By: Janice Johnson-Plumer
Boy, do I wish spring would hurry up and get here! I miss the opportunity to lace up my sneakers, tune up my iPod, and run like Forrest Gump! You may say, “I wish I could run even to my front door,” or “I wish I had the energy or the confidence to run.” Well, it’s way easier to run a 5K than you think! I was recently instant messaging with a friend of mine who just signed up for her first 5k, which is literally running in mud. She is getting her mind and body ready for the race, which is in July.
I remember when I was at my gym I would see people running on a treadmill like it was nothing. They had so much grace and they were in such a rhythm. I would stare and say to myself, “I could never do that.” I am not coordinated enough, I am slow, and I don’t have the right gear on, etc. Excuse after excuse after excuse, until one day I decided to get on the treadmill. I was doing great and feeling well and I did not pay attention and I fell right off in front of everyone! I could have killed myself on a treadmill. I could see the headline: “Girl Dies at the Hands of a Treadmill!” If anything, I was embarrassed.
Well, as the saying goes, if you fall off a horse get right back on, which I did a couple of years later. In 2007 I started working at State Street and they hold a 5k race every year with JP Morgan. Every year thousands of runners come and run this race, which is held in downtown Boston. I had become friendly with a couple of coworkers who were runners. After work, they ran for practice, while I went home and ate. They mentioned the race and said they would do it. Well, I said why not? I signed up and picked up my number and I was so excited. My husband said to me, “You haven’t been running or getting yourself ready. Are you going to run it?” I didn’t realize the race was 3.2 miles.
I had my son with me and we took the train into Boston and met my husband at South Station. I was all suited up and ready to run.
When I got to the event I could tell who was a serious runner. They had on cute little gear, matching sneakers, and nice headbands. They were stretching and running in place. I was doing neither. I was simply staring and wondering, “What am I doing here?” I saw my coworkers, who were all ready to run. I told them not to wait for me and they didn’t. They took off like gazelles. My husband and my son were looking on from the sidelines, cheering me on. I was talking to myself, telling myself that I can do this and this is easy. I was thinking that the finish line is in sight and I am almost done. No, I see a loop of runners looping around the same place where I just was! At this point I was praying for God to get me to the finish line.
I also didn’t realize that a 5k should take about a half an hour to finish. It took me 45 minutes! I was so sore and my legs felt like they were going to fall off. Not only that, but we had to walk pretty far to get my car at the lot. My husband was proud of me but I couldn’t wait to get home and collapse into my bed.
I have come so far since my first 5k. In talking with runners they have mentioned to me they have eased their way into running their first 5k. Here are some tips that I have I heard of or I have done personally to get me ready for a 5k.
Couch to 5k/Map My run apps: If you have a smartphone I was told these apps really get you ready to prepare for a 5k. I have friends who use them and both have got them into running all the time.
Walk a mile, run a mile: When you first start out you should walk for a mile and then build up to running a mile. You will eventually build up pace and distance.
Strength training: Strength training helps you build your core and allows you to work muscles that can aid in running.
The right gear: Make sure you wear comfortable clothing and sneakers. If it’s cold dress in layers so you can pull them off. As you progress with your running and you get more serious you may think about getting fitted for a pair of sneakers.
Run with a friend: I think the best motivation is having someone run with you. My friend and I are accountable to each other and we even run 5k’s together. It can be a big motivator and keep you running.
Run for a cause: Homelessness, children, and cancer are all causes that are close to my heart. Why not run a 5k for a cause that you like? You are doing good for yourself and for charity.
Go at your own pace: Do not try to compete with other runners. Run at a pace that is comfortable with you. You will get better over time.
Have fun: Running is an opportunity to be free of any distractions and deadlines. It clears your mind, puts you in a better mood, and relieves stress. It has helped me get through some rough patches in my life and has made me feel better afterwards. So instead of reaching for that candy bar, reach for your sneakers and hit the road!