Lessons Learned – or A Year in Running

  1. Sometimes those little articles in magazines have helpful hints. See

“YOU CAN BE A RUNNER”, torn from the September 2009 issue of Women’s Health.

Week 1: Run 2 min, walk 3 min; repeat 6 timesWeek 2: Run 3 min, walk 3 min; repeat 5 times

Week 3: Run 5 min, walk 2 min; repeat 4 times

Week 4: Run 7 min, walk 3 min; repeat 3 times

Week 5: Run 8 min, walk 2 min; repeat 3 times

Week 6: Run 9 min, walk 1 min; repeat 3 times

Week 7: Run 30 minutes

Can you believe this is where I started? Can you believe that I actually FINISHED my year of running?! Can you believe that I am trading THIS plan for a 1/2 marathon training schedule?!

2. Don’t, for any reason, look down at your iPod while you are running on the edge of the pavement in the Milo Cemetery for Goodness Sake! You WILL fall, ass-over-tea-kettle, into the ditch. But if you do, tell everyone you fell into a grave. That’s much funnier. And it’s better to be funny than to be an idiot.

3. If you do stupid shit (see above) you will lose three weeks of training. The same if you get influenza, so wash your hands. Also, when you’ve recovered, get back out there. Now.

4. As soon as you’ve reached your baseline run (mine was one, uninterrupted

mile) sign up for a small, attainable goal. This can be a one-mile ‘fun run’, a local 5k,or a relay. Remember, small and attainable. I survived a marathon relay and a 5k in my first year, and I dare say I could have done more.

5. Make a posse. Find a person/people to go with you. If you’re anything like me, you have no problem flaking out on yourself, but you will do nearly anything to help others. Help them, help you. Two birds, one stone, shabam. See me with my Maine Marathon Relay

My Dream Team

team? It was my brother’s idea, I did the organizing, and we would never have done it had we not been accountable to each other. Just today I added another running buddy to my list! The miles are faster and generally more enjoyable with a good friend around.

6. Do your research. One of my relay team members and I were horrendously, incredibly lost before the relay. Like – very, very close to missing our times. We didn’t drive the relay route OR double-check for blocked roads or any of the important details. There were no shuttles. It was nearly a disaster. On the upside, I didn’t cry because I was convinced that it wasn’t fair for a man to be stuck, lost, in a car with a crying woman who was not his wife, sister, or mother. But as far as two strangers being lost for multiple hours in the pouring rain can go, we had a pretty good time. Also, we saw the most enormous pumpkin in the universe on the back of a truck. Or we were hallucinating. Either way, it was a rather good time for what could have been a disaster.

7. Everyone should get lost with a stranger at least once in their lives. See above. Is this your year?

8. Don’t be a running Nazi. It’s not the right thing to do. Sometimes people start running in old sweatpants and old, ill-fitting sneakers. It may not be optimal, but it’s their business. Sometimes people walk. For all the rules we make, there are no real rules in running like there is no crying in baseball. Sometimes your friends, gasp, don’t like running. It’s okay. Encourage them to find their thing, whether it’s yoga, biking, walking, whatever will make them feel good and strong and healthy. Listen to them talk about whatever as much as they listen to you talk about running. (Notice – this is also my advice to myself here – I tend to talk a lot and am not always mindful of others)

9. Delegate responsibility. Other people, especially children, partners, and students,

"I didn't even sweat!"

will take innate pleasure in holding you accountable, even if you are the one to tell them to. At the beginning of this year I told my students exactly what to do. “Okay”, I said. “If I’m looking a little tense and frazzled and grouchy, I need you to ask me ‘Ms. Webb, have you gone for a run today?’.” They laughed. They thought I was crazy (right on, kiddos), but you know what say? “Ms. Webb! Have you had your run today?” Perfection.

10. Log your progress. I use the app “iMapMyRUN” on my iPhone and laptop. Some people have had a lot of success with the Nike+ app as well. Are there any pen and paper people left out there? Nothing beats getting my week summary from iMapMyRUN with three to five good runs. Nothing is more light-a-fire-under-your-ass-ing than getting a week summary with two to zero runs … it happens. Whether I’m checking out my progress or assessing how to get back on track, it’s nice to have all the information in one place.

Bonus (or – The Best Advice My Brother Ever Gave Me): Buy a subscription to a

See, Mom! We're getting along just FINE!

magazine like Runner’s World.It will keep coming, every friggin month, and even if you’ve sat on your ass eating Oreos and watching The Biggest Loser (not that I have ever done that) for an entire month, you will eventually be inspired to get off your can so that you’re not wasting money on that stupid magazine subscription. Then you’ll be thankful. And you’ll feel better. And those post-run endorphins will help you maybe not eat the entire row of Oreos next time. J


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