Tuesday, April 17, 2012

How I Got Started Running

In January 2010 I made the commitment to getting in shape.  I was 25 years old and only 2 years into my professional career.  I was busy, just like everybody else, working a 40 hour schedule and taking two graduate school courses with 10-15 hours of school work and class a week.  I enjoyed typical fast food drive thru visits to Burger King, McDonalds, or Taco Bell.  I wasn't doing myself any favors, and my life was getting shorter one day at a time, maybe more.
I decided to make a change for a few simple reasons:

  • I wanted to build confidence
  • I wanted to be more physically fit
  • I wanted to improve myself
  • I was tired of being unhealthy
It's selfish to live an unhealthy lifestyle.  Trust me, your friends and family don't want to see you die of a heart attack when you are in your 40's.
In 2009 I weighed around 225 lbs.

Getting Started
I started by doing what my friend Rob did.  I walked a little bit, and then jogged a little bit.  I did that two or three times a week around my class schedule and I did absolutely nothing to change my diet.  I just focused first on being more active, diet can come later.  It was winter in Ohio, so I walked and ran on a treadmill, which was good since it allowed easy control of my pace.  It was NOT EASY at first, but the determination I had to get back in the game drove me.  I remember a few of my first workouts went like this:
Walk 0.5 miles, run 0.5 miles, keep alternating. 4 miles total.
After I started getting better at that, I began to run more and walk less.
Walk 0.5 miles, run 1 mile, walk 0.25 miles, run 1 mile, walk 0.25 miles, run 1 mile.  4 miles total.
Then once I started getting batter at that, I could begin to run without walking:
Run 4 miles. 
Run 5 miles. 
Run 6 miles without stopping by middle of March, 2+ months into training.
This progression did not happen overnight, this took weeks of sweaty shirt drenching progress.  By early March, my old body had begun to melt away, I saw the ‘1’ digit on the scale for the first time as I dropped below 200lbs.  I must tell you that carrying around 25 less pounds felt so great, it made me want to do more.
I eventually took the running outside when the weather got nice.  Running on the road and trails is different than the treadmill, and I’d say it’s harder, but in a good way.  I think it has to do with the body being more naturally suited to moving on the ground, but I don’t know for sure.

Sept 2009-225 lbs.
Lucky to run a sub 8 minute mile.

I ran my first race with my new girlfriend, now fiance, in June.  It was a 5k, and I finished at 23:30.  That was pretty exciting for me.  We began running and training together all summer.  We did a few more races that fall, 5k, 4 miler, 5 miler, 10k.  In the following winter, we decided to train for a half marathon in May, and a duathlon (2 mile run, 10 mile bike, 2 mile run) in June.  The training meant my fiance and I were now spending 4-5 days per week in the gym or running outdoors instead of the 2-3 days when I first began running.  We enjoyed the increased time commitment because running was no longer as challenging as it was when I began.  It was fun running at the gym, and talking to and socializing with other runners there.

After completing the half marathon  (1:37:30), we decided a marathon was in our future. As with most

March 2012-180 lbs
Can run a sub 6 minute mile,
or 20+ of them sub 8 minutes.

new marathoners, the goal of my first marathon, the 2011 Akron Marathon, was to simply finish. We put in 11 weeks of training, a total of 300 miles.  This training was heavily focused on moderate pacing, and controlling our heart rates, especially on the weekly long runs.  We scouted the course on 3-4 of our long runs including running 20 miles of the course 3 weeks before the race on a Saturday morning.  When race day came, after tapering we were both totally excited about the run.  We both couldn't sleep as we were only dreaming about the run.  The weather was perfect, and the crowd support was awesome.  We were very happy to finish together with a time of 3:56:57, 3 minutes under our goal of finishing under 4 hours.
After finishing a marathon, it is hard to tell yourself that you will not do it again.  You begin to enjoy the structure that the training brings to your life and if you are like me you also enjoy the sheer amount of food you get to eat while you continue to lose weight. 
We registered for the 2012 Surf City Marathon.  With one marathon under my belt, this was my first real chance to open up and see what I had in me.   We trained for 15 weeks, a total of 500 miles.  I also began to eat less junk food, and less red meat.  I still enjoy a big burger every now and then, but I now try to eat more fruits, vegetables and grains.
I finished Surf City in 3:27:01, an improvement of nearly 30 minutes over the Akron Marathon less than 5 months earlier.  It felt good to finish in under an 8 minute pace, although I definitely started feeling it after mile 20 as expected when my pace slipped into the upper 8 minute range.  I still held on and finished without walking.

By this time I had dropped to 180 pounds on the scale, an astonishing loss of 45 pounds over a two year period.
Currently we are training for the 2012 Missoula Marathon in June.  The plan calls for 17 weeks of training totalling 630 miles.  We are 6 weeks into the plan and it is going great so far.
The Blog
My fiance and I started this blog to be a resource to beginning runners so we can share what we have learned over the past few years as we have started running. 
Hopefully you'll get some good tips and ideas that will improve your running skill and enjoyment, and help you meet your personal commitments of getting in shape, being healthy, and living an active lifestyle.

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