How I learned to Run

This post is a bit more personal.  However, we ask our girls every week to challenge themselves by learning new skills and trying new things, so there is no reason why we shouldn’t do so as Guiders.

Where I started

By no ones definition aim I at a healthy weight.  I’ve been battling my weight since I was a teen and I’m in my 40’s now.  So I wasn’t exactly a obvious candidate to take up running as a hobby.  However, my husband is a marathon runner and my daughter runs 5 and 10Ks.  So I often felt a little bit like Baymax when we went out in the world together.


I was attracted to running because as a sport it is largely about setting personal goal and beating them, rather then beating another player or team.

I discovered a blog called The Fat Girls Guide to Running which I found very motivating.  It showed me that I wasn’t the only heavy women who had a desire to run.  And it gave me some tips on listening to my own body so I didn’t overdo it.

I also read The Oatmeal’s  comic on running: The terrible and Wonderful Reasons Why I Run Long Distances (NSFW).  It was motivating in another way.  Not only did it make me laugh but it helped convince me that I didn’t need to vanquish my problems with food before I could run.

How I Started

To learn to run I used the podcasts from the NHS Couch to 5K plan.  There are other Couch to 5k plans available, but this one is a nice choice as the podcasts  include music and a coach named Laura tells you when to walk and when to run as well as providing helpful tips.  There are nine weeks in the plan but it actually took me more like 12 to finish them as there were weeks where I needed two days between runs and other weeks where I repeated runs I had difficulty with.  Despite the name I was running only about 3K at the end of the program because I run slowly.   Couch to 5K programs really should be call 0 to 30 min of running programs.  I still have trouble running a full 5K, so most time I go out now I walk/run.  I normally alternate the songs on my iPod, for one song I’ll run then I’ll walk for one song.  I actually go faster that way then if I run the whole way.

Most days though I still feel a bit like this about going out running.









Until I actually get running that is.  Once I’m running I enjoy it more then I do just walking.  Over the winter we ran at a big domed track.  I found running around and around in circles less fun then running in the park near my home.  Perhaps next winter I’ll try to run outside at least once a week.


Must haves:

  • Technical fabric shirt and shorts (I prefer the type that come to your knees)
  • Sports Bra
  • Well fitted shoes
  • Depending on the weather and the distance hat, water and/or a running jacket

Other nice things:

  • Sports Watch: I use a Garmin Forerunner 15.  It comes with a GPS and heart rate monitor which are useful while running.  It also has a step counter for the rest of the time.
  • Water bottle belt (holds up to four bottles of water and my keys)
  • iPod: I use a Nano because in addition to music I like to listen to the radio or an audio book.  The Nano also has a built in sports function if you forget your sports watch.  The rest of my family prefers Shuffles because they are little and clip on (I have a clip on case for my Nano).
  • arm lights for running at night
  • A smart phone with the right apps can replace both the ipod and the GPS watch although the GPS on a phone is not as accurate.  Some of my friends like to run use apps like the ones from Six to Start to motivate their runs but I’d rather leave the phone at home.


Races are a great motivator.  Knowing when my next race is helps get me out to train.  Here are a few things I’ve learned about picking a good race if you are a slower runner:

  1. Check to see if the race has a max time and only sign up if you are confident you can run faster then that.
  2. If you are running a 5K and the race also has a 1/2 marathon, the organizers will normally be fine with you being a bit slower as they have to wait for the 1/2 marathon to finish anyways.
  3. Check the times from the previous year to get a sense of how fast the race is.  If last years slowest runners were 10 or 15 mins faster then you think you can complete the distance then it might not be the race for you.
  4. If you are running a new distance you can use the McMillan Running Calculator to estimate what your time will be.

Races can cost anywhere from $15 – 100+.  I’ve found that many races don’t carry shirts large enough for me so I can save money but avoiding those races.  I do like getting a completion mental though.  Races also often offer a significant discount for early bird registration so it is wise to plan ahead.

Where am I Now?

I’ve run 3 5K races and one 10K race.  I think I’ll stick to 5K for now.  My personal best time for a 5K is around 50 min.  A series of head colds in March and April threw me off my training program a little but I’ve just signed up for a race in August so have to get a little more serious again.

Global Running Day

GRD_FacebookNext Wednesday, June 1 is Global Running Day  Their goal this year is the Million Kid Run.  “The Million Kid Run is about making fitness fun and inspiring kids to embrace running as a way to get healthy and fit.”  If you are already a runner, why not take this opportunity to share running with the kids in your life, whether that be your family or your Guide unit.  If you aren’t maybe this is a challenge you and your kids want try.


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