Monday, May 12, 2014

How to Run a 5k from not being able to run 5 minutes: An interval story.

Ok friends. I know that Couch-2-5k is all the rage right now and honestly I think it's a great program. It encourages non-athletes to get out there and make it happen! For me though, I was a big ole C25K failure. I think it was somewhere after it told me to run for 12 minutes flat and then quickly jumped to 20 minutes that I dropped out....3 times. I could not do it. I just thought that I couldn't run. I thought maybe I was too out of shape. I'd start running when I lost another 30-40 pounds (cough - excuse - cough).

You know the story of how I started running (if you don't - I joined a sit-to-fit running group and the rest is history) but a bunch of you have asked me what exactly I do and I wanted to give you a bit more info:

The end!
Just kidding. I run intervals. No I don't run consistently throughout the race. Yes, I still call myself a runner.
This is how it works. My running group is broken down into subgroups: 1:3, 1:2, 1:1, 2:1, 3:1 and full run. The first number is how long you run in the interval and the second is how long you walk. I started out in the 1:1 group so I was running one minute and walking one minute. My first time out I finished a 30 minute run by doing intervals. In ONE session I went from running 5 minutes to completing around 2 miles. This sense of accomplishment is really what spurred me forward to continue running. I now run 2:1's even though my time has slowed a bit on my splits. I want the challenge. I now crave that feeling of pushing my body and the pride I feel when I can go further than I thought possible.
But what if I can't run for 1 minute?
First, I bet you can. Secondly, you can do your interval for however long you feel comfortable with. You could do .30/3's if you wanted to and you know what? You'd STILL be a runner!
But what if I can't run intervals for 30 minutes?
I joined in the middle of my running program. Their first week out they did a 5 minute walking warm-up a 5 minute run and a 5 minute cool down. Start where you are comfortable. Obviously you want to see how far you can go but you don't want injuries so see what's comfortable for you!
How do I time my intervals?
I use a free timer app on my iPhone called "Seconds". It is a HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) Timer. I set it for a 5 minute warm up, high intensity 2 minutes, low intensity one minute. Then I set 15 sets. That will have me running for 45 minutes. The timer beeps at me when it's time to run and walk so that I don't have to consult a watch and I can zone out on my music.
How do I build mileage?
Example Schedule:
My running group holds a program that starts 8 weeks before your target race. The runs are not measured by distance but by time. The time gradually builds so that by week 6 you are running 40 minutes with a 10 minute warm-up and cool down. The last week is a taper.
Week One -
Run 1 - 5 minute warm up, 5 minute run, 5 minute cool down
Run 2 - 5 minute warm up, 10 minute run, 5 minute cool down
Week Three -
Run 1 - 5 minute warm up, 20 minute run, 5 minute cool down
Run 2 - 5 minute warm up, 20 minute run, 5 minute cool down
Week Six -
Run 1 - 5 minute warm up, 40 minute run, 5 minute cool down
Run 2 - 5 minute warm up, 40 minute run, 5 minute cool down
Week Eight - Taper
Run 1 - 5 minute warm up, 20 minute run, 5 minute cool down
Run 2 - 5 minute warm up, 10 minute run, 5 minute cool down
What running program should I follow?
There are tons of free running programs available online. Many people are extremely successful with Couch to 5k or other running programs. This is what worked for me! If you have any questions let me know (after first consulting your doctor!) You can leave a question in the comments below or message me on My Fitness Pal (threeohtwo).


Thursday, May 8, 2014

The Flying Pig 5k

The Flying Pig is a marathon in my hometown of Cincinnati. It's a huge event with people coming from all over the world to participate. This means that there is a whole glorious weekend dedicated to this amazing events including a wellness expo, 5k, 10k, kids runs and then the half and full marathon as the culmination event on Sunday.

I'm glad that this event was my first race experience because it was so nice. You could choose to pick up your race packet on Friday or Saturday morning. My race was Saturday morning and I was so nervous that I chose to pick it up Friday. The expo was packed! I will be honest and say that I was so intimidated prior to this event. I don't look like a runner and I wondered how many people would be wondering what I was doing there. I realized that it was really ME doubting my abilities so I sucked it up and soaked in the energy of the event.

Friday night I went to sleep at a decent hour, laid my clothes and bib out and set two alarms for the morning! I didn't really need to set them because I tossed and turned all night with anxious energy. I woke up before my alarm, woke up my friend who had stayed over in preparation for our early morning and off we went. We stopped to get a bagel and made it to our meeting location in plenty of time.

Our running coach calmed our nerves and we did a large group stretch and received some last minute instructions on how the race would go and pointers regarding our timing chips. We then walked to our corrals at the starting line. On my registration form I put that I thought I'd finish in 45 minutes so I was in corral F. I have found that people tend to underestimate their time and I wish that I had put a faster time so that I didn't have to spend so much energy dodging in and out of other runners for the first few miles.

We joked around and laughed and then the race started and we were moving! It took around 3 minutes to get from our corral to the actual starting line but when I got there I took off! My first mile pace was 12:30 but then I slowed from there. I didn't use the pacing I practiced but I ran the majority of the race. I walked up the huge hill which I know affected my time. Around 2 miles I was beat. I wish I had taken some gels or jelly beans to give me a quick burst of energy to finish the race. I walked a bit but when I saw the finish line I ran the rest of the way.

I'm glad I did the race with friends even though once it started we didn't see each other until the finish line. No matter how exhausted I felt once I reached the end I felt so accomplished. I felt invincible!

If you are considering doing a race do it! If you finish in 20 minutes or 2 hours you'll feel like a beast when you cross that finish line!


Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Fat Girls Running

Hello Bloggy, Bloggie? Blog.
It's been forever. Oops. It's been months and I'm sorry. There've been good things and bad things and amazing things and just things. BUT, I'm here to talk about one thing in particular. Running. Not just running but Fat Girl Running.

Did you know there are no blogs about fat girls running? There is one and she's amazing and props to her ( I refuse to believe that there aren't a lot of big girls out there hitting the pavement. For that reason it is now my solemn vow to document my journey as a fat girl runner so that fellow lovelies who might not be a size 2 (you're awesome too size 2's) know that they can rock this amazing sport too.

My Story:
I've wanted to run for a long time. I've always been scared. My story is not one of an athlete who gained weight after high school or gained the freshman 50. I have always been overweight and the weight crept on year by year. I gained 20 pounds a year probably until college. I have always been active but it hasn't seemed to matter. When I was 16 I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome and Insulin Resistance which started to make a lot of sense regarding why I could be incredibly active and not lose any weight. Once I got my diagnosis not much changed. I got put on medication, I went off the medication and Have bounced between 240-300 pounds for the last 10 years.

Fast-forward to this year. I'm 28 years old working multiple jobs and using MyFitnessPal to track calories. My friend Kathy started going to a running group with a local running store and invited me to attend. After many failed attempts at Couch-to-5K I was frustrated and just assumed that I was too heavy to run. I couldn't run longer than 5 minutes at a time so I never got past the first few weeks. She continued to encourage me to attend and 4 weeks into their program I gave it a shot. It was HARD. They run intervals so I chose the 1:1 group, run one minute walk one minute with a warm up and cool down. There were hills and I was hot and the only words I could get out of my mouth were "I'm dying". I didn't think I would make it. The last leg was up a giant hill and I took my last ounce of energy and ran to the top. I couldn't breathe. I was exhausted. I was PROUD. I don't remember anything I've done in the past 10 years that have made me so proud. Not my Master's Degree, not getting a job - nothing. I ran that first mile in 15:30. Slow to say the least. I didn't care. I kept training and pushing and slowly but surely I was faster. It wasn't so hard. I could go longer and breathe better. My feet didn't hurt as badly so I moved up to doing 2:1's and then you guys guess what?! I ran a 5k. I ran a 5k in 42:43 which is a 13:43 pace per mile. I ran a 5k at 270 pounds. I did intervals and I walked some but it was amazing. You can do it too.

Don't let anyone tell you that you are too heavy, weak, out of shape. Don't listen to negative self talk. You can run if you want to run. Take it slowly, push, and watch yourself grow (as long as it's ok with your doctor ;) )

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Gain and Loss

Hello little blog.

It's been awhile. I'm sorry. I still love the idea of you. I love the idea of documenting my growth as a person, of being able to look back and watch myself change. See where I came from. I've missed that. So here I am. Back and begging for forgiveness.

I have some news....kind of. I started working hard in September to lose weight. Yes, I know...I'm always "working hard" to lose weight. But this time it's different. This time I'm doing it. This time when I eat my feelings its for a meal or for a day and I reign it back in before it can do any lasting damage to my body, my mind or my self esteem.

I can't say what has clicked to make this time different than the other times. I feel stronger, more patient. I feel ...ready.

The idea of weight loss has always been a mish mosh in my head. It's so many ideas roaming around at once that it's hard to pull anything out. In weight loss you literally lose part of yourself. You occupy less space, you become smaller and yet as I see my weight loss I feel my spirit grow bigger.  I feel my confidence get bigger. I feel brighter. When you think about it that is difficult to wrap your mind around.

On the flip side there's also the fear of being unclothed by fat, naked and unprotected from the world. I have spent my whole life obese. Morbidly obese actually. I had plenty of friends and the occasional boyfriend and being fat helped develop my personality. I developed a sense of humor, I developed compassion, kindness, love and empathy for others. I became ME because of my weight. So...what does that mean when I lose it? So often I wonder worry that I will change. That I will lose the me-ness that comes from this security blanket of fat. I think that's why I've stalled so many times. I get to that precipice where I'm about to start noticing a significant loss, a change in the shape of my body or a change in the shape of my face and boom. it hits. Anxiety that I can't place. Anxiety that can be quieted by large amounts of food from restaurants containing little to no nutritional value and for those brief moments, for the time that I am engulfed in a carbohydrate fatty craze I am content. I am me. I know this feeling. I know the shame that follows afterwards I know how to cope.

How do I cope with feeling hip bones? Seeing peeks of definition in my stomach? Of losing part of me? Of the unknown?

Everyone always focuses on the benefits of weight loss and how amazing you feel afterward but I don't think enough people focus on the mental difficulty of waking up each day and looking different. Of your physical appearance changing and worrying who you will be at the end of this journey.

I know that it's worth it. I know that I want to live a long life and travel and not feel self conscious. I know that I want to wear clothes that flatter my body and be able to shop in regular stores. I want to look good in my underwear and feel confident when I walk down the street or meet new people.

 I want to do this because I want to know who I am without the crutch of my girth.

I want to see who I can become when I achieve my goals and believe in myself.

I'm doing this because I can.

Starting Weight: 302.5
Current Weight: 261.4
Goal Weight: 175

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

How would your world change if you confronted your fears instead of running?

Friday, March 2, 2012


when the heart beats

like bees wings

faster than blinking  

the moment before you doubt yourself

you are in the right direction

you are standing in the perfect ray of sun

you are dripping with possibility

don't run

  - Amy Turn Sharp

See Amy's Poem-a-day project here.