I want to say the same thing to people who tell me that they CAN’T change their diet or that they CAN’T lose weight. LIARS. Sorry, not really trying to be mean….. And it’s not something I tell people to their face, but hey, this is a blog AND I’ve been there and I did all of that. So if I can do it, you can too.
It’s Somer Saturday and I have a confession to make.
I’m not a good runner. Even more shocking: I used to hate running! I thought that those that could run belonged to some sort of privileged genetic gene pool. Then I gained 100 lbs because of health issues 5 years ago and needed to figure out how lose it. (Sorry, many of you have seen this photo before and it’s not pleasant).
I knew that running burned more calories than almost every other exercise so I grudgingly decided to give it a go. I COULD NOT RUN FOR 5 MINUTES STRAIGHT the first time I tried, but I was determined to lose the weight so I persevered. It took me a whole month of trying 5 days a week before I could run a mile without stopping to walk.
Then something magical happened. I was able to run for 20 minutes, then 30, then 45. Eventually one day I ran for an hour. I thought, wow, maybe I can run a half marathon. Then three months later I did. And I ran the whole time.
Since then I have run up to 4 races a year, mostly half marathons and Ragnar Relays. Having a race on the schedule keeps me training. Although I have learned to love running, I don’t run anymore for weight maintenance, my whole-foods, plant-based diet takes care of that. I run for sanity. I found running to be an amazing form of therapy. When struggling through a trial of some sort, I can’t count the number of times I have shed tears during a run only to come home feeling whole. There is something therapeutic about pounding out the pavement or a trail mile after mile. Running is an incredible stress reliever, especially if you are able to get off main roads and get closer to nature.
I know lots of people who say they can’t run, or will only dabble occasionally in a 5k. Well since I can’t help being a missionary for the things I love the most (ahem, plant-based diet, I want to convert the world) I obviously try to encourage people to give it a go. My friends: Angie, Mandy, Shantelle, Heather, Michelle and Keri (there are others, but I think they would prefer not to be named) have all told me at one time or another that they can’t really run. I basically told them they were full of crap. All of these ladies have since gone on to run a half marathon or further. Some of them were even on my Ragnar Relay team last year.
All continue to run, and enjoy it. Dare I say that most of these girls are faster than me? (It’s true, I’m about a solid 10 minute pace, probably will always be because I don’t put enough effort into speed work). Now I know there are those of you who have really, really tried your hand at running, and it’s just not your thing – that’s okay! I’m all about yoga, spin, Pilates and strength training…..in addition to running. My friend Tyler is running his first half-marathon this weekend and has lost 50 lbs during the training process. Let that be motivation for you!
Here are some tips to help you if you want to get started:
1. Get out your dang Ipod and put together an awesome high energy playlist. Here are some playlist ideas. Without music I’m sloppy and unmotivated, when I get the tunes going and I turn into the energizer bunny. Remember to keep it charged. There is nothing like being out at mile 5 on a 10 miler and having your ipod die!
2. Buy some real running clothes for every type of weather, wear synthetic socks and get fitted at a running store for real running shoes. Cotton chafes people. Ouch. You may also want to invest in some reflective gear and a headlamp so you don’t get hit by a car if you want to run before the sun comes up or after it goes down. If you have specific questions about gear, comment below, I have an obsession with running clothes/tech items and can probably answer any question you might have 😉
3. Start slow, running does not mean sprinting, although that’s sometimes fun too, especially into a finish line. In the beginning do lots of walk-running and gradually increase the running part. Don’t increase your mileage more then 10% a week or you will get injured and stop liking running.
4. Get outdoors. Treadmill is how I started running, now I can hardly stand it. Going somewhere while you are running helps you feel more human and less guinea pig. It also connects you to the earth.
5. Stay hydrated and fuel properly. I used to carry a handheld camel-back water holster but after 5 or so miles I wanted to chuck it in the bushes. Now I use a fuel-belt and love it, you may have to wear it high on your waist so it doesn’t bounce- plus it has a little pouch where I can fit my gels and burts bee’s chapstick. Good fuel choices are crucial – Clif shot is my favorite commercial variety because it has the simplest ingredient list, I usually abstain from caffeine, but while running I choose the caffeinated variety. I have started to pack Justin’s Nut Butter’s and am enjoying a change of pace. This weekend during my half marathon I will be fueling with a homemade blends of sports drinks and gels, recipes here at the end of this post, from Vegan Triathlete Brendan Brazier’s book “Thrive”.
6. Find a friend, or shall I say, a partner in crime? The majority of my consistency has come from knowing my buddy is going to be there. Otherwise most mornings I would probably be pushing the snooze alarm and wake up an hour (or two) later. Buddies are also good for the old safety in numbers rule, especially for us ladies: there have been multiple rapes of runners in the news lately. Aparently there are lots of ratbags our there. I can’t post the names I would like to call them on this blog! They stake out running trails in search of solitary females. So really, grab a partner. I have a select few running buddies, but this guy is one of my favorites. He never complains, and he still is smiling at mile 10. He even pulls me up the hills, literally. Aren’t I Lucky? (Sorry, he is blurry, he doesn’t know how to hold still).
7. Even if you don’t feel like going out, lace up those shoes. I have never regretted going running. I ALWAYS come home more positive and happy (okay, except for that one time when I got caught mid-run in a hail storm and had welts all over my body and face for a week). My friend Christina’s blog header says: “You often regret the runs you don’t do, but rarely regret the runs you do. Happy Running!” SO TRUE!
8. Run first in the morning if you can – if you think you’ll run later, something almost always gets in the way and throws you off track. Believe me, I know.
9. Get a running hero to think about while you run. Someone that you admire. I have many including family members and friends, but here are some that are a little more famous that you can idolize too: Scott Jurek, the vegan ultra-runner who is fuels his 100 mile plus runs on a purely plant based diet, radical. Ryan hall, who can run a 4:45 pace for most of 26.2, has the form of a gazelle and is unabashadly spiritual as well. Kara Goucher, can I have your form, speed and body? And then the totally legit hero, Amy Palermo-Winters, seriously people, she runs ultras with only one leg…. Again, don’t tell me you can’t run.
10. Have fun. No, really – whenever I get too serious about running is when I don’t like it. If I have high expectations of myself and I fail or don’t get the time I wanted at a race, I am miserable. So tomorrow, as I run my first half marathon of the year, that’s exactly what I’m going to do. HAVE FUN. I’m not bringing my Garmin (although it’s awesome). I’m not running with a pacer group, and I’m not trying to beat 2 hours….yet again (my fastest time is 2:03, that 2 hour mark is an elusive creature). I’m just going to enjoy it. Cause I love to run!
This is going to be my real first plant-based race – so here is a simple Pre-Race Pizza recipe for you to enjoy! (I had made Leftoverlicious Lentil Casserole in the crock-pot, from Little Sis at mysisterspantry.wordpress.com, but it is going to have to be eaten as leftovers tomorrow post-race because my hubby wanted pizza 😉 Of course I had to oblige.
2 prepared whole wheat pizza crusts – I had organic ones from whole foods, you could easily make your own, but I was in a hurry
1 small can organic tomato paste
1 block tofu
1/4 C. raw cashews
1/4 C. nutritional yeast
1/4 C. unsweetened almond or soy milk
toppings: organic baby spinach, artichoke hearts in brine, kalamata olives, diced tomatoes
Method: Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Spread each crust with half the tomato paste. Sprinkle with garlic salt and italian seasonings to taste. Next add tofu, nutritional yeast, raw cashews and almond milk to high powered blender or food processor. Alternately pulse and scrape down the sides until well combined. Add garlic salt to taste and pulse a few more times. Spread half of each crust with the “white cheez sauce.” Sprinkle with spinach, artichokes, tomatoes and kalamata olives. Bake for 10 minutes. Serve.
Oh and still think you can’t run… Really? Well watch this and think again.
Still need more motivation? Read this post. If you really make an attempt at running for the right reasons, run 3-6 months and complete a half marathon and still don’t like running, then it may really not be your thing. But how do you know until you try?
Update: Finished the race today 3 minutes faster then last years race on the same course with far less training.