Why I Started Running
Total honesty time here. I always felt like I had to lose a little bit of weight before I could start exercising. I had so much weight on my petite 5’2 3/4 frame and suffered from chronic back pain. In the past when I tried to exercise one of two things would happen: I’d either end up in a lot of pain and be immobilized for a few days or I’d become upset with myself because I wasn’t capable of finishing any of the workouts I started.
When I resolved to lose the weight in January 2017, I knew that I wasn’t capable of adding structured exercise into my daily routine. Trying to find the time to prepare our meals at home was eating up enough of my time. Throw in homeschooling two, nursing another, and all the other crazy life stuff we had going on, I just didn’t have the time for structured exercise. I wanted to be successful long term so I started with small, daily movement and decided that later on down the line when I felt like I was ready, I could add formal exercise into my routine.
I take this approach with many things in my life. I didn’t just jump in and start making chicken broth from scratch, homemade almond milk, and refried beans on Day 1. I started gradually replacing things. When I had adjusted to my new schedule and felt confident, I’d add something else.
It’s taken me an entire year but I finally feel like I’m ready (and excited) to add exercise into my routine. After losing 125 pounds just eating real food in modest portion sizes, I feel like I have a handle on the food part. Now I want to work on my stamina, endurance, and strength.
I don’t want to be skinny, I want to be strong. It took me a long time to get here but I know that’s because I waited until I was ready and for that reason this will be a change that will last.
I started interval training last Saturday. All that means is that I spend 5 minutes warming up (brisk walk), and then alternate between running for 1 minute and briskly walking for 1 minute 30 seconds. After 15-20 minutes of this, I have a five minute cool down. That concludes my run.
After my first workout on Day 1, I was super discouraged. I only made it 10 minutes due to some unforeseen inclines that wore me out fast. It was the first time I tried to run in about 10 years and it took its toll. I felt like I couldn’t breathe. I gave up in the middle of the workout and went inside. I laid in bed for two hours waiting for the nausea to subside all the while wondering why ANYONE would EVER subject themselves to such torture. Not knowing that what I did was just about the worst thing you could do post workout!
After reaching out and sharing what happened with ya’ll, I received a title wave of encouragement. You guys were relentless. Sending sweet notes, amazing tips, and encouraging me to try again.
So on Sunday I did. I tried again. Day 2, I took everything you said into account and made it through my ENTIRE workout! After my workout was done, I was tempted to repeat the whole workout again. I felt like I was on top of the world!
On Monday Day 3, I woke up raring and ready to go. I had some errands to run but was excited to get to my run all day. After I got home, I put on my running shoes and I started with a grin on my face.
I was surprised that the workout wasn’t as easy as day 2. My muscle were still a little fatigued and I was battling some pretty heavy winds. About 7 minutes in, I started watching my phone to track the workout. Smile gone, legs jello-y, I was just trying to to get through the rest of it.
Every time my phone said “RUN!” I thought, “not again!” It was rough and I barely made it to the cool down phase.
As I began my cool down, I started to notice several things. My breathing began to return to normal, my heart rate slowed, I started to feel less “I’m going to die”, and started to feel super happy. By the end of my cool down I felt incredible!
That first day in the middle of my workout, I stopped when things got rough. I didn’t give my body any time to cool down or return to normal. I quit and it made my recovery so much more difficult.
In my life I’ve faced hardship. On the 5th of March, it’ll be three years since we lost our son. I’ve struggled with depression, despair, and grief like I never knew existed. I could have stopped there in the midst of my devastation. I could have lived in it.
But something told me that the ‘cool down’ was right around the corner, a chance to acclimate to my new circumstances, and learn to breathe again.
I didn’t stop in the middle of my struggle when my knees were buckling and my breathing labored. If I had, I’d never have been able to experience all the excruciatingly beautiful things on the other side of my cool down.
Whatever is in your way, whatever’s making your legs like jello and your breathing harsh, please know that you are stronger than you could have ever imagined. If you hang on and push through, there is relief and joy on the other side of that mountain.
If you’re on Day 1 or Day 101, my advice to you is: go at your own pace. Don’t give up when things get hard. Perseverance and persistence will yield the best results and bring you to places you never could have imagined.
Thank you for all of your support, wisdom, and unwavering friendship. It’s only been four days but I’m excited to see what the future holds. I love running more than I ever thought I could, which was not at all. In my limited retrospect, I probably love the way running makes me feel about myself, not the actual running itself!
If you have a structured routine that works for you, let us know below! I’d love to know what exercises you are doing!
I’ll keep ya’ll updated on the changes I see now that I’m adding in formal exercise! Click here to subscribe to receive updates!
I started couch to 5k yesterday. However it was updating for the first 10 mins of our walk. I took my boys (10 super fit has a 6 pack & 14 hates exercise). They had almost as tough of a time as I did…which led me to the conclusion that we have to train our bodies to run. So we are hitting the trail again today and repeating day 1 since we didn’t finished yesterday! I want to want to run! And I found that I was down 2 pounds this morning that has broken my 3 week standstill with the scale (I have been exercising but little to no cardio & still losing inches). Best of luck to you as you start your running journey. I pray that you and I and all those starting to run will be successful. My 6 month STG (short term goal) was to be able to walk/run a mile comfortably…we walk/jogged 1.50 Miles yesterday!!!
so is Couch to k an app?
Thank you Brittany. Becoming a runner is one of my top goals. Thanks for the inspiration!!!
You can do anything you put your mind on. That has been my mantra since the beginning of my journey. I have been walking for nearly 3 years. Things haven’t been easy. I injury my knees in the process and always need to adjust to the weather and life in general. After a year plus of walking I joined the gym and I am combining cardio with strength training. I had discovered that love lifting weights. I am doing both. I have been doing lifting for a year plus. I am not skinny or tone. In fact I still over weight. My first year, wasn’t easy learning to eat clean was a process and I either was good in the kitchen or I was good doing exercise but I hardly could do both. My second year I would try to eat clean and working out for a period of time but that year my kid went to kinder garden and we were sick most of the year. We were in a survival mode most of the year. I lost nearly 30 pounds between ups and downs but we had a family situation and I gained 16 last winter. I was trying to recover from the set back when I friend told me about your blog. After two years of a lot learning about exercise, food and strength training, your blog and the accountability group added the piece that I was missing. Convenience ! I change the focus to the convenience portion and the combination of exercise and food finally are coming together. Thank you for the yummy food you share here and making it family friendly.
Hi Brittany! So very proud of you! I have been doing some interval running for a year now. Hoping to run a 5k sometime this spring or summer. I recently started adding weights with a balance ball from an old DVD I had called core secrets. Good luck!!
Thank you so much Misty! I’ll have to look that up. 🙂
Hi Brittany! I’ve started going to UFC Gym and let me tell you it’s not easy at all – none of there classes are easy! But I like the way it hurts so good because I feel my muscles burning and I know something good is happening. My goal is to tone up as I lose weight. Good luck to us all!!
Your AMAZING, and inspiring, you have come so far and I am just SO proud of you ❣
Besides walking the dog, I swim every morning. I sure understand not wanting to work out until one is a bit slimmer! I tell myself that No One else cares what I look like in my suit! I have learned to not think about if I want to swim or not–I just go. I tell myself I may stop if I want to and I mean it–because otherwise I would “rebel” against myself telling myself to work out! (I know!) I am proud of myself everyday, to get through the cold, to climb out of the warm bed, to move it, move it!
Great job!!!! I ran a few years ago and then as usual quit. I haven’t been able to get back into it after running a half marathon and then gaining a bunch of weight back. I did start orange theory fitness this month and I love it!
Very inspirational story. I’m 51 years old over weight and need to make changes in my daily life style due to a medical condition. Unfortunately menopause has kicked in and so was the weight along with it. So I’ve finding new ways to motivate my self the most economical way, so I’m looking to social media. Keep up the good work and I will try this work out regiment.
Congratulations on your hard work paying off in so many significant ways. Thank you for the inspiration!
Thank you Marti. <3
Is there an app that you use to track your running?
I started following your blog after I received an Instant Pot for Christmas, and now I’m so happy to read this post! I started my running journey with Couch to 5k several years ago. What an amazing program! I eventually fell in love with running and worked my way up to running half marathons. When I’m not running, I bike with my husband (long distance road cycling) and do Beachbody workouts (currently on day 57 of 80 Day Obsession). Keep up the good work! I look forward to reading more about your fitness journey!
I started running almost 6 years ago. A friend talked me into going to a Couch to 5K meeting, which I dreaded. I was sure I’d be the most overweight person there. I’m not sure I wasn’t, but what I really noticed was the support of the members of the running group that sponsored it. I told my friend that I might – just might – do the first run. Let me tell you, it was torture. I couldn’t breathe, I felt like I was going to crumble to the ground whenever we did a running segment. I really didn’t think I could do it. By the next year, I had run multiple 5Ks and was volunteering to help with Couch to 5K.
Six years later, I’m still overweight, but have lost about 20 pounds running. The problem is that I really haven’t changed my eating habits. I’m starting to work on that now by checking out this blog. Even so, my running has only improved. I’ve run 5Ks, 10Ks, 15Ks, 10 milers, and a half marathon. Trust me, if I can do it, you can too.
Brittany, you mentioned somewhere in your blog about taking small steps to change your eating habits. Well, use that approach with running as well. If running for 1 minute is too hard, cut it down to 30 seconds, or 20 seconds. Whatever you’re comfortable with that is a bit of a challenge, but not too hard. Also, add some weight training a few times a week. This really helps you run strong. They don’t have to be heavy weights and it doesn’t have to take more than 15-20 minutes to do some arms, legs, abs, etc., plus stretching afterwards. Just strengthening your muscles a bit all over makes running easier.
A few other running tips I’ve picked up along the way that have helped make it easier are:
– Shorten your stride. This really helped me get my breathing under control.
– Don’t reach your leg out in front of you unless you’re running hard. Instead, push off with your back leg and glutes
and let your front leg meet the ground below your body.
– Lead with your hips and try to keep your abs tucked a bit.
– When running uphill, keep your stride short and push off with your back leg (same as above, but it makes hills a bit easier).
– Add hills to your runs once a week – it will improve your running. Do them as slowly as you need to.
– Take walk breaks when you need them. You’re only making it harder when you keep running but you’re just too tired.
Bad running days come and go, so keep running, but don’t feel like you can’t take walk breaks.
– When you want to increase your mileage or time running, but aren’t sure you can, run what you can and walk the rest.
Slowly transition to running more and walking less until you’re comfortable with your new distance. (Then increase your mileage again).
– Sign up for races. Races are the best! I never thought I’d say that, especially being overweight, but they are FUN!
The t-shirt you get with a race is not only a nice treat, but when you wear it to run after the race, it reminds you of what you’ve
accomplished and how far you’ve come.
– Meet other runners. I’ve found that the running community – and it really is a community – is incredibly supportive.
I’m not on Facebook or any other social media, but that doesn’t matter. Just passing another runner and the thumbs-up or
small wave they give, boosts my mood and my run. Give a small wave or smile back! Runners will just start talking to you
at races or at a coffee shop after your run. It’s extremely encouraging.
– Invest in some running clothes. They don’t have to be expensive. I got most of mine on sale at Target or JC Penney’s.
The big thing is to avoid cotton. “Cotton is rotten” was one of the first things they taught me in the Couch to 5K.
It gets wet and stays wet and it chafes. Instead, get clothes made of technical fabric – all the way down to your underwear and socks.
Go to a running store that does free gait analysis and have them suggest the type of running shoe that is best for your build and stride.
You don’t have to buy there, and the best running stores won’t push you to buy. My favorite running store has a very helpful,
but not pushy staff. And they give customers 10% off for being a preferred customer – which is just sharing your email for their newsletter.
The 10% off brings their prices lower than I can get online, so I end up buying my shoes there. So check out your local running stores.
– Many running stores have free or inexpensive running classes. Check them out.
– Check out Runner’s World online and sign up for their free newsletters for plenty of great tips. I get the Quote of the Day newsletter
and The Rundown newsletter and I just love them.
Best of luck to all of you runners and soon-to-be runners!
WOW SUE! Thank you so much for all of this invaluable information! I’m taking notes and am going to begin implementing some of your advice right away. I need to look up a local running store as well. I’ve just been using $12 tennis shoes from Kohls but I think getting some professional advice will be best in the long term. Thanks again Sue!
That is great information, thank you! I am doing my first 5K on Saturday and I am so excited! I want to keep doing them so I keep up with my “running.” I know I need pro running shoes but fear the price tag…my family is stretched thin with money so that doesn’t help. But reading all of your tips and advice is very encouraging – thank you! 🙂
I recently started going to Orangetheory Fitness and am a huge fan — it’s High Intensity Interval Training and I’ve found it great for both my cardiovascular health and building strength. If you have one near you, it’s totally worth going for a free class to see if you like it. I think it can help you with your goals of running and feeling stronger! You’re an inspiration, btw — best of luck!
Thank you so much Megha! I wish I had one near me. The closest one is a couple hours away. 🙁
First of all, I’m a new follower and am very inspired by your story. Having become a runner myself after losing a large amount of weight, I know how it felt in the beginning. I used to HATE running and any kind of exercise.
Now, I love it! There’s nothing like a runners high and the feeling you get after finishing a run. You are going to love it the more you do it! My only advice is to make sure you have proper shoes. Everyone prefers a different running shoe, so if you have a local running store that could fit you for the right shoe – it makes a world of difference. It makes me happy to read about others finding new excitement in running!
I’ve just started running too. Some of the fun 5Ks they do just look so fun and I’ve always wanted to do one so I guess this year’s the year! I am doing the Color Vibe 5K this Saturday – my first 5K ever. I’ve not gotten on the treadmill anywhere near what I should, because I not only work full time but am on my own in the evenings with my 2 year old and 8 month old due to my husband working 3rd shift, but I do what I can when I can. And even with what little I’ve gotten on the treadmill is getting a little easier and easier.
You have inspired me to want to eat better, work harder at my weight loss, and be more positive so thank you. I still struggle quite a bit with everything because I am so busy (and exhausted) all the time with work and the babies. If anyone on this journey is in a similar situation to mine let me know – I could use all the tips/help I can get!!
You are seriously amazing, keep it up. You have such a very beautiful life and you are very blessed.
Brittany I am not running at this particiular time but a few years back I had lost 40 lbs and I was at the beat weight of my life… my goal was always tonrun on the treadmill. Although running outside is nice Inwas afraid of the jarring impact on my joints. So I began doing treadmill with incline. First low incline and and walking at aboit 3.5 pace. Then shooting the treadmill up to 9 or 10 incline and decreasing rate of speed. I kept this up at all my workouts and started to feel stronger ans my endurance improved slowly but surely. I thought inwould never run. Who me? This girl run? I am 57 now. At the time I was around 55. Well let me tell u. This girl was running in about 3 months time. I could run for 1/2 hour at 5.5 or 6 on the treadmill! So I enjoyed that workout while I could keep up with it. And I also strenght train with heavy weights doing leg press and free weights and alot of planks! But….I developed adrenal fatigue…it is something that just happened to me. The 4o plus pounds i had lost started to inch up and pretty soon without me doing anything different my weight started to go up and I guess my body crashed.
So. Now I am back where I started. At my set weight…and I had to stop doing cardio and all these things bc my body was too taxed and unable to handle the stress of this workout
My advice would be to do everything in moderation and listen to your body. The healthy eating that you are soing is key. The exercise is great but dont overdue it like I did. I am still trying to get bsck to my former thin self but now I have to approach it differently and do low impact and strength training. Nothing crazy. I wish you luck in your efforts but please keep a close tab of how you are feeling and go from there. i too have Hashimoto and hypothyroidism. Its not fun and just wanted to gove you my experience so u wouldnt suffer the same outcome. Thank you for your continued inspiration!