Yo-Yo Run: A Tale of a Chronic Yo-Yo Running Mommy
Running and I have, at best, a “love hate” relationship, though most times it feels more like a “hate hate” one. My history of running is equivalent to the ultimate yo-yo diet; I would start and stop over and over again for years. Running in my mind was viewed as either a means to an end primarily focused on weight loss, or as punishment. Think of those shirts we’ve all seen cross country runners wear, “My sport is your sport's punishment.” That was my mindset.
This up and down relationship has plagued me for years. I would get the running bug, go all out and then burnout within a couple of weeks. Sometimes I would stick with it for a few months; this usually was when I was crazy enough to sign up for a race. I would think to myself, “I need motivation; I’m going to do a [insert distance here] race!” Sadly for me, this seemed to only diminish the chances of keeping running as a lifestyle. Running immediately felt like an obligation and the minute I crossed the finish line I was done. After the race my self- proclaimed well deserved break would quickly turn into a month, then 2, then 3…and you get the picture! You’d think I would have learned my lesson after the first time, but I’m stubborn. Since I would use the race as a short term motivational goal, yet still have insanely high expectations of myself, I would typically enter the race feeling undertrained and mentally ill equipped for what I was about to do. With that sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach, I would convince myself that all I want to do is finish. A perfect example of this is the (one and only) marathon I completed. As race time drew near, I began to despise running, but I had signed up, so I was committed. I went into the race ‘jokingly’ saying, “All I want to do is finish.” I did finish, but it was not my proudest moment feeling that I had not truly put in everything I could have into that race. High level athletes know that while we may pay lip service to this idea of just getting it done, rarely does it provide the desired satisfaction or the motivation to try again.
So here we are, tangoing with running once more. After reading above, you think, well what’s changed? Why is this time going to be different? You say, she thinks it’ll change because she’s decided (in a moment of craziness) to announce this plan on Tenacity’s blog and now have to be accountable?! Hmm. Good to questions. While I can’t guarantee that this won’t be a bust, I can tell you where I’m at now.
Why did I decide to do it this time around?
Just over a year ago I had our daughter, E. She’s amazing! Thankfully after a relatively easy pregnancy and birth I was ready to jump right into running after the mandatory 6 weeks “off”. Yup, you already know where this is going. I stuck with running for a couple of months before… we’ll say, life got too busy or it was too hot (I mean we do live in an arid desert, so that counts right?!) or, or, or. So anyways, that was short lived.
To help get back on track with my overall health I took up doing yoga and loved it, especially utilizing YouTube in the winter. As spring has sprung around us, I want to get E outside, now that she is big enough to sit in the stroller and see what is around her. Let her experience the glorious fresh air and sights. What better way to do this than with me getting a little bit of exercise and run?!
This is the first time this isn’t a “means to an end”, I want it to become lifestyle and without a “deadline” I can take my time making the small changes. Time will tell if this sticks, but I at least have to try. There is always the added bonus that I won’t have as much guilt drinking a glass of Fri-yay champagne! Cheers!
Here is how I’m hoping to make it stick and some tips you might use too!
1. Start slow: When I say start slow, I mean S-L-O-W…. As I said above, historically I have started running, done too much too fast and have either burned out or gotten injured. This time around, I started slow both in physical speed but also in the number of times per week. I set my goals for 2 times per week and began a walk/run alternating pace on a choose route. My chosen route was about 2 miles total. I began with 30 second run followed by 1 minute walk. This allowed my body to begin to build the cardiovascular and muscular strength I was lacking in. After a few weeks of this pace, I increased my days to 3 per week, keeping with the same alternation of walking and running and roughly the same distance. On days I felt stronger I would increase the running time to 45 seconds running and 1 minute walking. A few weeks later, I felt good enough to try running the 2 miles and to my surprise I did it and felt great after! I was even looking forward to running again in the week, something that has rarely happened. Now, I am a full couple of months into this and will on average run 3 times per week at about 2 miles but have run as far as 4. Too many big changes all at once will almost always lead to failure, so take it slow. Remember a mile is still a mile, no matter if you run it in 7 minutes or 12!
2. Motivation: What’s your motivation for running? As I mentioned above, my reasons for running have varied in the past, but typically revolved around weight loss. This time around my motivation had shifted; I want to be a role model for my daughter. I want to show her that I can be mom and take care of myself, because I know that the happier and healthier I am the better for everyone in the family. I also figure it’s a great way to get her outside and when she starts running around (which will be soon!) I can at least catch her!
3. Get a buddy, but know thyself: Read almost any article about beginning running and it’ll tell you to get a running buddy. Get someone in your neighborhood, run with a friend, or even join a running group! (If you are looking for running groups in your area check Facebook, your local running stores, or even around here the breweries usually have once a week running clubs that ends with beer!) Its great advice, you have someone to hold you accountable while you run. So why do I say know thyself? Because, sometimes the greatest advice just doesn’t work for you. I know that I don’t like to have to drive anywhere to workout (hence why I’m not at the gym), since there are no other runners in my neighborhood, finding a running buddy takes a bit of creativity. I designated my daughter as my running buddy or “run squad” as I call her. This helps reinforce my motivation and reason for running, as well as provides some accountability. While she doesn’t talk back yet or remind me to go running, she will happily go over to the shoe rack and pull down my running shoes to show me she is ready to roll!
4. Breathing: In all my years of sport, I realized I never learned how to breathe for running. Yes, it is different from normal breathing. There are wonderful resources out there regarding different schools of thoughts and you may have to try out a few to find one that works for you. While I won’t get in to my specific breathing patterns here, I will say that learning how to breathe while running has helped to make the entire exercise more productive and enjoyable. Breathing enables your body to take in enough oxygen to power to your muscles as you run. This seems easy at first, but as your muscles expend oxygen faster than you are supplying it to them due to poor transfer, running becomes harder and harder. Most people will get tired regardless of breathing as they run; proper breathing will help you to go farther, faster.
5. Equipment: Here is the nice thing about running; to get started there isn’t a ton of fancy equipment. Truly all you need is a pair of shoes and some water. As you start I would suggested shoes will a good sole and support, though they do not have to anything fancy. When you really get into it you can go to a running store and get fitted for shoes based on your foot, gate, running style and terrain. There are always cute outfits to get and high-tech gear to invest in, but I’d save until you really get into it.