March 10th, 2020
How I Started Running
by Jeannette Boudreau, Ontario
As a child, I dreamed of becoming a runner. I grew up wanting to be the woman who crosses the finish line, landing onto a finishing ribbon, with her arms up in the air! I was never a fast runner, so I never made any sports teams in school. I tried out for a few them, and rejection after rejection found me on the sidelines, cheering on my friends.
I began running after I had my babies. I wasn’t afraid to gain weight when I was pregnant and eventually reached 220 pounds. For years, after I became a mother, I would stare at myself in the mirror and wonder if I would ever find myself at my preferred bodyweight again one day. I remember trying all of the fad diets and exercise videos at home. Diet after diet, my body weight went up and down like a yo-yo! When nothing seemed to work, I decided to start running. I remember the very first time I ran in public. I was overweight, unhealthy, embarrassed, but I was also very determined to make some significant changes to my lifestyle.
I remember oh too well, how hard it was to complete one lap around the indoor running track in my small town. I didn’t care what people thought of me because I just wanted to run. And I ran. I loved our indoor track. I would compare it to a little hideaway; a place where I could learn to train my own body and not worry about the world around me. It wasn’t an extremely busy place so I felt very comfortable there.
It wasn’t long before I could run nine whole laps without stopping!! (9 laps was 1 KM) It excited me to see that hard work allowed my body to add more and more laps by the week!
In the beginning, I have to admit, I had high expectations of myself. I continued to imagine myself crossing a finishing ribbon with my arms up in the air. Disappointment caught me as I completed a few races, not coming in first place. It wasn’t always easy to run in the beginning. My body had to adapt to the new routine I set out for it. It wasn’t long before I realized I was not only training my legs to move forward. I was also training my mind, my heart and my lungs.
I’ve done two half-marathons since then, the last one in 2012, and many races in between.
Running tips for beginners
1. Be okay with a slow and steady start.
Set small goals in the beginning. Your body will thank you for this. Don’t put high expectations on yourself. Learn to run without the pressures of expectations. Run to run. Be okay with where you are. Remind yourself that small steps turn into big goals. When I started running at the indoor track, I walked five laps and ran one, or jogged really. I called it my 5:1 start. Eventually, I was able to change my numbers to 4:1 (4 walking laps, one running lap), then 4:2….and so on, until I was ready to hit 1:9 (1 walking lap to 9 running laps). Nine laps in a row are equivalent to one kilometer of running!!
2. Don’t worry about everyone around you.
Controlling our worries and anxieties about other peoples’ thoughts is not always easy. All our lives, we compare ourselves to others. “She’s so much prettier than me! I’ll never run that fast. I wish I had beautiful clothes like her.” We wonder if people are watching us, and we worry about how we look instead of focussing on who we are and on our goals. We forget that taking a significant step in caring for our bodies and health is one of the most courageous steps one could take in a lifetime. When I began running my laps, I felt so proud. I was satisfied with my decision to get healthy and I was determined to become the best version of myself. And nothing was going to take that away from me!
3. Don’t worry about your pace.
When you begin running, you cannot worry about your speed! Worrying about how long it takes you to run one lap may make you work too hard, too fast, and this could lead to unnecessary injuries. Running brings new movements to our bodies, and it takes time for us to adjust to these changes. At the beginning of my running journey, I focused on building my endurance so that I could reach one kilometer of running without stopping. I didn’t care how long it took me to get there. I just knew that if I could run one kilometer without stopping, there was so much more that I could accomplish!
4. Stay motivated.
Stay motivated! Make a plan and stick to it. Decide what days of the week you will go for your runs and do not alleviate the program no matter what! Set your goal and be determined to reach it! Treat yourself after you’ve made small successes. Eventually, your small goals will turn into big goals!!
Don’t have access to an indoor running track?
If you do not have access to an indoor running track, there are many other ways you can start running.
- Outside: Use the poles as reference points to increase mileage and build endurance.
- Highschool outdoor track: Use the same suggestions as learning to run on an indoor track described above.
- Treadmill: Most treadmills have a manual path you can follow. If your treadmill doesn’t show a running track, use the time to increase your mileage. I would walk for 5 minutes and jog for 1 — same idea as above.
Believe in yourself!
If you don’t believe in yourself and find your inner strength and power, how do you expect to make changes to your lifestyle? If you want to learn to run, start running. If you want to lose weight, start making healthier choices. If you want more energy, you can get it! If you want to live your best life, do that!! You are the only one that can take the steps to follow your dreams and reach for your goals. Never give up!