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So you completed your first 5K (like, maybe the Her Times women’s 5K) and now that the “big day” has come & gone, you may be feeling a little lost or confused about what to do now (some people even feel a little depressed when they complete their big goal). What now? What’s next? Where do you go from the 5K? How do you make running a lifelong habit? What will keep you going through a long, cold Erie winter?
I’ve got some advice and tips:
* Aim to run three days a week. If you just completed your first 5K, you will probably want to run about 45 minutes or 2-4 miles. Don’t run more than five days a week. Rest days are very important for recovery.
* Do other stuff, too. On the days you don’t run, do some weight training or yoga or another form of low-impact exercise and/or strength training. Cross training will help keep you build a strong core, which helps keep injuries at bay.
* Commit to it. Make your exercise time a non-negotiable on your to-do list. Don’t let anything interfere. There is very little that can’t wait for a half hour or 45 minutes. This includes your kids. You’ll be a better, more patient and healthier mom if you take the time you need to take care of yourself.
* Make it routine. Make exercise a part of your day. Morning works best for most people who work full time because it’s the least likely time to be interfered with. Yes, it sucks to sacrifice an hour of sleep, but…it’s totally worth it to start your day off right and have it done for the day. Energy begets energy — if you get up early & exercise, you’ll have more energy all day (maybe not at first, but…once you adjust to it, you will).
Tip: Set your shoes and workout gear out the night before in the bathroom near the potty. I get my workout stuff on right after I pee. Many a time I’ve gotten laced up and realized it’s 3 in the morning. — Eloise Hawking
* Sign up for another race now. If you’re the kind of person who needs the pressure of a race date looming in the future to keep you going, then just look at the list here…pick one (or more) & send in your registration. Definitely sign up for the Turkey Trot (and do it now) — it’s a fun family event!
* Set a new goal. Work toward trying a 10K or longer race next summer. You can find tons of training plans here.
* Find fit friends. Join the Erie Runners Club. Friend the club on Facebook and request to join the ERC running groups page (it’s not very active, but…it’s a resource). Look for other runners about your pace in your neighborhood or near where you work. Erie has a very active, large, and welcoming running community. Join in and you’ll never have to run alone again.
* Get a dog. Borrow a dog. Adopt a dog. Dogs are fantastic training partners. They go in any weather and are ALWAYS enthusiastic about running. They’re also good listeners and pace setters.
Tip: if you’ve got a dog that pulls, try a “gentle leader” — if you control their head/face…they have no choice but to stay beside you.
* Rely on it. Pay attention to how running makes you feel. Realize that 3 miles can turn a really crappy day into a not-so-bad one. If you’re about to lose your cool with the kids, go for a run — when you come back, you’ll have the strength, patience and energy to deal with them.
* Invest in winter running gear. Don’t be afraid to run outdoors year-round. Hundreds of us do and – trust me – you’ll find that it’s one of the most pleasant and peaceful times of the year to exercise and, provided you’re dressed, properly, you won’t be cold after the first mile. Here is info on recommended winter running gear.
Tip: Marshall’s always has winter running gear at decent prices. Don’t forget that if you’re running in the dark (and if you’re running in Erie in the winter, you will probably be running in the dark), you need a reflective vest or jacket.)
* Bookmark this blog. I can’t say it’s always riveting reading (if only I had three more hours in every day or if this was my full time job, I’d write TONS of cool content for you guys), but it will, at least, provide a connection to the Erie running scene and a forum for you to learn more about the sport.
* Ask questions. Runners love to talk about running! And 99.9% of runners also love to help new runners, so don’t be afraid to chat up any runners you know. Also, you can email me your questions (please do…it gives me blog fodder!) at zipdang22 at aol dot com (spelled out to thwart spammers!).
* Own the “runner” label. Because….
From the Running community
I decided to gather advice & tips from other area runners, too. I asked them: What advice do you have for those new to running? What made you stick with it when you first started?
I loved the racing, but I wasn’t much for the training. My dad would pay me 25 cents per mile I ran toward my next race entry fee. I think intrinsically, I do that for myself even now. Like I get a 10 mile week in, and I know $2.50 isn’t going to get me in any races, but when I string a couple of $10 weeks together, I know I can race. — Greg Cooper (Penn State Behrend cross-country and track coach)
Fun runs with friends! Plan “destination runs” for coffee…wine….dinner, etc. — Stacey Hammer
Having a friend to run with is probably the #1 reason I stayed consistent when I started.
I also started keeping a log, knowing I hadn’t recorded any mileage in a few days was reason to get out the door.
I would also suggest signing up for the Turkey Trot — Jennifer D.
Find a running buddy! — Tracy Jenks
Be patient, run within yourself, expect your miracles to occur with time. — Al Warner
Running with friends is my time to chat, laugh, catch up and feel a lot better than I did when I started. I also enjoy the occasional solo run and cherish the “me” time to think through things or daydream without interruption. — Kristen Currier.
Running with friends for fun is really the only reason I run. I’m not even a big fan of running, but the company and the conversations – and sometimes the destination – is what keeps me running. — Matt Kleck
I find tranquility in running. To me, it has become therapy after a long day. My dog – a husky – is my running partner and I enjoy taking him and running the trails until one of us poops out. I have simply made running (exercise) a routine part of my day. I also use the Nike App on my phone and always have a goal to keep me accountable. — Angie Faulhaber.
You don’t have to race or be competitive to enjoy running. I like it so much more now that I just run to run. I had a P.R. at a half marathon this weekend and I didn’t even realize it until three days later when someone else looked up my time and told me. And, never underestimate what you can do it you put your mind to it. — Renee Uht
I enjoy running for the fun and time it gives me with my friends. I can always carry on a conversation (editor’s note: you should be able to carry on a conversation when you’re on a long training run…if you can’t, you’re running too fast). I also like that when I feel like being competitive, it’s only a competition with myself and not what everyone else is doing. It’s my PR. Running with friends keeps me motivated to go greater distances than I would ever try solo. — Debbie Humphreys
I started running track in high school and my teammates kept me accountable. After track, I kept running because I realized that I really enjoyed the time alone to think or de-stress, which was a lifesaver as I got older and was in college. Looking forward every day to that time to run and be alone with my thoughts was what made me stick with it. I loved it. As an adult, I can look back and see that running didn’t just give me “alone time,” it also helped me develop a lot of positive qualities, such as perseverance, resilience and determination. — Karen Beebe
I started running when my doctor told me at age 18 that I had high blood pressure, something that runs in my family. They wanted to put me on meds and I said, “No, what else can I do?” The doctor told me to do more cardio. So I went to Sears bought a $10 pair of sneakers called “Winners.” It was 1985. And the rest is history. I haven’t had trouble with high blood pressure since. I run for stress relief and so I can eat and not get fat. I just started running with other people four years ago and it’s nice to mix things up, though I will say solo runs with some good heavy metal music is my therapy. — Amy Morrow
When I first started running, I would set small goals for myself usually about a month apart. It would keep me interested and on track. Eventually, I found a great group of running friends and now we run for fun. We pick a place (coffee shop, bar, chocolate shop, winery) and make it a social thing. It gets you out of the house and combines exercise with fun – which is think is the key to sticking with it. — Leslie Cooksey
Sign up for a race every month. —Trisha Schrieber
I’m a social runner, so I pretty much never go out alone. So my advice is to get in a running group. Also, make it public. If I NEED to go out alone, I post it online or message my friends…that gives me accountability. — Jen Kelly
Sign up for another event. I like to know I have something else coming up, and then I keep moving. It’s way more fun to sign up to do an event with others. The social part makes it much more fun. — LeAnne Morton
When I really got into running I set goals for myself. First a 10k then a half. Now it’s running different events and places. I do agree to run with friends helps too! Plus change it up! — Betsey Haffley