After 6+ years of skating I retired from competitive roller derby in December of 2014. Scared to death I would gain weight by no longer skating 7-10 hours per week (and still carrying some extra baby weight) I decided to take up running. I have never been a fan of running. I was forced to run cross country in high school to keep my spot on the varsity soccer team. BUT I had been inspired by some other derby folks, and I set a New Year’s Resolution – I would run a road race (usually a 5k) each month. It has been 11 months now, and I have kept that resolution! In fact, I am about to complete another long term goal by running my first half-marathon in a couple weeks! AND (added bonus) I have lost 25 pounds!
Columbia QuadSquad is volunteering with Girls on the Run at their annual event on November 21, 2015. Girls on the Run is a positive youth development program for girls between 3rd and 8th grades. In addition to running, this organization teaches young girls to become independent thinkers, enhance problem solving skills, and make healthy decisions. At their 5k event Columbia QuadSquad will be cheering on these young girls while they complete their running goals, and some of us have signed up to be a running buddy which means we will run beside one of the participants.
I am excited to help young girls find the excitement I have found in running, and as I have begun to recruit current and former roller derby skaters to join this event (or otherwise just begin a new form of exercise) I have been asked about my experience running so I have written down some things I have learned about running and myself this year.
1. Beginning: You may want to get a physical before starting an exercise routine. If not, at least start slow. I HIGHLY recommend the Couch to 5K app available for smartphones. It is an interval running program that tells you when to walk and when to run and allows you to play your music.
2. Intervals: By far my biggest recommendation! Interval running means you run a certain distance or time and then walk a certain distance or time. For example, a common interval is to run two minutes, and then walk one minute. You do this repeatedly for the duration of your run. Slowly you will begin to increase those interval times or distances. Interval running is also good for individuals with bad knees which is the case for a lot of us roller derby folk.
3. Goals: Start off by setting some easy goals for yourself like running a certain distance or amount of time and try to better that distance or time each time you run. After spending 6 years in roller derby making rosters, teams, and charters, one of my most favorite things about running is that I am only competing against myself! I only have to do better than I did last time, not better than someone else!
4. Plan: Be sure to set aside certain times of the week for running. The Couch to 5K program is three days per week. If you are like me, if I don’t plan ahead I will find someone reason not to run.
5. Accountability: Find a friend or friends to join you in this activity. Luckily I found several friends as adventurous as me (also former derby skaters)! They keep me accountable by making sure I am running regularly, drinking enough water, eating the right foods, etc. We also run together at least one or twice a week. Another way to keep yourself accountable is to sign up for road races. If you want to better your time each road race, you will need to continue running in between races. I have run a 5k each month and have bettered my time almost (stupid July!) each month. In fact, at my first 5k in January, I finished in 37:45. At my last 5k was in September (I ran a 12k in October) and I finished in 30:50 - I have taken almost seven minutes off my 5k time this year!
6. FUN: I constantly look for ways to make running fun. I switch up where I run, the Dam, Riverfront, various schools, Harbison trails. I switch up the lengths I run and how fast I run. Sometimes I listen to music (and I am not above dancing or doing the Wobble while running) and other times my friends and I talk and even laugh (yep, it can happen) during our runs. In May, I set a goal to run at least a mile every single day. That started a hashtag #amileadayinMay craze. Then there was also #jogginginjune and later #thighgapSeptember.
7. Rewards: At first I hated running. It wasn’t fun. But quickly something changed. I began to get better. I began defeating what my mind said my body couldn’t do. The feeling of accomplishing my goals was empowering. I specifically remember the excitement I had seeing the clock and knowing I was about to kill my goal at the race in February (this was before I had a GPS watch – now I have an idea of my time before I get there – less exciting but better for keeping pace).
Rose E. Riveter
You too can get involved with Girls on the Run! www.GOTRcolumbia.org CQS will see you Nov 21!