If I’d had any idea how good it would feel to enjoy running, I would have started a long time ago. Actually, I did attempt to start a few years ago through the encouragement of two dear friends who were my accountability partners and prayer warriors at the time. Because of their enthusiasm for the sport, I drove to the closest running store, was fitted for shoes, and found myself running alongside them at a local park at something like 6:30 am for a couple of mornings. All I remember about those few (two?) times that we got together is that 1) it was extremely cold!; 2) I was pitifully out of shape and felt like I was huffing and puffing the entire time; and 3) I couldn’t wait for one of my them to announce that we were done so we could go to Starbucks!

Now, three years later and over halfway into a “Couch to 5K” program, I finally get it. I don’t think you can really convince someone to become a runner until they try it and see for themselves how enjoyable it is. I think the reason I didn’t enjoy it before is because I wasn’t feeding myself healthy foods and so I didn’t feel like I had much energy to expend. Also, I think I was attempting to run faster than I should have so I could keep up with my friends. Now that I have 6 weeks of a radically improved diet in my favor, I’ve started to lose weight and have much more energy. Running by myself also allows me to go as slow as I need to (and most of the time that’s pretty slow!). Simply put, that 30 to 45-minute window has become the best part of my day.

My awesome brother loaned me his iPod Touch so I could listen to music and with it (don’t even get me started on why my Windows Phone won’t do this) and while I was getting my playlist set up, I decided to go ahead and install the Nike+ app, too. I *love* that program! I’m a very visual person and so all the little icons and graphs are right up my alley. I’m using it for my running journal, as recommended by Jeff Galloway, whose books I’ve checked out from the library and have also read.

Since I’m still very much overweight and have Osgood-Schlatter disease in one knee, I was intrigued to learn more about the Galloway “walk/run/walk” method. If I’ve had any complaint at all about the runs I’ve done thus far, it’s that my knees do hurt sometimes. I’m such a competitive person that I’m finding it hard to stop and walk when my knees tell me I should; I would rather continue running so I can have the satisfaction of knowing that I could do it! Even though by doing that, I cause myself to *not* be able to run the next day because I overdid it the day before. It makes no sense at all and I clearly have no one to blame but the crazy person inside my head! Which reminds me of the following quote from one of Galloway’s books, regarding running on roads:

“Assume that all drivers are either crazy or drunk.” –Jeff Galloway

I was supposed to have run my first 5K today, a local color run-type event in a small town, but it was postponed because their colors didn’t arrive. You definitely can’t have a color run without color so it will probably be rescheduled for early March. In the meantime, I have signed up for another March race as well as the official Color Run in Atlanta in April. I’ll be meeting my three closest friends from my time in NC there, all of whom have been my biggest encouragers over the years. I can’t imagine a more perfect start to this new phase of my life than to share a fun 5K with the three of them. Additionally, I’m going to go ahead and start to train for a 10K at the end of April. Depending on how that goes, I may decide to go for a half marathon by the end of the year!

For those of you who are local to me, these are the races that I’m tentatively planning to run. The ones in bold are the ones that I’ve already signed up for.

Feb: Dewey Dash 5K (postponed to March)
Mar: Legacy Run for Life 5K  (22, Albany)
Apr: The Color Run 5K (5, Atlanta); Rose City Run 10K (26, Thomasville)
May: Gnat Days 5K (3, Camilla); Chic Fil A Running Series 5K  (17, Perry)
Sep: Quail Trail 5K (Thomasville)
Oct: Wildlife Festival 5K (4, Pelham); Boston Mini Marathon (25, Boston GA)
Nov: Run for Rover 5K (Thomasville)
Dec: Red Nose Run 5K/Half Marathon (13? Thomasville)

A question for runners

Now that I have 5 weeks of running under my belt and have committed to running some races this year, I have a burning question that I need “real” runners to answer: when people run a marathon (or half or 10K, even), do they generally run the entire distance? Or do they do the walk/run/walk intervals as recommended by Galloway? I always assumed that the point of a Couch to 5K-type program was to get you to the point where you didn’t need any walk intervals, but Galloway seems to recommend walk intervals even if you’re a highly conditioned athlete. I know that anyone who was experiencing pain or felt that they absolutely had to stop would walk during a run if they needed to, but do you stop to walk even when you *don’t* necessarily feel like you need to? I’d love to hear your feedback!