Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Runner Mom Profile #1: Kelly

This is the first in a series of profiles on moms who run.  These are regular women who have taken that first step toward running and fitness...then a second step and a third and a fourth...and so on.
To read about Kelly's running journey in her own words, check out her blog post here.

I met Kelly in October of 2009.  We had just moved to town and my son was finishing his first week at the new school. Kelly came up to me as we dropped off our kindergarteners and asked, "are you new?"  In almost the same breath she added, "are you a runner?"  We instantly hit it off.

She had started running the previous June. A comment she made to me after her marathon this past November really struck me:  the first two mile run she ran on that June day was harder than the last two miles of the marathon.  She was overweight and determined to do something about it.  Her determination is one of the features that everyone loves about Kelly. That determination had lost her forty pounds in just a few months.

Kelly is one busy lady. She has four children--that is enough to keep anyone busy. She is also very active in her church and volunteers at the school on a regular basis. She has more energy than anyone I have met. I often wonder how she does it all.

When I first ran with Kelly, we went to the creek that has become my favorite place to run. We had a wonderful run on the trails. Before that, the longest run Kelly had done was six miles. We were right around six miles when we got back to our cars. The guys had parked a few miles away at the high school.  Rod asked if I wanted to keep running a while and he would bring me back to my car.  I asked Kelly if she wanted to come along.  "Why not?" she replied. I believe on that day, Kelly realized that she could push herself.  She ran over eight miles and felt great. She started running longer and more often. She was officially hooked.

In November, her husband became seriously ill. He was in the hospital for months.  Her life consisted of taking care of her kids and being at the hospital with her husband. There wasn't time for anything else. She still managed to find time for a run or two a week. Her runs became her escape; her time to talk to her friends and not think about the struggles of her daily life.

In the late winter, her husband came home and was making a fantastic recovery.  She was able to go out and run in the mornings again.  She upped her mileage and intensity.  By June, she was ready to tackle her first half marathon.

We ran the Fontana Half Marathon on June 5.  This happened to be one year, to the day, since Kelly ran those first two miles. On her runniversary she ran an outstanding half marathon, finishing in 2:05!! I was so proud of her. She was already talking about running another one.
Over the summer, Kelly continued to run with me as I trained for a marathon in October.  She did all the long runs that I did.  I told her that if she was going to do these long runs, she should probably just run a marathon.  It took her a while to commit to it.  She finally decided to run the Santa Barbara Marathon.

My marathon came and went and it was a big disappointment to me. I was bummed about it and all my friends felt bad for me. Kelly called me right away and told me that she wanted to pay for another marathon entry for me so I would have another shot to qualify for Boston. I didn't want to try again so soon, but I did think that a positive marathon experience would be a good thing for me. I told Kelly that if she wanted to sponsor me for a marathon, it would only be as a pacer for her. We were both excited to share the experience of her first marathon together.

Her first marathon ended up being a very positive experience for me. I enjoyed every minute of it and was SO proud of Kelly. We kept it easy at the beginning and she picked it up at the end.  Her fastest miles were her last miles. She finished very, very strong. Her time of 4:29 was 25 minutes faster than my first marathon! She totally rocked it and I was honored to be there.

Since her marathon, Kelly has continued to run.  Many times, after a first marathon, runners take a couple of weeks off to rest and recover (I did).  Not Kelly.  She didn't miss a beat.  She was back into her running routine almost immediately after the marathon.  In fact, a couple weeks after the race, she ran a 53 minute 10K!

Kelly continues to push herself.  She recently ran her second half marathon.  She took EIGHT MINUTES off her previous time!  Her 1:57 half marathon time was her first under two hours, but I'm sure they all will be under two from now on.  She ran that race with a smile!
Kelly inspires others now with her healthy lifestyle.  She and her husband are now training for a trip to Machu Picchu in the spring. Her life is so much more active than it was when she was 50 pounds overweight.  Our running group grows all the time.  People see how healthy Kelly is now and they want to do what she has done.  

Seeing what I have seen over the past year or so, I know that there is nothing that Kelly can't do.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

So you want to start running?

Congratulations on your decision to start running and to get fit. Whether you have trouble running out to your mailbox or you have run a few miles before, getting started is half the battle. From here, take it one step at a time.  Here are a few suggestions if you want to make running a long-term habit and part of your lifestyle:

1) Get a good pair of shoes.  The old sneakers you have in your closet probably aren't the best choice of footwear.  Shoes are an important tool in staying injury free.  After about six months to a year, they do not offer as much support as they once did.   Once you start running even more, shoes need to be replaced more often.*  I always suggest going to a specialty running store for the first-time runner.  I know that they tend to be a bit more expensive, but it will be worth it in the long run.  Go to a store that can evaluate your gait to determine what kind of shoe you need.  Often they have you try on several pair of shoes, run on the treadmill and find the one the feels best.  I like Roadrunner Sports, but there are plenty of other stores out there. They evaluate your running and even have a 60 day guarantee.  You can run on shoes for two months and if they don't work on your feet, they'll return them.  It's easy.  I've done it.  Once you know exactly what kind of shoe you run well on, then you can search the internet for the best deals (although, most of the better shoes are around the same price wherever you go).

2) Find a running partner (s).  Running offers some great solitude and alone time.  However, sometimes you need that extra motivation to get out on the road (especially if it is cold, dark or rainy).  Running with friends is a wonderful way to catch up, get to know people better and to make the time go faster.  In my pre-running life, I would chat with my friends over coffee. Now, we do most of our talking on our runs.  On those days when you really don't feel like getting out of bed early to go for your run, knowing that someone is meeting you gives you that extra push you need.  I have rarely regretted going out for a run, but often regret when I don't.

3)  Sign up for an event.  There are few things more motivating than a deadline. if you know you have a 5K in 10 weeks, then you will be more likely to go out and do your runs.   Don't just talk about running a 5 or 10K, actually sign up for it. It is much easier to make excuses about not running it if you haven't paid money to do it.  A training plan is key. There are a lot of great training plans on the internet on sites like Active.com. You need to find one that increases your mileage gradually and allows ample recovery time, in order to avoid injury.**

4) Start gradually.  You don't need to run miles and miles when you first start out.  In fact, it is better to gradually build your mileage.  If you want to run a marathon, give yourself plenty of time to get there. Marathon training plans are usually at least six months long if you are not already running long distances.  If you run too far too soon, you increase your risk of injury.  The goal here is to stay injury free in order to make this a long-term deal.

5) Take it slow.  Remember that it is ok to walk.  If you are truly just starting out, you should even build regular walking intervals into your workout.  Taking walk breaks allows you to recover for a bit, allowing you to go even further.  So many people think that they need to run fast.  In fact, going too fast is counter-productive.  If you cannot carry on a conversation while running, you are going too fast.  There is a time and place for running at your max (races, for example).  For now, keep it slow and easy.  You'll enjoy it more.  If you feel the need for speed, designate one or two days a week for intervals or a faster-paced run.  These workouts, however, are best after you have run for a while.

6) Find interesting places to run.   While running around your neighborhood is good for most runs, occasionally treat yourself with a run around a lake, river or something with a great view.  Adding trails to your running routine is not only good for your mental state, it is good to give your feet a break from the pounding of concrete and asphalt.   Once I discovered trail running, I realized that places that I love to hike are even better while running. You'd be surprised how certain routes get old fast.  While training for my first marathon, my friends and I ran around a nice lake.  At first, I was so happy we had such a great place to run.  By the time the marathon arrived, I never wanted to see that lake path again.   Keep your runs fresh and mix it up so they don't get old.

7) Fuel and Hydrate.  Don't forget to eat and drink before your run. I like a vitamin-energy drink called Zip Fizz and a Luna Bar.  Some people have a cup of coffee and an English muffin. You need to find out what works for you. You don't want to eat too close to run time, in case it causes you tummy issues.  It is important, especially as your runs get longer, to eat/drink something. Once your run is longer than about an hour or in hot weather, you need to think about bringing water with you or running where water is available (i.e. parks). Be sure to replenish after you run.

Friends of mine tell me that they would never run unless someone was chasing them. I too, used to hate running. However, if you approach it positively and run smart, you are more likely to enjoy it. Before you know it, you might surprise yourself and be one of those people who gets grumpy when you miss your run.  If you don't love it right away, that's OK too. Running is hard.  But there are so many good things about it.  Have fun finding those good things for yourself.

Happy Running...

*I replace my shoes every 300 miles or so, which is about every three months.
**Email me at runnermommylisa@gmail.com for a quote for a training plan.