16 Minutes

That’s how long it took me to run one mile on the day I decided to finally start running; 16 minutes. It actually didn’t involve much running – more like short intervals of barely moving above a walking pace, mixed with longer intervals of barely moving at all, panting like a dog, my chest so tight it hurt.

That was the day in June that I finally deciding to stop making excuses and saying “I’ll do it when…” and just start already. You’ve probably seen that quote floating around Pinterest that is supposedly a Chinese proverb: “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” Well, that one hit home for me and helped me get my butt in gear.

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An Instagram post from one of my first days running, when I decided I would get new shoes if I committed to using them!

Run, Debbie! Run!

I’ve always admired runners, jealous of the way they so effortlessly run several miles a day – without stopping! I want to be a person who runs because I want to, not because I have to. I want to be able to tell people I run to relive stress. I want to be able to run a few miles without struggling to do so. I want to be a runner.

When I started running that day in June, I was wearing a pair of old, cheap sneakers. I told myself that if I got serious about this whole running thing, then I’d think about getting a good pair of shoes. After about three months of running on a regular basis, I decided I was fully committed and it was time to step up my shoe game.

New Kicks

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Ah, the joys of having high arches…

I went to the Big Peach Running Co., knowing they’d be able to help me find the right pair of shoes for my feet. The entire experience shopping with them was so much fun! Here’s how the process works:

  1. Explain to the nice staff member  why you need shoes & in what kind of activities you’re participating. Me: Um, I run… I guess? (Don’t think I’ve been doing it long enough to call myself a runner.)
  2. Stand on the foot sensor to see how high your arches are and if your feet pronate (lean to one side). This is similar to the system you can find in a drug store, but probably with fewer stinky foot germs on it.
  3. Jog for 10-20 seconds on a treadmill at a comfortable pace, while a staffer video-records your feet from behind. This is used to analyze your gait and determine how much cushioning your new shoes will need to have. I visited the store on my lunch break and chose to change my entire outfit into running clothes, despite the staff member’s insistence that it really wasn’t necessary. (She was right; But who runs on a treadmill in a button down shirt and dress pants, even if only for 30 seconds!?!?)
  4. Try on several pairs of shoes chosen by the staff member that will fit your feet the best based on your foot assessment. Take a walk around the store on the “track”, go for a jog on the treadmill, and be picky. This is the part where you get the feel the differences in various shoe types and brands. I tried on 4 or 5 pairs of shoes and this part was the most fun for me.
  5. Check out their other great products, like fancy running socks (SO worth the extra few bucks) and sports bras that actually keep those puppies in place.

I’m All About That Bass

The #2 thing that helped me train to run 3 miles without stopping (#1 is the shoes) is a good playlist. I quickly realized that my average pace was faster and I enjoyed running a lot more when the rhythm of the music matched my speed, and I didn’t have to fiddle with my phone, skipping songs that were too fast or too slow. I had an epiphany one day that I would create a service that matches runners with playlists based on their average speed and music preferences; For example, a group of songs for someone who runs a 13 minute mile and likes power ballads (who, me?). It would blow up in the running community and I’d be rich!! Well, surprise, surprise, someone already came up with that idea – in fact, a lot of people did. So, maybe my idea wasn’t an original one, but it will still help me enjoy my runs.

Me at the finish line of my first race!

Wonder Woman in full effect!

3.1 – 26.2

I chose the Atlanta Halloween 5K as my first race. I figured it would be fun to dress up and recruit a friend to run with me. Well, I got to do the first part, but couldn’t find anyone to join me, so I ran alone. I was nervous since I’d never even attended a race before, but it’s pretty easy to follow the crowd. I ran the entire 3.1 miles, and my race time was right in the middle of my age group, an average pace of 12:58 per mile. Not too bad for a newbie, and a big improvement on the 16 minutes it took me to run just one mile that first day. (For the record, my fastest one-mile time is 10:30.)

My brother and I have already made plans to run in the Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon next fall, so I have about a year to figure out how I’m going to make it 13.1 miles!! After that, I’d love to run a full marathon, but honestly, it will require a serious time commitment, and it might take me a while to reach that goal. I’m ok with that. It’s a long term goal, and I already enjoy running, and will continue to do so even without a race I’m training for. I’ve planted my tree, now I get to help it grow.

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