I’m so proud of my niece. She flat inspires me. Maybe she will inspire you too.
Elizabeth is in her 20s, and was a champ athlete through high school and college. A swimmer. That means she trained hard starting early and ending late, for years. It’s very hard work, competitive swimming. She fell in love with and married Dave, another athlete from college, a year and a half ago.
They moved to Pittsburgh and began looking for jobs. In the meantime their athletic careers stopped abruptly. That is, Elizabeth’s metabolism took a hit.
So, she spent her days reading the want ads and slowly putting on weight. She decided she needed a hobby, something else to focus on, and she needed to find another way to keep fit. She put the two together, and took up running as a hobby.
Now, for me, a hobby is something that involves glue, yarn, or paint. To turn running into a hobby is a far stretch in my world view. But I asked Elizabeth to write and tell me how she did it, what she does, and here’s her answer:
“I never ran other than a few miles and a few sprints in HS swimming and a few times in college. And I NEVER liked it. But I visited coolrunning.com. That is where I met my coach.
“On the newbie part of the website you can request a mentor. I did, and the next day I got an e-mail from Coach Bill, a running coach in Texas. He has helped me a lot and even offered to run the Pittsburgh Marathon with me, which is May 4th. I signed up for it months ago so I would be committed. He made up a training plan on Excel for me, and I follow it diligently.
“I also read “No Need for Speed” by John “Penguin” Bisham…. he also has a good website. I read books on marathon running and subscribe to Runners World.
“Every Saturday I run with a group. That makes the long runs (anything over 5 miles for me right now is long). I will do my first 10-mile run this Saturday. The cold weather is brutal, but I am getting used to it.
“I ran 9.25 last weekend and met a new friend who encouraged me thru the run. He is a coach for Team in Training (they raise $ for the Leukemia/Lymphoma society, running in exotic places). My running friends are incredibly supportive. Most of the people in the group are over 40 and men. There is one other woman. They are all much faster than I am, and sometimes that is hard for me, because I am so competitive. During the week I run alone. Altogether I run 5-6 days per week.
So, today Elizabeth is part of two running groups, a local group in Pittsburgh, and Team Woodlands, a Texan running team coached by her online coach, Bill. Bill copies her in on all the e-mails and training tips for the larger team, and coaches her individually, too. Here are some of the things she’s learned from Coach Bill:
* First rule, make sure you have fun.
* Make sure you’re safe, know the area, tell someone where and when you’re running. Best of all run with someone.
* Run minutes, not miles. Run 40 minutes instead of 4 miles. It’s easier on you. If you have a bad day, you still ran 40 minutes, maybe you didn’t go as far, but it really doesn’t matter. Every day is a success this way.
* Don’t do any intervals on the track until you have run consistently for at a minimum of 6 months. Intervals should be considered “pace work” not “speed work.”
* Everyone is different. Use any program as a guideline only. You are unique in your physical and mental make up. You will find what works best for you over time.
* Keep a log book to keep a record of workouts you have completed and how you feel. (Ed note: See? Everyone loves a journal.)
* Try to find a 5K to run. This is a good test of your fitness level and gives you an idea of what to expect in a 10K. I like 5Ks. They don’t wear you out. If you can find one, run it like you run your workouts, don’t race it. If you feel good with a mile to go, then kick it in a bit.
* Remember, run safely.
Now, I know, she’s in her 20s and has always been an accomplished athlete, so this should be easy for her, right? Well, it’s not. Ask any tri-athlete how uncoordinated and out of shape they felt the first time they started working outside of their familiar sport.
I know when she started running, Elizabeth could not have imagined herself running 10 miles. She’s running that today. It’s very cold out. And she’s out there doing it. Now, she’s tough, has always been tough, but there was always a reason for her toughness. there was a scholarship at stake, or other pressures or expectations. Not anymore. Now she’s running for herself, because she likes it and likes the way it makes her feel.
I mean, you know, Wow. I’d like to get me a pinch of THAT.
Here’s wishing you all a pinch of that,