Crossing the Finish Line

I've told myself, and others, I'm simply not a runner for as long as I can remember.

I proved myself wrong this past weekend by crossing the finish line at my very first 5k!  Now, for many Vibrant readers, a 5k is probably not a big deal.  Personally, it was huge, as I haven't ran anything more than 30 second intervals on the treadmill in…well, forever.  My S.M.A.R.T. goal was well exceeded, and I finished so much faster than I thought (23 minutes, 37 seconds) possible.  It's time to heed fellow Vibrant blogger Jeanne Ricks' advice to add the E. and R. to my next running goal – evaluate, and re-evaluate!

Below are some tips and tricks that helped me reach my goal.

Break the rules. 

I did due diligence and read quite a few online guides for newbie runners.  Many recommended a protocol of walking 5 minutes, then running five minutes, warning that running too much too soon would lead to burn out.  Logic told me this method wasn't for me.  If you want to get better at something, your best strategy is to DO IT.  Want to improve your deadlift?  Do some deadlifts.  Dreaming of being able to perform 10 pull-ups in a row?  Well get to the pull-up bar and start with one (maybe with some assistance, to start).  Races aren't won by walking.  I went a half mile beyond the required distance on every one of my runs, starting with weekly treadmill sessions, then progressing to twice-weekly outdoor runs about two weeks out from the race.  

Don't believe the hype.

Everyone will tell you to visit a running store so that an expert can assess your gait on a treadmill and recommend the proper footwear.  I followed this advice in 2008, when I thought I might join a marathoner friend for runs along the East River.  It sounded great in theory, until I ended up with blisters all over my feet from "expert" recommended shoes.  And back to the weight room I went!  After taking a pair of minimalist sole sneakers for a run, I realized my knees and hips needed a bit more shock absorption.  A lightweight, midsole shoe made my runs a lot more pleasant – and I purchased them online at a great price!

Take advantage of freebies.

An accomplished marathoner (who happens to be my aunt) suggested the Strava app.  It tracks your time, distance, and route, and analyzes your pace.  Additionally, there's an option to share your activities via social media, and even find running buddies!  Cycling activities can also be logged in your Strava profile.  Having concrete numbers in front of me inspired me to keep up my pace every time I ran.

Work those glutes.

Most of my workouts are very glute-centric.  The buttocks (gluteus maximus) are the biggest muscles in the body, and they can make or break a run.  The quandary is, if you're always working on your lower body, when do you have "fresh legs" for a run?  Well, you don't.  I continued with my regular training protocol up until this past week, swapping one workout for a run, and performing glute exercises with bands only two days before the race.  

Work out the kinks.

If there's a nagging knot, ache, or pain that's distracting you during physical activity, work it out.  My right hip had been bothering me for MONTHS, and my left knee was starting to ache with compensation.  I took a chance on a massage therapist who specializes in deep tissue therapy.  The gamble paid off and then some!  My hip pain was markedly minimized, and I magically felt taller.  Listen to your body and prioritize self care, whether you're training for a new physical endeavor or not!

Stay active, and #StayVibrant!