For those of you who read my post about how I’m improving my health one day at a time, all I can say is THANK YOU! I can’t begin to describe how much I appreciated all of the incredible sincere and encouraging messages I received. Writing a post that made me so vulnerable was a bit scary, but everyone’s kindness made me realize that there’s absolutely no shame in my game. I’m giving it my best shot one day at a time!
That said, a lot of messages I received were filled with questions about the Nike running app that I referred to, as well as a more in-depth description of how I got started and what I’ve been doing to keep it up. I’m more than happy to share as much as I can about my journey, especially because I’ve found the positive feedback to be a huge motivator!
Truth be told, getting into the running game was a complete accident. I never had any intention of training for anything. There was a brief stint in college when I trained with the Couch to 5k app (which DOES work if you commit to it!), but I never took it seriously enough – I don’t think I got passed being able to run a mile without stopping. One of the big differences between that app and the one I’m using now is that they do a sort of “interval” training where you walk for two minutes, jog for 4 minutes, walk for 2 minutes, etc. Personally, that’s not something that works for my body. If I’m running and then I stop to walk, my body gets crazy tired and all of the energy that I had goes out the window. It because difficult for me to run for more than a few minutes again without stopping! The Nike app that I use doesn’t tell you when to walk/jog/run. The only thing it does is have you run a little fastest for a few minutes during the weekly benchmark run. Other than that, I go at my own pace on my own time.
As I mentioned in my first post about all of this, I started using the Nike Running app because I signed up for a corporate challenge 5k race with my company. I really had no desire to even try to run for the whole race and on race day, I almost didn’t even go! On the way there, my friend Danielle told me she uses this app and that I should try it out. So I did, and I actually found it to be sort of like an addicting game. I’m pretty competitive with myself and when it comes to running, I was surprised to see that I would constantly push myself to go a little further than the distance that was set for that day. Who knew?! In fact, there’s only been one time in the last 10 weeks when I’ve stopped to walk in the middle of a run (more on that later).
So what’s the key? For me, it’s discipline. I’m famous for letting myself off the hook for one or two workouts, which then turns into three months without stepping foot in the gym. I have yet to let that happen with this program. One thing that’s kept me on track is that I set up a personalized plan within the app that has me training for a specific goal- a 10k on October 7th. Despite the fact that my plans have changed and I can’t run the race on that day anymore, I’m still acting like I am and following the plan. I certainly don’t let it control my life- if I have plans one night or I’m really tired, I move the workout to the next day. As long as I get my four runs in for the week at some point, I’m golden. And the app banks on you being motivated by little rewards, so there’s an entire section dedicated to your personal achievements! Fastest 1k, fasted 5k, longest distance, most miles run in a week, the list goes on and on. It may sound silly, but I feel SO proud of myself whenever I unlock a new achievement!
A new thing for me is running outside. For the first month and a half of the program, I would almost exclusively run on the treadmill so that I could strictly monitor my pace and focus on my breathing. When a week came where I didn’t have access to a treadmill, I quickly learned that running outside is a wildly different experience. There are some parts to it that I find to be harder- namely, keeping a proper pace. But I also find that by trusting my body to adjust to a pace it’s comfortable with, I’m actually able to run much father than on the treadmill! Here’s a perfect example; when I ran 4.5 miles indoors, I pushed myself too hard and ended up taking in too much oxygen. You know what happens when you do that? You get intense stomach cramps and end up lying on the floor of your best friend’s apartment on Bachelor Monday, seriously questioning your life choices and being genuinely scared to run that far again. It sounds dramatic, but I’m so serious- when I found out I had to run 5 miles the following Tuesday for Long Run day, I didn’t think I’d be able to do it. Until I actually did it…
When I moved to Jersey City a few weeks ago, there was no way I could pass up the opportunity to run outside – I live less than a half mile from the waterfront, and the views are unmatched. It would be a crime to miss out! But let me be frank- clear through the first half of my 5 mile run, I thought there was no way I’d be finishing without walking g a little bit. It was actually raining out that day, but I refused to let that stop me – actually, it probably helped to not have the August sun beating down on me during my most challenging run to date. Somehow between mile 3 and 4, I got a burst of energy and realized that if I really tried, I could run the whole thing without stopping. And I did it! It was 100% my proudest moment to date on this whole training journey, because I’m still in shock that went from not being able to run 1 mile to being able to run 5 in under 11 weeks. WHAT EVEN?!
Don’t let all of that fool you though. I am NOT perfect, not even close. The training schedule for that week had me running 5 miles on Monday, 2.25 on Tuesday, and then 5.5 on Thursday. I was still feeling a little tired from earlier in the week, and was also in pain from having a pinched nerve in my shoulder/elbow. I wasn’t going to let that keep me from going on my run, but I wasn’t totally in it. So you know what? I owned it, and I did the best that I could. I ran for three miles, and then walked for about 0.25, then ran another mile, walked for 0.25 and then finished it out. TBH, I’m pretty surprised that my average pace for the whole run was 12:19 – especially since it’s only a minute faster than my typical pace for longer runs.
My point here is that the keys to success with training yourself to run distance, much like training for anything else, is to really commit. I’m not focused on doing this to lose weight or even really to fit into smaller clothes- that’s an entirely different goal. For me, this has been about pushing my personal boundaries far past what I ever thought my body would be capable of doing, and making myself proud every day. I may not fit into size 6 jeans, but I can certainly run a lot farther than some people who do. The cool thing about running is that you can literally do it any time, anywhere. You don’t have to wait for the gym to be open, or worry about your favorite machine being taken. You can just throw on your sneakers and go. Hell, you can even go barefoot and still get some mileage in! It’s a great alternative to what I used to do, which was to directly home and Netflix my life away for the next 5 hours. Not gonna lie, I still do that but at least now I have like, an hour of outdoor time 😂