“One morning I got up and just started running. I didn’t stop I just kept running. And when I got there, I figured, since I’d gone this far, I might as well turn around just keep going.” Oh wait! That’s a scene from Forrest Gump.
Here is the honest brutal truth, I have never been a runner. Not in my entire life. I have been a swimmer since I was 6. Life after my empty nest is all about trying new things and exploring life out there.
My First 5K. That first distance run was a real eye opener. I had always thought of myself as being in decent shape. I swim. I do yoga. I walk a lot. Running was a whole different kettle of fish. I hadn’t even trained for my first 5K, it was a last-minute decision to join some friends. Thank goodness it also had obstacles which gave me a chance to catch my breath as I waited my turn. The best part was that I was doing it with friends and for fun. I’d never done a 5K, so any time was a “personal best”.
Setting a Goal. I made running an entire 5K without obstacles a goal. I spoke with my friend and personal trainer, Cheryl Guthrie, for some pointers. I plotted out routes from work and routes from home. I added an app (iRunner) to my phone. I made a playlist for motivation. I ran.
How Did I Run? I started out just walking the entire 3.2 miles. I did that 3 days a week. Then I ran 1/4 of the 5k and walked fast on the rest. When that felt good, I ran 1/2 of the 5K. When that felt good, I ran the entire 5K at a slow pace. When that felt good, I increased my pace. I was ready.
There are so many people willing and able to tell you how to train. I trained using an alternating training method. When I haven’t been able to run regularly, I still alternate between run/walk until I can run the entire 5K.
Buy Good Running Shoes. When I first started this trek, I just used regular exercise shoes. Not a good idea. I got shin splints when I finally added running. Why? Duh, I was using the wrong shoes for running. I posted the question to my Facebook friends who run asking what running shoes they used. The overall feedback was ASICS or Brooks.
I decided to go with Brooks Runnning Shoes. When I arrived at the store the sales person asked me what I was looking for in a shoe. I wanted good running shoes for running outside on pavement for a 5K to maybe a 10K distance. They had me walk away from and towards the sales person. They were watching my gait. Knowing that I wasn’t going for a marathon they fitted me with my first pair of running specific shoes.
That first run after getting them was a dream! I flew down the road. Ok, maybe I didn’t fly down the road, but I was faster. My recovery was better too. I am now a firm believer in getting the right shoes for you.
I went on to run several 5K’s. I really enjoyed running races with friends. I am blessed to have a great running tribe. We run races together and sometimes train together. We even walk a race when a teammate can’t run. It’s super fun! There are times when we don’t stick together on a race and we are totally cool with that as well. We know that at the end of the race, the others will be there cheering us on. We all don’t have the same pace, but the tribe is there to encourage and inspire each other.
Trying to do a 10K. I will firmly admit that I have tried to get ready to do a 10K. I trained adding distance in 1/2 mile increments and then increasing my pace. Then adding another 1/2 mile. I was up to 5 miles at a 9:50/mile when tragedy struck.
I had noticed at the increased distance I was getting a rubbing on the front of my arch. I made the mistake of listening to a novice who told me to add an arch support insert to my running shoes. I went for a run. Just over half way, my left knee really started hurting. I stopped running and removed the insert. Then I ran some more and the other knee started hurting. I stopped and removed the other insert and walked the rest of the way back.
By the time I had cooled down, my left knee was swollen inside and below my knee cap. The swelling only went down a little and the pain was still there after a week, I went to see a physician. He told me I had Pes Anserine Bursitis. Ice, ibuprofen, stretches and no running until I was healed. Insert sad face emoticon.
Full Body Video Gait Analysis. Can I just remind you that I am a science nerd? When recovering from my injury, I spoke with a long distance runner who suggested I have a gait analysis done. If you decide running is something you want to do, I highly recommend it. I am not talking about a simple gait analysis that is done at a running store to find the right shoes. I am talking about a full-body video gait analysis.
As with anything else having to do with your body, I recommend finding someone who knows what they are doing. Do your research. I checked with my local physical therapy companies to find someone who did a video gait analysis. I was lucky to find a local physical therapist who does a full-body video gait analysis that is also a long distance runner. I worked with Tony Johns, PT at Northsound Physical Therapy.
I arrived in running shoes and clothing. Before ever hitting the treadmill, he did a thorough review for my strength and weaknesses in my legs, feet and hips. Yoga and swimming have really helped in my flexibility and strength in most areas, but he noted that my ankles were my weak area. I now have exercises to help strengthen them.
After analyzing me, I was lead to a treadmill and asked to run at my normal running pace. I was video taped front and side views. We then looked at the results. He noted my steps per minute, good. He noted where my foot lands, perfect. He went through a full body mechanics on how I run. Hips, shoulders, knees, feet, arms. Front, back, side. How they all move when I run.
While running store may try to do a video or simply watch you walk, that won’t tell you the whole story. Since I had an injury I wanted to know how to prevent this or at least decrease the chance of it happening again. I came away with some exercises, stretches and a new view of my 50-year-old body.
In the End
I have decided that I fit into the category of recreational runner. It’s not that I have a love/hate relationship with running, but it is outside of my normal comfort zone. I know that my body enjoys a good 5K and maybe not much more. I am totally ok with that. I don’t need to do a 10K, a half or a full marathon to make friends. I have plenty of friends who run those. I have friends that don’t run at all. I am cool with them, they are cool with me. That’s the kind of tribe you need. Respectful, encouraging and supportive.
I am a fair-weather runner. Because I don’t NEED to run fast or far, I am also totally comfortable just running in fair-weather. That’s not to say I haven’t done a race in the rain, I do live in Seattle after-all. I’ve decided that I enjoy running for me. Like everything else in my life, I’ve added it to my “things I do” list. I love a good run in 60 degrees and sunshine with just myself and my playlist. It’s very relaxing just turning off my brain and running. It’s therapeutic. I don’t need to talk while I run. Some people are social runners, I can do that too but I prefer solo time.
I Love Fun Runs! What are those? Those are runs that I can do with friends where we put on costumes or matching outfits to a theme. I do the 5K. They may join me or do the 10K or half versions. I think I will continue to run for me when I want and do fun runs with friends. That’s my running journey. It still continues!
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me. I’d also love your comments!
See you next week peeps! Check out my Facebook and Instagram as well!