I seem to be consistently asked more often these days about how to start from ground zero and start to run and lead a healthy lifestyle. Usually, the end goal is to lose weight, participate in some future race, or just to be healthy. I recently received another request from a friend I went to high school with and thought that after writing my response to her, it would be good to post it here since it fits within my mission to help and inspire others. An excerpt of her question is below followed by my response to her. As always on RTRSBM, these are only my opinions and ones that I have tested for the past 13 years and have worked for me. From 250 pounds to 190 pounds and 3 100-mile finishes, it has worked for me. Like all things, it may not work for you! The key is to research, learn, and find what DOES work for you and DO IT!
Excerpt of Question:
"When the weather gets nicer would you have time/interest in helping me build my endurance to help me run further? I've tried everything & don't know what to do. I feel like I don't accomplish much when I don't have someone "hounding" me & looking over my shoulder so to speak. It really inspires me that Marjie is doing so well with her training for the Pig. She wasn't in any athletics really in school except for Middle school VB I think & I was in every sport known to man but I can't run long distances to save my life. Either I'm just not meant to do it or I'm doing something wrong. I'm no where near the double digits you do, but I'd give anything to work my way there though. I got out of practice. Since then I can't lose weight to save my own life or anyone else's for that matter. Let me know if you're able to help in any way."
"I would say the key ingredients are consistency and accountability. If you're not running/training with anyone to keep you accountable, a written schedule is key. You write, you see it every day, you feel accountable to it. I found a basic half marathon (13.1 miles) training plan. Whether or not you want to run 13.1 miles doesn't matter. The point is that it provides a foundation to grow from and it gives you a road map. It is not set in stone...it is flexible. My recommendation is to look at the schedule, then grab your daily calendar and fit the schedule, per week, onto your calendar. When you see "cross"...that's cross-training. Biking, lifting, or something other than running. The days can all be mixed up to accommodate your life but stick to the key parts of rest days and the mileage. You will notice that it very gradually increases the distance...very gradually. Trust me on this: your body will learn how to go further when increased distance is introduced slowly...it will. Marjie, Bekah, Jim, Bill and countless others are proof. Also, you will notice the plan starts out at 3 miles of running. If you can NOT do this, start by running this way: Run 1 min, walk a minute, repeat. Then run 2min, walk a minute, repeat. Continue this as you increase your running time. By the time you get to 7 or 8 min of running, you will be at a mile. You can also use landmarks like homes, buildings, intersections, or street signs to accomplish the same thing. Do NOT start out with a distance you know you can't cover. That's an express trip to failure and frustration. A little at a time and before you know it, you'll be running 10 miles. You will...trust me.
One principal I teach people which I didn't read anywhere but I believe is critical and one I've been using for years and use it today from any distance of 6 miles to 100 miles is letting your breathing dictate your pace. As you are running, close your mouth completely. If you are instantly unable to do so, you are running too fast. From time to time, I do this while running to get a check at my effort level. It's great for increasing endurance over the long haul. If you can't close your mouth and breathe through your nose, you are working too hard. If you can, you are at a "steady state" of running and will have increased endurance. Over time, your pace will increase as your body "learns" as well as the distance. Your body is an incredibly smart machine. It is very teachable but as with many things, must be done slowly or injury/frustration will result.
I'm not going to preach diet but I will tell you that your diet will directly impact the quality of your runs...usually the next day's run. Eat like crap and don't expect the "fuel" needed to propel you to be quality, either. It's like putting contaminated fuel in your car and expecting it to run like a top. Not gonna happen! Also, increase your water consumption greatly. Most people shy away from water thinking "If I drink more, I'll retain more and will be bloated." In reality, the opposite is true. Once you start consistently start drinking more water, your body will realize this and release water thereby creating a sort of flushing effect. You will feel better, run better, have a better complexion, etc. Your body's #1 ingredient is water so replenishing your stores of water constantly is a key cornerstone to it all. If you saw me on a daily basis, you'd know that as common as having my cell phone with me to keep me connected to the world is having my 1 gallon jug of water. It goes everywhere with me.
I hope this helps! Read, write it down, commit! No excuses!"