Maybe spending more time in San Diego, CA, one of the self-proclaimed "fittest cities in the U.S.", helped inspire this but out of the blue one day, I felt the need to go for a run. I had NEVER felt this urge in my entire life, nor ever attempted running. I didn't know how to properly stretch, pace myself, or steady my breathing, but I stepped foot outside anyway. One month later, I signed up for my first 5k and the real training began. I spent three months cross-training and ran my first 5k, Joggin for Frogmen to benefit the Navy Seals Foundation, on July 28, 2018.
Here's how I went from no experience to running my first 5k.
1. Set up a training plan
I opted for a mix of cross-training that I actually enjoyed. I combined running with yoga and spinning classes and as a woman, I tried to sync my exercise routine with my cycle (I use MyFlo app to track my cycle - they offer exercise, diet, and brain recommendations for each phase).
Running: My first run around Mission Bay in San Diego, I clocked in 1.7mi. About halfway to a 5k, it gave me the confidence that I could build that to 3.2mi. Most days I ran around 1.5-2mi. Prior to race day, I had only hit the 5k (3.2mi) three times. I always gave myself at least ten minutes before and after a run for some basic stretching. This really helped during and after the runs for recovery.
Yoga: I practice at-home yoga. There are a variety of online platforms that offer classes. I actually prefer core strengthening yoga classes to vinyasa flows so I found classes that I liked, that also helped me train my core. I used a mix of MyYogaWorks, YogiApproved, Yoga International, and various YouTube videos. When I was on my cycle, I opted for restorative yin yoga classes.
Spinning: Spinning classes were my introduction to cardio workouts and I have to say, they are addicting. I tried a few local spin studios in San Diego but I learned to ride at SoulCycle's West Village location in NYC and so when SoulCycle's first San Diego location opened in La Jolla, I became a regular attending classes a few times a week. I mixed these classes in my routine to build up my endurance.
Meditation: Meditation has become an important part of my wellness routine for the past few years and so I made sure to include a ten-minute meditation every day to keep my head clear and focused.
I grew up in a military family and so once I set my mind to a goal, I adapt a militant accountability attitude. I printed out blank calendar pages and taped them to my fridge. I started with May 2018. Each day I finished my meditation and training, I wrote it on the calendar, essentially giving myself a gold star. In three months, I did not miss a single day (granted I gave myself some 'rest' days with just 10-15 minutes of stretching).
It also helps to have a support group of people around you to build your confidence. My boyfriend would check in with me and ask me about my runs and so I got to share my excitement of hitting my longest distance or shortest time with him. I also announced to my family that I had chosen to run my first 5k. They constantly checked in with me throughout my training as well. My boyfriend's dad was in town a few days prior to the race and he gave me a last big confidence boost, assuring me I had it no problem and shared many stories of him pushing his kids in their first races. His biggest advice was simply to control my breathing. If I could steady my breath, I would keep going.
I used Nike's Running Club app to track my runs. I started with their guided runs featuring the likes of Kevin Hart and Bill Nye - easy, approachable runs. They have excellent training guided runs. Once I started to log longer distances, I didn't like how the guided runs would stop timing and music after the guided portion was over. and so I just connected my Spotify account to the App and used music as my guiding force.
The best part about the app is that every mile, it announces your distance and time so you know how far you have gone.
Music is key! After I finished most of the guided runs on the Nike Running Club app, I switched to music. My favorite Spotify playlist to shuffle is Electro Pose - Discoveries. The songs pump me up and keep me moving. It's amazing what the right song will do to push you forward and what the wrong song will do to your mindset.
Having proper running shoes make a huge difference. I trained almost exclusively in Adidas Pure Boost sneakers, which feel like wearing clouds when running. They are super snug so there is no slipping. I prefer mesh tops or anything quick-dry for clothing.
6. Commit to a race
There are many options and hosts out there for races so you can have some fun selecting a race. I wanted to pick a race that was aligned with a cause I supported and so Joggin for Frogmen benefitting the Navy Seal Foundation was a perfect choice. As mentioned, I grew up in a military family, living in a few states before landing in the large Navy hub of Virginia Beach, VA. My dad was often away, out to sea, for a portion of my childhood. I wrote this poem titled 'Deployment' when I was age seven in second grade about my dad's time away.
Fun Fact: This poem was also my first published piece of writing.
The Joggin for Frogmen race lets you set up a fundraising page as well, and so I set up a page and raised an additional $147.00 for the Navy Seal Foundation thanks to my supporters.
7. Race Day
I wasn't sure what to expect for my first race day. I picked up my packet the day before which had my race "bib" and chip attached. I got the chip for this run to track my official time. I stretched at home and we arrived early and they had a variety of vendors booths set up giving out breakfast, coffee, and pre-workout drinks. They released the runners in waves, with about 5 minutes in between.
Wave 1: Competitive runners, finishing in under 20 minutes.
Wave 2: Casual runners, finishing in 20-33 minutes.
Wave 3: Runners with strollers and/or dogs.
Wave 4: Walkers
I started with wave 2. My biggest fear going into the race day would be that I would subconsciously sync up to other runners who ran faster than my normal speed. I am not a fast runner by any means so I like to set my own, slower, pace.
Kicking off the gate, I kept my mental game strong constantly telling myself to start slow. This actually proved pretty easy because there was a definite bottle neck at the beginning. About a half mile-one mile into the race, the pack starts to break up allowing more room to breathe and move at your own pace.
Luckily, the course was relatively flat, with only one serious incline up and back a bridge. A few runners with strollers did pass me throughout the race, but that kept pushing me on. I was feeling relatively confident during the second half of the race as many racers had dropped to a walking pace and I was keeping my breathing steady.
Near the last turn, I pushed myself into a faster sprint to cross the finish line with five loved family members there to cheer me on. I immediately walked it off and found a spot in the grass to do my loving stretches to ease my sore muscles.
I finished my race with a 29:01 time, not too shabby for my first 5k.
So....does this mean I actually AM a runner now?