Katie Foster went on a 130 pound weight loss journey inspired by running - and she can't wait to help others get into the sport as well.
Don't think running is for you? Think again!
Before I became a runner myself, I always viewed runners as a very elite group of people that I could never fit in with. I was overweight, out of shape, and I had never even run the mile in gym class because I always had excuses not to. After setting a goal to run a 5K race with my friend (at age 28), I started training… and eventually, I realized that I had some how seeped into that “elite” group without even realizing it. And you know what? They were normal people, just like me!
Getting started as a runner can be extremely intimidating. Tempo runs? Yasso-what? How long is a 10K again? And what the heck is a fartlek?
As intimidating as it all sounds, getting started is actually very simple. The most important thing to do before running that first step is getting properly fitted for running shoes. The first time I stepped foot into a running store, I was horribly embarrassed—would they even help a morbidly obese woman find a pair of shoes? I quickly learned that people of ALL shapes, ages,and sizes go to the running store, and the employees were very kind in helping me. There is no need to be embarrassed! The employees should help you find the perfect shoes for you and your goals.
Finding the proper shoes is very important because with the wrong shoes, you are risking injury. Once you have good running shoes, I highly recommend choosing a race to train for (a 5K is a good start). You want to choose a race that will allow you enough time to prepare, but not SO far in the future that you lose all motivation before race day arrives. If you are a total beginner, I would recommend allowing about 3-4 months to prepare.
By signing up for a race, you’ve committed yourself to getting started as a runner. To complete your race, you NEED to train; so, on those days that you just don’t feel motivated, knowing that you have to prepare will get you out the door.
Next, you’ll need to find a training schedule. There are several options here—you could hire a running coach (either in person or online). You could find a plan online that seems to fit your needs. Or you could even makeup your own schedule (although I wouldn’t recommend that).
There are tons of beginner training plans, like the ever popularCouch to 5K plan. Personally, I didn’t like doing run/walk intervals, because I always dreaded the next running segment. I trained in my own way, which worked best for me. (I have since become a certified running coach, and I’ve written a free “Walk to Run” plan that does not use intervals. You can find that plan, as well as tons of running tips, on my blog.)
Once you choose a plan, make sure you stick with it and don’t skip your training runs. The thought of running a 5K will sound nearly impossible at first, but as your body gets more conditioned, it WILL get easier. Just don’t give up! When I first started running, I couldn’t even run the length of my street (about a tenth of a mile); two years later, I ran my first full marathon.
Also, don’t expect to fall in love with running right away. It took me nearly a year of running regularly before I would even call myself a“runner”, because I just didn’t feel worthy of it. If you run, you are a runner, and it doesn’t matter what your pace is! I really disliked running at first, and planned to quit as soon as my 5K was over. However, as many runners will confirm, it’s addicting. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself signing up for a 10K the same day that you cross the finish line for your first 5K!
In summary, to get started as a runner,
1. Get fitted for good running shoes.
2. Choose a race and sign up.
3. Find a coach or training plan.
4. Don’t give up!
Soon, you’ll be part of that “elite” group of people who wakes up crazy early on the weekends to go for a run. And you’ll love it!
Katie Foster writes about life after a 130-pound weight loss on her blog, Runs for Cookies, and her story was recently featured in a documentary called From Fat to Finish Line. She lives in Michigan and is a wife, stay-at-home mom, and dessert lover. She is owned by three cats and a dog, and runs to maintain her sanity (as well as her weight loss).