Thursday, May 21, 2009

Beginning Running

Recently I had a comment from a reader asking me to blog about beginning running. Some of my real life friends also asked me to do the same thing......

Let me begin by saying that I am NOT an expert! I am not even an athlete! I did not play any sport in high school; I was not even a high school cheerleader! However, I have pretty much always exercised. My past exercise experience includes walking, a variety of aerobic classes, weightlifting, the stair stepping machine, and playing tennis. I ran for a short time before I was pregnant with Leah, but I did not begin running as a regular form of exercise until a little over two years ago.

My reasons for starting to run were not really that spectacular, and they did not include getting in shape or weight loss (although I did hope for those benefits!). The two main reasons I began to run were 1. Jimmy and the children had been running for a year, and I felt left out. 2. I felt guilty! I was taking my children to the track to run, or instructing them to run on the treadmill, but I was just a spectator! Of course I had a few excuses....mainly that I had a one year old and and three year old. I mentioned to Jimmy that I would like to start running, and he promptly bought me a double jogging stroller!

I did not take the time to educate myself about how to begin running. I just took off, trying to keep up with Jimmy and the children. Big mistake! I battled knee pain from the beginning, and I think I just did too much too soon. But after taking 6 weeks off last spring to let my knee heal, I spent time reading about beginning running. When I restarted, I used a method advocated by Jeff Galloway--the run/walk method. This allowed me to rebuild my strength slowly. I followed his plan, and 5 1/2 months after starting back, I ran my first half-marathon (13.1 miles)!

Running/walking is such a convenient sport. It is a lifelong sport, and it can be enjoyed by the whole family. The advice I am listing is primarily for women---mothers in particular. Young women can progress faster, and if you are beginning to run with your children, you will find that they progress faster than you too. Youth is on their side! Remember, I am NOT an expert! This is just friend-to-friend advice!

1. Educate your self about beginning running. I recommend reading books or reading online articles about running. Some key authors are Jeff Galloway and Hal Higdon. You can also google beginning running, beginner 5K training plans, beginner running training, etc.

2. Walk first! If you are not walking for 30 minutes a day, 4-5 times a week, begin there. Most of the beginning running programs will advise this. Walk briskly! This is not the time to chat on your cell phone!

3. Wear decent shoes---keds or fashion shoes don't count. As soon as you commit to sticking with running/walking, you need to invest in a good pair of running shoes. Most of my friends' husbands have rewarded them with real running shoes after they have ran/walked for 2 months or so. My husband bought me my first pair of running shoes after 6 weeks of running. The quality running shoes DO make a difference. Be prepared to spend around $100 for a good pair of running shoes. Locate a small outdoor/running type store to purchase your first pair of running shoes. The salespeople at these type of stores really know their products and can fit you correctly. Be prepared to walk/jog on a treadmill or around the store for them. They need to watch you so they can properly fit you.

4. Run slowly! After you have walked for a few weeks, and you are ready to insert a few jogs into your workout, run slowly! I cannot stress this enough. You should be able to talk while running. It is not a race! You can prevent injury by walking to warm up and running slowly. The speed will come over time!

5. After you have completed a couple of weeks of a program like this: walk 10 minutes; run 2 minutes/walk 2 minutes, I would extend my total time running/walking before I would try to run for longer stretches.

6. Don't give up! Commit to running/walking 4 days a week. I don't like to run 3 days in a row; I usually run Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday or Saturday. I like to run 5 days a week in the summer when I have more time, but I have been able to maintain my fitness level with just 4 days a week.

7. Expect aches, pains, and general muscle soreness. Every one of my friends have experienced knee pain. Use your judgement, but do not be alarmed if you ache! Rest usually cures most aches and pains, so you need to run/walk every other day at first. I have taken Motrin 4-5 nights a week for over 2 years because of general aching in my legs at night! Of course if you have a serious injury, please get it checked out. You can search online for general advice about running aches, pains, and injuries.

8. A few links to get you started:

If you are just beginning to run, please leave me a comment from time to time with your progress. I want to encourage you! If you stick with running/walking, you will feel great! Running is a super stress reliever!

Happy running!


  1. Roan,

    I just wanted to thank you for all the "real life" encouragement you've given me. It's truly made all the difference.

    I will be doing my first 'long run' this weekend (4 or 4.5 miles) using Galloway's method, which I LOVE.

    I'm thankful for you! Have a great day.

  2. One thing I have learned is to take Calcium daily to help with leg soreness. It will also help with the cramping. I do this on a mostly daily basis and I can tell the difference if I miss a day. So calcium is good for your overall health and also your legs

  3. I also take glucosamine and keep lots of advil handy! I like the way you distinguished between athletes and cheerleaders!!! :)LOL! See you Wednesday AM!

  4. Sorry to keep commenting... one thing that has gotten me into trouble more often than not is not following the 10% rule... Even if you are feeling good and strong, don't increase by more than 10% each week... knee injuries and shin splints are almost guaranteed!

  5. Thanks for the pointers.

    It IS kind of discouraging to see how quickly the kids can improve compared to adults! :)

    Corey and I tried to jog with the kids a while back, and soon gave up. Maybe we need to start with the fast walking 4 or 5 times a week.

    My kids are enjoying running together, and are planning to run a 5K togther next Saturday. It will be Christian's 1st, and Caylie's 2nd.

  6. Roan,

    I also want to say thanks for the encouragement and advice that I have received from you the past few weeks. I will be trying to do the long run with Em this weekend. We will see!

  7. This is a great post Roan!! Thank you for taking the time to put it together.

    I don't know if running is for me, but I know how I like the "feel" of a little jog while I'm walking!!

    Have a blessed day!!

  8. Roan,
    You have been such an encouragement and blessing to me. I reside in the Northeast and found your blog by typing in Joy in homeschooling. You have encouraged me to "step up" my fast walking to running. I started at the end of March and can run 3miles consistently. My best time so far for this on the road (some hills) is 24:39. I am now working on adding distance instead of focusing on time. Thank you for your balanced approach to all this and motherhood, homeschooling and serving the Lord.
    God bless,

  9. Roan, thank you so much for your advice! I really appreciate you posting this.


  10. I'm back to running again! I trained and ran a 5K about 6 years ago before my kids were born. Then I took a few years off! LOL! I'm now training for a triathlon relay with some friends and I'm the running "leg"! I'm SO excited and really psyched about getting started and committed again. I love your post--everything is well said. I too read alot and really learned how to run properly---that is the key to enjoying it so much! THanks!

  11. Thanks for helping me find this post. It is so encouraging to find someone who hasn't been running "forever". Since I've mainly been doing step aerobics and weight lifting for the past few months, I will add in some brisk walking. It is different and, I believe, will help when I begin to run after having my baby.

    I plan to run with my oldest son, who is eleven. I will check out your other posts on running as time allows (I am supposed to be doing phonics with my seven year old!) but if there are any tips on helping a child run without injury or pain, I'd love to hear them. Any books, etc. that you'd recommend for children's running?

    Thanks for putting up with all of my questions and being so helpful. I can't tell you how much I appreciate it.