We’re taking a quick departure from food today, but sticking with my hope that you will be inspired to live well. As many of you know, I made some big changes over the past year, in both eating and exercise, leading to a significant weight loss and a new-found dedication to exercise. Do I think everyone should start training for a marathon? Of course not! However, I do hope I can convince you to change up your routine a little bit and get your body moving. I am joining up with an amazing group of women (scroll down to find out who’s involved) to challenge you to train alongside us virtually, with the goal of all of us running a 5k in our respective cities on the same day. (Scroll down for the details.)
Don’t think you can do it? Think again! There’s some amazing information here (including a week-by-week training plan, using a walk/run format), written by Cindy BeMent, a running coach certified by the Road Runners Club of America (RRCA), fellow food blogger (Once Upon a Loaf), marathoner and friend, that will help to guide you on this journey. This lady knows what she’s talking about!
So, what’s with the name? Red Faced Runners? We all started chatting on Twitter (as food bloggers are apt to do) about running, and realized that each of us suffers from the same affliction…going bright red when we run. This haphazard meeting has turned into a group of women who support each other’s running efforts and commiserate with each other over hot and windy days, broken toes and sore quad muscles.
When it comes to running, we’re a bit of a motley crew. Some run a couple of times each week, some completed their first 5k races within the last few months, one is training for her first marathon (okay, that’s me) and one is a seasoned marathoner, with more miles under her belt than Forest Gump (yep, that’s Cindy). Whatever the distance and whatever the experience level, we are all in it for the same thing. To feel good about ourselves, to get stronger and to have the knowledge, deep down inside, that we can do anything we set our minds to. That’s a powerful thing.
When we first came up with the idea of kicking off a 5k challenge, one of us spotted some Wonder Woman socks online. Our running was making us feel super-hero powerful and we latched onto the Wonder Woman persona. Feeling in a giddy mood, we all decided to buy a pair of the socks and take a picture of ourselves wearing the socks. Here’s the result:
Red Faced Runners (in random order): Cindy, Once Upon a Loaf; Amy, She Wears Many Hats; Kristen, Dine & Dish; Bridget, Bake at 350; Lori, Recipe Girl; Katrina, In Katrina’s Kitchen; Robyn, Add a Pinch; Carolyn, All Day I Dream About Food; Krista, Budget Gourmet Mom; Shawn, I Wash…You Dry; and me.
How to be a part of the challenge:
Step 1: Buy yourself some good shoes (see Cindy’s tips below) and print out Cindy’s training plan.
Step 2: Choose a 5k in your area on the weekend of September 8th and sign up. Sign up now…don’t wait. Commit to yourself that you can do this!
Step 3: Get out there and start walking and running with us.
Step 4: Keep us updated on your progress. We want to hear how you’re doing, the good and the challenging. I would love to share a couple of your stories in September, so please keep in touch by commenting on my blog or emailing me at cookincanuck(at)comcast(dot)net.
For those of you on Twitter and/or Instagram, we will be using the hashtag #RFR5k to chat about the challenge. Also, we just set up a Red Faced Runners Challenge Facebook page. Please join us there for updates and support.
We can’t wait to do this with you. Go beyond your comfort level..I think you’ll surprise yourself.
Now, let’s move on to Cindy’s ten tips and training plan. There is some REALLY helpful information here, so use this post as a resource on your journey.
Take it away, Cindy!
Yeah, I’ve got a few opinions on this running thing, beyond the miles and the minutes.
Sit down and relax for this one. Below are ten points I just had to share with you before you join us in the world of red-faced running that will hopefully help set you up for roaring success. We’re so happy you’re here! Now, read this:
1. Believe in the run
Running isn’t easy. But that’s why we do it. Trust me on this – you can do this, too, and it does get easier and can be immensely enjoyable, fun and even social.
Getting there from here will challenge you and test your patience at times. You will have doubts and you may want to quit. Often.
Live for the “firsts” right now – your first pair of custom-fit running shoes, your first 30-minute continuous run, your first run with a new running buddy. There will be so many, and (hopefully) you’ll never be here again. It’s a great time to become a runner and watch your body tighten and your mind toughen so fast it will make you giddy, so enjoy the ride!
Commit to getting out there, to pushing yourself a little further than you thought you could go. Your breathing will get easier, your stride will feel more natural, your mind will carry you all the way through the workout, if you just do the work. Consistency is the biggest key in running, so commit to the run (yes, the run/walk counts) — then hang on to your hat when the results start to surface. Very soon, you’ll be double-taking, but yes, that’ll be you in the mirror – you’ll be a runner, and you’ll be unstoppable.
2. Believe in the rest
I just told you to run, push yourself and commit to moving your body and mind repetitively. That said, you must also commit to parking it when you should or when your body is telling you that you’ve overdone it.
Improvement in running actually happens during the rest phase of the training process. Muscles, joints and bones adjust, heal micro-tears caused by exercise and grow stronger, denser and more resilient while you’re doing nada.
If your schedule calls for a rest day but you’re so pumped you’ve lost five pounds you’re thinking that sneaking in one more run will make you that much lighter that much faster, resist. Don’t go there.
There ARE heroics in restraining yourself and letting your body adapt to the new and increasing demands you’re placing on it. If you fear you’ll lose momentum, schedule weights, yoga, core work – even a dedicated stretching session – on your days off from running. It’s all going toward the same goal – making you better, stronger, faster than before (cue $6M Man bionic noise).
Resting when you should or when something hurts (beyond an ache here or a little muscle soreness there) means you’re running easier, farther and longer that much sooner – and doing so will net you more of every benefit running has to offer than pushing it when you shouldn’t. Less is more in this application, so believe in your rest days as invaluable tools in becoming a runner.
3. Respect must rule all.
Next to safeguarding your body, you must safeguard your mind. When you set out on this running journey, make sure that everyone you associate with respects what you are doing, at the bare minimum. In order to do that, you must lead by example via respecting your own efforts (I restate this in many times in this post in varying forms).
If anyone tells you you are getting too skinny and you look sick, you’re crazy to be out running in the middle of the summer, you will never be an Olympian anyway so why bother, and on and on – remove them from your life, or at least from your “entourage,” as I call it, if you can’t entirely. No exceptions.
The next rung up from respect is support. From the get-go, find at least one person who unconditionally supports what you are about to do in training for your 5K. Add him or her to your entourage and build from there. Let your entourage know what they mean to you and why they made it into your circle. But be selective and take your time in adding members.
Some of your entourage is easy to select from the start, others you need to observe and feel out as you go. You’ll know when they’re right. Don’t keep your journey a total secret. It takes a village to run a great 5K, but the size of your village is irrelevant.
4. Your body is your temple
Now’s the time to invest in the “you know you shoulds.” You’ve known forever that you should sleep longer, drink more water, get your doctor’s check-up, finally, and stop hunching over your computer at work. I could go on all day. Shape that all up — right now. Start fresh.
Treat your body like the incredible instrument that it is, with no exceptions. You can’t bash your bod through the long haul that each day brings and still expect it to perform for you out on the roads. Not gonna happen.
Take a day this week to inventory all the things you let slide when it comes to the way you treat your body. I’m not talking eating habits – that’s next. I mean the way you care for your body in its environs – at home, at work – in your car. Are you stuffing your feet into stilettos that about kill you on your walk from the car into your office? Driving with your shoulders in your ears and tense enough to bounce a quarter off of? Wolfing down dinner to get to your nightly housework? It’s time to take stock and make little but very healthy changes that will help your running. You likely can identify many things already – do it now.
5. Your kitchen is your place of worship
If this post were about proper nutrition, it would go on forever. While we’re not going to address the finer points of fueling yourself for a healthier life (you can find plenty of that right here on Cookin’ Canuck), do your homework and construct an eating plan for yourself that gives you a fighting chance. You must address both sides of the equation – the intake as well as the output – if you want to make this running thing stick.
Chances are, you can already name fresh fruits and vegetables, lean protein including chicken and fish and plenty of whole grains plus water as go-to nutrition staples for fueling your body correctly. You know the saying “garbage in, garbage out?” It can’t be more true than in running. So, if you’re giving yourself the incredible gift of becoming a runner, your first step is into the kitchen for a good, hard look around. There’s no reason to even lace up your new running shoes if you’re not going to fuel right, 24/7.
6. Equip yourself
Raise your right hand and repeat after me: I will not buy clearance running shoes from the department store because they are pink and look fast.
First things first: find a local running shop (hereafter affectionately referred to as an LRS) and head in to get your running gait analyzed and your feet fitted for shoes based on how you run. There is no best brand, no single category of running shoe (minimalist, motion control, neutral, for example) that reigns supreme in running shoes. Finding the right shoe is a highly individual and personal process. The shoe almost seems to find you – tell me if you don’t agree, once you go.
LRSs can be a tad intimidating – they’re often staffed by experienced runners who log hundreds and thousands of miles a year and win local races. These are exactly the peoples’ hands you want to put yourself in when you start running.
Simply go in, introduce yourself as a new runner and state your intentions – you’re training for a 5K the second weekend in September – and they will, or at least they should – immediately welcome you to the running family and set about their most helpful and informative ways. If you feel uncomfortable or demeaned in any way, go somewhere else. It’s that simple.
Shoes are the first step – but don’t stop there. A properly fitting running bra, a water bottle, and shorts made of sweat-wicking material that fit you well and make you feel great when outside running public are a must, as are one to three tank tops and two-to-three pairs of sweat-wicking, durable socks. Take your time trying these on, even do a little internet research and ask runners you know for their prefs (or me – I have no shortage on opinions when it comes to running gear).
LRSs are great places for gear advice. It’s what they do. You’ll get familiar with technical fabrics like Climalite® and Dri-FIT and you’ll be happy you did. Running is hard enough on your bod without having to compensate for improper gear. Don’t make me bring up the word “chafe” – or worse. Running-specific clothing is it is built to last, and if you care for it properly, you’ll actually save money in the long run. Case-in-point: just two weeks ago, I finally wore a hole in a pair of running socks I bought 12 years ago. And as a marathoner, you can imagine how much action my socks get.
7. You run. You don’t jog.
Please banish the “J word” from your vocabulary. If you must quantify yourself within running – “Oh, I just jog,” or “I’m not one of those REAL runners,” or even “oh, I can only run ___, I just started,” in my opinion, you’re halfway to quitting already.
Take pride in what you’re doing – as I tell every beginning runner I work with (and many more advanced ones, as well): whether you walk it, run it or crawl it, it’s still a mile. If you run, you are a runner. Period. (Even if you walk/run – you’re still running and you will soon be a full-time runner, so take the title now.)
If you are uncomfortable talking about your running in public when you begin, then it’s fine to keep it to yourself. However, your SELF must know that you are a runner at all times. Own it big. You deserve it.
8. Get after it.
Hopefully, you’ve been busy setting yourself up for success in running by following the above tips. It takes guts and tenacity just to get ready to ‘get after it!’
Now, it’s game time. Bring your best, every single workout.You will quickly come to trust yourself to get through that next tough workout, to listen to your body and to make wise training and self-care choices if you start building your mental toughness from the beginning. It’s not rocket science, but it’s also not easy. Practice, however, does make perfect.
I tell every single runner I coach something I truly believe (and haven’t been proven wrong on yet): you can achieve so much more than you think you can. The key: you must believe. Even dream. Might as well – you’re out here on the road, anyway – let’s see what you’ve got!
Show yourself you’re determined as often as you can. Be tough on yourself – but don’t demand perfection. Demand progress in some area on every run, and demand consistency from yourself all day, every day.
You won’t always hit it every day, but if you strive to, you’ll get there more days than you don’t, and you’ll hit your pillow each night plenty satisfied with yourself as a runner.
9. Spread the love.
When people see the changes you’ve made in your life and how positively running has impacted you as a person, you’re going to get some groupies, mark my words.
Let them worship you – you’ve got guts and you’re doing something pretty darned special. They want what you have.
There’s always a new runner coming up behind you so throw your hand out and help them aboard. Again, there’s no qualification for being a role model in running. It’s not your pace, the number of miles or the races you’ve run – it’s the effort and the transformation they admire. They want to get into the exclusive club that you’ve busted your tail to join – can you blame them?
Get comfortable with being inspiring and mentor a new(er) runner. You’re already qualified. This is one of those amazing and unexpected properties of running that make it so awesome – bonds formed with others that are near-impossible to break. Just wait and see; it WILL happen to you.
10. Have the time of your life!
OK, do I really need to say it?
YOU’RE GONNA ROCK. Enjoy this time of your life, and though you might be plenty chicken, force yourself to be as fearless and celebratory as you can possibly manage in your running. Party over every single tiny victory that advances you along this road and builds that honey badger that is you, the runner. Share it shamelessly with your friends and family and dismiss any haters. I can’t be more serious.
I also can’t be more serious in saying I can’t WAIT to celebrate with you!
Now, go get it! Let’s do this.
The Training Plan:
This training plan is designed to get you from frozen-in-fear to 5K in a little over two months’ time. It’s about building a runner from the ground up. You see, my ulterior motive is to help you become a runner for life. “Why on earth would I do that?” you wonder. Just wait. You’ll see.
The following schedule is built on three workouts a week, the minimum number I believe to be beneficial for becoming a runner and for preparing your body safely to run 3.1 miles. Listen to your body at all times, don’t sneak in extra workouts or try to run multiple days on end. We’re getting after it and pushing ourselves, but we’re training smart, too.
To note: each workout should be preceded by a five-minute walking warm-up and ended with walking five minutes for cool down.
Thank you, Cindy, for this treasure trove of information and inspiration. Now, GO RUN 5K!