Sunday, February 6, 2011

Making a Run for It

Note: As I'm writing this post, I'm drinking our most recent batch of homebrew. A spiced winter ale :)

As I hinted a few posts back, I've started training for my fifth half marathon. (My fourth St. Louis half marathon!) While I enjoy running, part of me registers for races as an extra boost to get my butt off the couch. Winter is pretty ugly in Chicago and it's easy to be lazy and sit inside. Plus, this is the busiest time of year for me at work. I tend to forget about taking care of myself (exercise, eating, sleeping, etc) if I don't have something to work towards. Since I know some of my coworkers and friends have the same tendencies, I thought I would share a few tips on running and staying fit during the winter months.

Set a goal to stay motivated
You don't have to do something beyond your capabilities like running a half marathon or marathon. Maybe a 5K (3.1 miles) is more within your means. To stay extra motivated, find an accountability buddy to train and run the race together. Nobody willing to train with you? Join a running group in your city. Tell your friends and family about the race and invite them to cheer for you on race day.

Find your perfect training plan
There are several excellent websites with free training plans. If you've never run a 5K, I recommend the Couch to 5K plan. You'll start off by walking with a little jogging and build up to running 3 miles. Hal Higdon also has a wide variety of training plans. From the 5K all the way up to an ultramarathon (50+ miles). Jeff Galloway, the brains behind the run-walking, low mileage training program also has several options.

Keep track of your progress

Part of my RW training log

No need to get a fancy GPS-enabled watch to track your mileage. All you need is a basic sport watch that can track your time. And then use a website such as to map your run (duh). Once you have your mileage and time, write it down somewhere. A notebook, an Excel spreadsheet, or something like Runner's World's online training log (what I use). It's very encouraging to see how far you've run. And I love analyzing my stats. 728.4 miles for all of 2010! And I just learned that I can export my stats to Excel for further analysis. I'm in love!

Gear up

My biggest tip is to buy real running shoes at a real running store. The employees know what they're talking about and can help you find the best shoe for your feet. They may even tape your gait and biomechanics while you're running on a treadmill. In Chicago, I shop at Fleet Feet (they have locations nationwide). In St. Louis, I shopped at The Running Center of St. Louis. In Cleveland, I went to Second Sole. There may be other local running stores near you. And please...don't pick your shoe based on color! A pink shoe for overpronators will only cause problems if you need a neutral shoe. A good running shoe will probably cost around $100. This is an investment in your health.

As for socks, it's a good idea to buy moisture wicking socks. Cotton is no good. It'll keep all the sweat in and lead to blisters. I also use Body Glide on my feet or any other places prone to blisters or chafing.

You don't need fancy clothes to run. I'm sure you already have shorts, a t-shirt or tank top, and a sports bra. Moisture wicking clothing helps, but it isn't necessary. Target and Old Navy have some pretty good options for less.

I'm not a medical professional or running coach. So you'll probably want to get a physical before starting running or training for a new distance. And be sure not to do too much mileage, too fast. A good rule of thumb is not to increase either your (1) weekly mileage and/or (2) long run mileage by more than 10 percent a week.

Other than that, just get out there and run!

Runners, it's your turn. Do you have any tips for a rookie runner?
New runners, what are your burning questions about training?
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  1. I've always admired runners! I just can never seem to get myself to do it :)

  2. Jon (my husband) signed up for the Chicago marathon last week. It's going to be a long summer of training! :)

  3. sigh. I'm a runner and currently out of the loop because of a stress fracture from running too much on the treadmills because of the cold in New England. I'll have to live vicariously through you ;) so happy to have stumbled on your blog! xoxo {av}

  4. Maddy - You can totally do it! The hardest part is getting out the start and getting started.

    Stephanie - Tell Jon good luck! I'm considering Chicago, but it's still up in the air. Though I might be adding the Cleveland half marathon to the list shortly.

    av - I'm glad you found me too! And I've been getting pretty friendly with the Chicago treadmills too. Hopefully I can avoid shin splints and stress fractures.

  5. Hey- I found your blog through Designer Jules!
    I started Couch to 5K a year ago (I am 37 with 5 children) and it was a huge step for me. I ran my first 5K in August and it was wonderful- plus it was on my birthday, so it was a great gift to myself. Two things really help me with running- first, I have shin splint wraps from Fleet Feet that keep my shin splints from acting up. Second, I have the Runkeeper app on my iphone. It uses the phone's internal GPS to track how far you have gone, and at the end, you can see a map. Plus it keeps track of all your times and sends you encouraging emails. And you can use your ipod tunes with it.


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