- My First 5K
by Shelley English
I’m very exited to introduce Life Up and Running. The purpose of this blog is to provide a space to share stories, tips and inspiration for staying active. In addition to my own experiences, you’ll hear from my running buddies, mentors and acquaintances. I hope to share advice from experts on training and physical, mental and spiritual health. And, an active lifestyle doesn’t only refer to exercise, so there will be information about all kinds of events. So I hope this blog will be something you enjoy and look forward to, and will contribute to, as well. Comments are welcome.
From Band Mom to Runner
Let me begin by sharing some of my background as an “active adult”. Candidly, up until almost five years ago, I wasn’t all that active – or all that adult, for that matter. Unless, that is, by “active” you mean being a Band Mom, and by “adult” you mean working full-time and facebooking over wine every Friday night.
I had been a smoker since college (yes, old enough to know better, young enough to think it was still cool and wouldn’t hurt me)! While I had made many attempts to quit over the years, the demon persisted. I’m almost ashamed to share what finally worked. The success coincided with purchasing my very first brand new car on my own. I had not smoked in a car in years, but the smell of cigarettes lingers on the clothing of any smoker, and it became all the more apparent to me when getting behind the wheel of a brand new car. Not wanting to cause premature loss of new car smell, I kicked the habit. I was able to call myself a nonsmoker before the first car payment came due.
A few months after that, I decided I may as well use the gym membership I’d been paying for but hadn’t used since my daughter graduated from high school (we had enrolled together to help her finish her physical education requirement). Then, I figured I may as well take advantage of the trainer’s evaluation and recommendations offered. I started taking Zumba and strength training classes, and of course, used the treadmill. I followed the trainer’s recommendations almost religiously.
When it came to the treadmill, my trainer had only recommended that I walk a certain amount of time to get my heart rate up. Running was never part of the training plan. But walking on the treadmill is not very exciting, so music was critical. And the musician in me insisted on keeping time with the beat. So one day I was walking along to my favorite 80’s mix, and “Bad Reputation” by Joan Jett & The Blackhearts came up on my playlist. That’s a fast tempo, but I decided to see how long I could pick up the pace. I don’t think I was able to jog the entire song, but I do remember being surprised that I was able to keep up for the amount of time I did … I recall thinking to myself, in awe “I am running!”
The bug had bitten, and a new fever was beginning to rise.
After a few successful trial runs on the treadmill (meaning, I’m sure, two minutes without collapsing), I began to gain confidence that I could learn to be a runner. I set my sights on an upcoming community 5K benefit run, and downloaded an app to my phone to help me gradually train from walking to running for 30 minutes. My self-training began. The gym was two miles from my house, so on Saturdays I would jog to my strength-training class. Then after my class, I called my daughter to pick me up, because running home would mean running uphill!
The First 5K
As race day grew closer, I recruited a friend to run with me. We met at packet pickup, planned our wardrobes, and when the day arrived, we were ready! My friend had more experience than I did, and I encouraged her not to wait for me…”run your own race” is a motto I adopted early on! I didn’t run all 3.1 miles, but I did run more than half of the race, and under the 45 minutes I had set as my goal! And I felt fantastic! At age 45, I had completed my first 5K!
As we were leaving, I noticed a table where they were handing out flyers for another 5K the following month. I picked up a flyer and decided hey, I think I can do one of these a month! So I made that my goal, a 5K every month.
Soon I was running distances beyond the 3.1, and up an over hills I never thought I’d attempt. I’ve completed eight half marathons, and I hope to keep moving for many more years to come. And, most importantly, the running community has introduced me to some of the nicest, most generous and real people I’ve ever known…many of whom I can’t wait to introduce here in this space!