Sunday, May 24, 2009

If you need an excuse to start running ...

Since I started running last September, I've inspired/influenced a few others to do the same.

Among them: My wife -- who previously had walked for exercise, has walk-run five 5Ks, and now can just about go three miles without stopping; a friend -- who completed his first 10K (the Cooper River Bridge Run) in April; that friend's girlfriend -- who has done a 10K and a 5K in the past month and a half; and Observer staffer Sarah Aarthun (two 10Ks, two 5Ks since February).

But there are certainly people in my life who haven't succumbed to the peer pressure I've applied ... in large part because there are a million excuses that someone can use if they don't want to run.

"No time" is a common one -- although all it requires is ditching 30 minutes of TV and/or Facebooking every other day. "Too boring" is another -- although getting off the treadmill, out of the gym, and onto a variety of urban or suburban streets and roads can cure that. "Too hot"? That's what early mornings and evenings are for, and why things like water and technical fibers exist.

I could go on and on with this type of list. I mean, I used plenty of these excuses myself for 15 years.

Thing is, it's so easy to start running. All you need is a pair of comfortable sneakers and, well, frankly, an excuse. A desire to be more healthy, or more active, or more competitive, or more goal-driven, or tanned, or more -- whatever.

Need a more-formal kick in the butt? There's always National Running Day. The new initiative, scheduled for Wednesday, June 3, joins National Run@Work Day and National Run a Mile Day as ways to promote the joys and benefits of running.

National Running Day isn't going to change the world. But I bring it up for two reasons: 1) The site has some helpful tips for novice runners, and -- while they're not terribly original -- a couple are valuable enough that I wanted to share them (below), and 2) I'd like to invite anyone who's game to participate in a 3-mile group run (pace: easy), starting and ending at the Observer building uptown in the late afternoon or early evening of June 3. (Details to come, but if you're interested, shoot me an e-mail by clicking here.)

Here are those beginners' tips:

It’s okay to walk. Begin your first workouts with 15 minutes of alternating walking and jogging: Walk for five minutes, then run easily for two or three minutes; repeat. If you are comfortable jogging from the start, that's fine, but do not run the entire time even if you think you can. Don't worry about the distance you cover. On your third or fourth workout, try increasing your time to 20 minutes. After three or four more workouts, move to 25 minutes, then after another three or four workouts, try a 30-minute continuous run. Don't force yourself to go farther or faster than what feels comfortable to you. The idea is to keep running regularly, and you're more likely to do that if you’re enjoying yourself and looking forward to your next run.

Aim for a race. Pick an event that's at least six weeks in the future. An ideal distance for your first race would be 5K (3.1 miles) or four miles. This is short enough so that you can truly be ready for your first effort, and long enough to give you the sense of accomplishment that will fuel your future running. Your goal should be to finish, enjoy the event, and look ahead. Start at the back of the pack, hold yourself back at the start, and run within your comfort range. If your time was slow, that's good -- now you have a base from which to improve.
Want to read the full list? Click here.

So ... what's your excuse for running? Or for not running?


Jen said...

My excuse to run is the summer trifecta-- swimsuit season, bridesmaid in a wedding, and a vacation. Good motivation to get off the couch!