Sunday’s “fall” Houston weather. No Garmin, no gadgets, and no headphones for this one. Just me, my two feet, and a beautiful afternoon = bliss.

Keep moving forward!

-Stacey

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One Year Race-iversary

My very first half marathon was in wine country.

STERLING

Apparently I can be convinced to run if I know wine is waiting on me at the finish line.
I ran (and walked and trotted) the forever sold-out Napa to Sonoma Wine Country Half Marathon, exactly one year ago from today’s date.

I was never a runner before this race- not even a little bit. Before Napa the greatest distance I had ever committed to was a 5K years before this race, and I distinctly remember walking alongside a participant who was drinking a beer between strides…if that tells you anything about my speed situation. I honestly just decided to start running, which is the best advice I can give to anyone who is thinking about running.
Just go for it! 

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Why now? I’m a Crohnie, and I needed to prove something to myself- I stumbled across the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation’s website after I discovered that my Crohn’s disease wasn’t going away, which took a couple of years for that sweet news to really sink in. I honestly didn’t realize there wasn’t a cure, and after nearly three years of on-again-off-again symptoms between infusions at the hospital every six to eight weeks, I was disgruntled and began searching for answers. That’s when I found Team Challenge.
(I know, this sounds like an infomercial. It’s not! Hang in there with me…)

Team Challenge is a fun-loving group of crohnies and/or caretakers or strangers who fundraise for the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation and train together for half marathons near, far, and beyond (they also do triathlons, too!). The funds raised support patient programs, provide education to the public, and my personal favorite, fund research. The particular season that I joined happened to be training for Napa. Sign me up!

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It was tough, especially balancing active Crohnie probs with running. But I was running with people who understood, or at least cared for someone who understood. Some mornings were amazeballs and I’d pump out a fast ten miles like it was nothing, but occasionally I’d have to cut a run short and sprint home to make it back in time to be sick. Other days I just couldn’t get out of bed, but beyond all the trials running changed me. Team Challenge changed me on a molecular level, and helped me accomplish more than I ever imagined for myself. Because of Team Challenge, I now identify as a runner (which in my mind sounds like I’m a little badass)

After the first couple of months of training, I actually began enjoying running. I even enjoyed early mornings (see? it changed me!)! Some runs were HARD, as in listening to the nike lady congratulate me through my headphones for my 12:30 pace hard. Others were amazeballs, and the good, brisk runs made me thankful for all the hard, terrible runs. Without perseverance through the hot, hard days of training, I wouldn’t have so many good runs. Every time I got a new PR, I cried happy tears- what a nice, normal sight for strangers to see. But I wasn’t in a hospital bed. I wasn’t in a fetal position on the bathroom floor. I wasn’t in my bed fatigued. I was defying sickness. I was testing the limits, and I was feeling truly alive.

Life is like that, too. Sometimes you wake up thinking, “How did this happen to me? How did I end up here?” Well. It’s not the end. You are going to be looking back one day thanking God and your lucky stars for keeping you through all the rough times, because they truly do make you stronger. Strength is something that’s hard to develop, but persevere. Reach, persist, believe, be determined, and stick it out. You will rise above. You’ll look back and marvel. And you’ll live to tell about it.

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Lindsay greeted me at the finish line with the biggest smile and sweetest hug (even though I was sweaty)! I don’t know my time from this race, but it was something ridiculously slow. The point to me was to finish, and that I did! I ran up hills and down through valleys next to family-owned vineyards and past small children with lemonade stands. I ran in wine country, yall! And I did it for cures.

One year race-iversary, and I’m hooked. Never.looking.back.

Keep moving forward 🙂

-Stacey


P.S. I am tremendously grateful for each of you who supported me through prayer, good ju-ju, or straight up financially so that I could cross the finish line and raise hell on behalf of fellow Crohnies. Thank you for believing in me, and thank you for believing in cures! I am always thankful for you (Phil 1:3)!