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I put my 2012 race schedule up on Facebook yesterday and got a number of responses about it (I’ll post it here in a separate post), including a question about when I first ran–When was it and do you remember it and why did you go out again? So I figured it would be best addressed here!

While I had dabbled with running when I was in my 20’s, it never really stuck. I think in my head I didn’t identify as a ‘runner’ and couldn’t fathom that I could ever enjoy it. I slogged through a 5k in 2002 but quickly discovered that I liked hiking better so I spent my time and energy there instead.

About a month after I had my second child, in the fall of 2007, I went back to the gym, essentially to get out of the house for a bit. I picked up a magazine, probably ‘Self’, and while I was reading I found what it claimed was a ‘great treadmill workout!’ So I tried it. It included a couple of 1-2 minute intervals at a 6 mph pace (I think). It taxed me to my absolute limit. It was an incredible workout, one I couldn’t really do. I think it felt pretty exhilarating after pregnancy and giving birth. Endorphins, you know? I went home and said to my husband, “I did a workout that had running in it. It was TOUGH!”

His response was a simple, “Running is hard.”

My thoughts?

“Challenge accepted!”

I signed up for a 5k that was scheduled for a couple of months later and started ‘training.’ No plan, I just went out or went to the gym and ran as far as I could. I don’t remember when I ran a full mile without stopping, it might not have been that long, but my pace was slow. I was definitely going for endurance over speed (which I would continue to do until the beginning of 2011, the first time I added speedwork into my running).

Race day was almost exactly 4 years ago to the day–the first Saturday in January. Looking back I think I must have been training a lot on the treadmill. Here’s why I think that: The 5k started in front of a local high school. There was probably an elevation gain of 50 feet in the first .15 miles. I remember thinking “I don’t want to do this.” Not good in the first minute of your first 5k. Clearly I hadn’t been training any hills.

Anyway, I kept with it. I’m pretty sure I was within the last 10 runners to finish. Final time was around 38 minutes I think. I wrote about it on the blog I was keeping then. Here’s a link: My first modern-day 5k

It would take me another 2 years to enjoy running, and another three years (plus three 1/2 marathons) to feel comfortable calling myself a runner.

I think if I had advice to give a beginning runner, it would be to set a concrete goal and work for it in a way that you’re comfortable with. Sign up for a 5k to give yourself something to work for. That’s what kept me going day after day. Some people say find a buddy to workout with, and those are great. For me, I needed flexibility and did all the training (and the race) solo. I’m pretty private when I’m doing something new, though, and didn’t really want anyone to see me struggling. This would probably be why there are so few pictures of my early running days.

I will say, in the beginning it was pretty stripped down. I didn’t have a proper fitting or a pair of decent running shoes for another two years. (Not that I recommend that). No Garmin or tracking system. Just a sports watch and a ponytail holder, basically.

It really doesn’t take much. Just go. You won’t regret it!