I wanted to respond to a question that gets asked repeatedly in the comments section of the blog (and I promise to get you the dessert recipe you all asked for this week, too!).
Q: Margarita, what is your running schedule like right now? How long did it take you to work up to 4 miles?
About 7 months ago, my trainer took me outside of the gym and made me run around the block two times. That was roughly HALF a mile, and still I felt like I’d just crossed the finish line of a marathon. Considering it was the first time I’d ever run outside, I had a hard time breathing before I turned my first corner, mostly because I had no idea how to pace myself without a treadmill belt revolving under my feet. But even with the wheezing and heaving it induced, I was hooked on a feeling I can’t accurately explain. Running—more than any other sport—was the thing my thin friends could do. It was for “real” athletes, people who were in shape, people unlike me… people I wanted to be like. So I stuck with it. Soon after my first flirt with running, I was having a full-fledged affair. I would get up before my training appointments (like, when it was still dark out), and go over to the West Side Highway to run around the pier. Running around a loop over and over again made me feel like I could cross something—another lap—off my running “to do” list every time I came around. That was satisfying. I bought a Nike+ Sportband so I could track how far I was running, and how fast, but I didn’t look down to see my results until I was done. Each time, I’d stop running when I felt I couldn’t go any longer, plus one lap. I always made myself squeeze out one more lap because I knew I could. (Someone close to me was going through a pretty serious leg surgery at the time, and that last lap was always for him. He really couldn’t run; I was just “tired,” and that perspective kept me going.) Once I broke my first mile, things got a lot easier. I didn’t worry about speed—at all—and just tried to run at a pace I could keep up and still carry a conversation if I had to. That meant 12-minute miles, initially. Now, 7 months later, I’m still running—sometimes pretty regularly (like last week, when I didn’t have access to a gym in Connecticut, so I ran outside for four consecutive days), and sometimes not consistently at all (I’ve taken up to 3 weeks off from it). On Friday, I ran 4.11 miles at just under 10 minutes each. I had been averaging a 10-minute, 30-second mile before this, so I was shocked. Again, I think the sleep had something to do with it: After a whole week of 8-hours of sleep a night, my body could function on a whole different level. Music helped, too; I can’t run without my iPod! And this Sugoi running-outside hat has changed my life; it keeps my earphones in and keeps me warm!
My new goal is to be able to run 6 miles. I don’t know why it’s 6 miles, but I heard that’s what Jennifer Lopez was running back in the day, before she was doing triathlons! Hey, if 6 miles worked for J. Lo, I’m on board!
Are any of you new to running and loving it? Or any longtime runners who can give the rest of us some good tips?