Thursday, July 26, 2012

Running 101

The second most asked question I get, after how did I lose weight, is how did I get into running.  I haven't been shy about plugging the clinics at the Running Room.  I started the Learn to Run clinic on March 9, 2012.  Since then, I have run 5 first 5k was April 29th, 2012.  My gun time was 45:28, but my goal was to finish it, not break any records.  The RR teaches interval running and I ran my first race using 6:1 intervals.  For those of you wondering what the heck I'm talking about, that means I ran for 6 minutes, and walked for 1 minute, then repeated till I got to the finish line.

There are some runners out there who don't believe that interval running is "real" running.  They believe that if you walk at all, you haven't really "run" the entire race.  Many marathon runners use interval running, my very wise and motivational former running coach included.  Carol used to run marathons without stopping and discovered that her times improved once she started interval running. I don't necessarily need to stop for a 5k race, and for the last one (Eaton Downtown Dash), other than the water station and my first 10:1 interval, I didn't stop.  I eventually get into a grove and can keep going.  I may be able to do that for a 10k, or a 10 miler in the future, but for any half or full marathons, I believe in the interval!

I read many blogs, and there are budding runners out there that are doing the C25K program.  I've looked at this program and although it may work for some...I find it a tad confusing.  I imagine that it loses a lot of people at week 5 when you go from running 8 minutes to 20 minutes in the same week. That's quite a jump!  I know that in the training program through the RR, that I was running 4:1 intervals in week 5.  May seem insignificant to some, but I still ran a 5k three weeks later and finished with a decent time considering it was my first 5k.

I'm teaching the Learn to Run clinic now, and there's always one C25K defector who just couldn't finish the program past the 5th week.  Building gradual endurance will get you the exact same result. By week 10 of the LTR program, you will be able to run 5k.  And I think that running 5K, whether it be interval or straight, is a commendable achievement.  Heck running any distance regularly will aid in your journey.  Walking can do the trick too.  Did you know that you burn the exact same amount of calories whether you walk 5k or run 5k?  True story.  You work different muscles through running and you definitely put more strain on your joints, but you can also get more distance in an hour of running versus an hour of walking.

So which program is better?  That's relative to each individual and what they think they can achieve.  I know I wouldn't have been able to complete the C25K program back in March.  I could definitely do it now 'cos I can run 30 minutes without stopping.  This is something I've only been doing for the past month or so though.      I had less than zero running experience, and even less exercise experience. Don't forget, I absolutely hated exercise in any shape or form.  For your viewing pleasure, you can look at each program to compare (LTR or C25K).  If you want to start running, pick the one you think will work for you, or try both.  You need to figure out which is the better fit for you and your abilities.

Running has changed my life.  If it wasn't for Enz and her encouragement I'm not sure if I would have been exercising the way I am now.  Just for fun, I was looking at race photos last night to compare how running has changed my body over the past three months.  So here goes...
I think the change is pretty significant.  And just to reiterate, here's a photo of me wearing the same racing shirt on the the day I got it. That was April 29th, same as the picture above left.  The photo above right was taken three weeks ago.

There's about a 25 pound difference between the dates of these photos, but running has changed my muscle mass and my clothing size went down significantly.  I was wearing a 16/18R 25 pounds ago, now I'm wearing a 12/14R.  Squeezing into a 12 is very recent and it depends on the brand and cut of the piece.  The 14's are getting really loose and I know 12 is just around the corner.  That is another reason why I continue to run.  Nothing is more motivational than going down a size every month!