How I Got Started
Me? I was never a runner growing up. Thinking about running used to make me cringe because memories of being the last one in gym class to finish the mile would flood my mind. Hell, I used to walk the mile on Wednesday afternoons. The pain of coming up with countless excuses, forging sick notes, skipping PE. I dreaded it so much. My dad put me in basketball during elementary and middle school. Of course, that didn't last long. Then college came. I gave rowing a shot, that didn't go far. Any sort of physical activity was literally the last thing on Earth I could imagine myself doing voluntarily up until 2013.
It's true what they say about the "Freshman 15." I found myself scavenging for food in college. I ate cup noodles soup, ordered Chinese take out, lots of Starbucks frappachinos, chili fries, ice cream, you name it. Whatever was around to eat, I ate it. I was at my heaviest during my third or fourth year in college (2011-2012-ish). I went shopping with my roommate one summer and wanted to buy a pair of shorts. We were at Nordstrom and I picked some of the ones I liked. At the time I thought I was a size 5, but no. Reality set in and I was a size 13. Now, don't get me wrong, I understand that we all come in different shapes and sizes. There's nothing wrong with being a size 13, but I, myself, wasn't happy with that.
I think that was the big turning point.
There was a gym at my school, so I would go after my 8 a.m. class and run for ten minutes because honestly, that was all I could give at the time. Running was hard to me. I didn't like it, but I didn't like my body image more. I did casual running for a bit, but wasn't seeing results I wanted.
My dad, who's 55, is a long time runner. I told him I wanted to sign up for an actual race, so we did just that. Mind you, at this time I knew NOTHING about races, nothing about running, proper form, shoes, zero, zip, zilch. We used to watch my dad run races in San Francisco when I was a kid and remember waiting at the finish line for him with my mom, my brothers and my grandma. I just remember there was a lot of people cheering, but that's all I knew about races. I thought it was pretty cool that people could accomplish those things, especially since I could barely run a mile. I wanted to be one of those people to do something I never really thought I could. My dad was very confident in me, but didn't set any expectations that I couldn't meet physically. He took me out to buy my first actual real pair of running shoes. He got me new running gear, socks, you name it! And we changed my diet completely, so I stopped eating meat and only ate fish once a week. I cut out all the Starbucks frappachinos, and drank tons of water.
My dad took me out on runs along the Embarcadero in San Francisco. If you run past Pier 39 and back, it's a good six mile loop. We started slow, and he paced me during the whole route. He told me if I ran too hard and too fast during my first few days of training, I might hate it and not want to stick with it anymore. We did the run and walk method, which worked, and it is a technique I recommend to all newbies! This method really built my endurance and stamina to the point where I didn't have to walk. I saw myself improving and I started to see the results I wanted. Plus, I found this one-on-one time with my dad invaluable. We spent time and hung out, but running with my dad was some real quality time bonding, which is something many dads don't get a chance to do with their daughter.
My dad was there the morning of my first race. He saw me take off in my wave and was there waiting at the finish line. We signed up for races together after that and trained a lot together. My dad wasn't just my dad, but my running coach. It soon came to a point where my dad and I weren't running the same pace anymore. I, of course, got faster with ample amounts of training. My dad told me he could no longer keep up with me during races, which was a bittersweet moment.
My dad has taught me a lot about running and training. "Whether you run a 1:28 or a 3:00, finishing is the important thing." That stuck with me most. Running is simply getting what you put into it. So if you put a lot of time, blood, sweat, tears and work, the rewards will be endless. It will become a lifelong habit. I have not looked back ever since my first race and I thank my dad for encouraging me to commit to one of the greatest passions I've ever known.
My dad and I at one of my first races, 2013.
So here I am. Present day with a lot of folks asking me how I got started and how they can get started? I hear a ton of excuses as to why they shouldn't: they don't have the right shoes, they don't own a sports bra, no time, no energy, the don't have a gym, blah blah blah. For every excuse I hear, I follow with, "how do you know until you've tried?" The beauty about running is that just about anyone who's anyone can do it and succeed and also has the power to change your life. I have gotten my family to start, my friends, my coworkers and ideally I want to get you (yes, you, the reader) to start too. Here are some of my most convincing reasons why you should run. Let me know if I'm wrong.
1. You can run EVERYWHERE. I do my share of traveling so my goal is to run wherever I am. I mean how cool is it to tell people you ran through a village in Indonesia, through the beaches of the Philippines, through the mountains of Nevada, through the blistering cold in Colorado? The more accessible your fitness routine is, the more you'll stick with it. Traveling for work? Vacation? You can run just about anywhere. Rain, sleet, snow, heat. You can still go for a run!
2. Make new friends. I've met some amazing people at the starting lines of races. I've also met some of the most amazing individuals I know through my local run club. The beauty of it is that these people become more than just your running buddies, they becomes friends, and they are all like-minded runners with similar goals.
3. "Me-Time". Running is the BEST "me-time" I get. It's my time to unravel the day, reflect, think and plan. Running is my stress reliever. If I have stress going on in my personal life, I take it out and pound it on the pavement. Once I'm done with my run, I'm done with it. Not only does running boost the brain’s serotonin levels, regular exercise can make you calmer and more stress resistant.
4. Accomplishing goals. There's nothing like setting a goal for yourself and then crushing it. A 5k, half marathon, marathon, weight lost, muscle gain. There's no better feeling than seeing yourself accomplish something you didn't think you could do. I mean, you get bragging rights too!
5. You'll smile more. I have been told by literally everyone that I am the most smiley person they know. It isn't called a runners high for no reason! Running will make you feel good. And when you feel good, your mind and body will follow. You'll smile so much that it might even be contagious!
6. You'll sleep better. If you exercise regularly, you'll get better shut eye. Especially if you have a crazy, hard workout. I do my best to get 6-8 hours of sleep. And it's never broken sleep. It's "knock out and wake up right before my alarm goes off" sleep.
7. Loads of energy. Some think that since I run often, it drains me. Total opposite! My physical activity reenergizes me. I would say it reenergizes me even better than a nap!
8. Happy Heart. Running three of four times a week can help lower blood pressure and cholesterol naturally. Plus, there's no better feeling than getting your heart pumping and body moving!
9. Happy bones. Running is key to building strong and healthy bones and also slows bone loss. And NO. Running won't cause arthiritis. Your body is composed of living tissue that constantly rebuilds themselves. Living tissue grows stronger when it's used. And use is better than abuse.
10. To make a difference. When you're ready, try to race for charity. When the training miles get tough, remember the cause you signed up to run for and how the people you're running for can benefit. I was a St. Jude Hero for a few races through the Run Rock'N' Roll series. Honestly, it had it's tough times when I first had to raise money, but found ways to meet my goal. Always run for a reason.
11. Alpha Abs. A strong core improves postures, strengthens limbs and helps make everyday activities a breeze! Running engages that midsection and strengthens all those important muscles. Plus, who doesn't want a carved core?!
12. Bring the furry friends. I personally do not have my own fur child, but it's definitely on my list! Dogs are a man's best friend for a reason, but can also be man's best workout partner too. Your fur baby will benefit too, as they also need exercise. It'll be a great treat for them!
13. Get a natural glow. Believe it or not, working up a sweat can rid your face of gunk that clogs pores and leads to breakouts. A solid sweat session can also boost natural oils, keeping things fresh and healthy. Just remember to remove makeup pre-workout and wash gently afterward to avoid breakouts.
14. Save some cash. Forget fancy equipment or a pricey gym membership. When it comes to running, all you need is a road!
15. Eat more carbs. This is my favorite reason. Runners, as I know, LOVE to eat. And they can EAT. I mean, who doesn't love a pasta dinner?! During intense training like preparing for a race, increasing carb intake might help running performance and boost mood during harder runs.
There you have it! How I got started, why I got started and why you should start!