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Name: merrymishaps (Lauren)
Home: Annapolis, MD, United States
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Thursday, July 23, 2009

running long

Well, the day is almost over, but I wanted to participate anyway. I've missed quite a few 'Take it and Run' Thursdays!

This week's theme is ... Slaying The Long Run Dragon. What are your best tips for getting through the long, hard, hot, hilly, sweaty, torturous but enjoyable runs?
I haven't run more than 16 miles since marathon training in the spring of 2007. But I sure remember those long runs!

It was no accident that we selected a spring marathon. No long runs in the heat and humidity. Though, we did have to run through the rain and snow.

We spend a good amount of time on local trails. As distances got longer, MapMyRun.com became our friend as we charted out 18-mile routes through town. And to keep things interesting, we planned field trips.

We'd pile into a couple cars and drive an hour or so to try some new destinations. We ran on trails that would be too far to travel to for a shorter run ... but if you're going to be out running for four or five hours, why not? (Uh, yeah, we were running for over five hours. We trained up to 24 miles, and we took it slow!)

And, of course, having friends to chat with make those long runs a lot more bearable!


Thursday, May 21, 2009

what to eat?

It's once again time for Take it and Run Thursday over at the Runners Lounge. Though, this week's topic isn't exactly one of my strong points ...

This week's theme is ... Runners version of Eat This Not That. Pass along some of your tips of food you have found helps your running. Tell us about what foods you have cut out or reduced because they don't help your running. And even better, tell us what "good" foods you substitute for the "bad" ones.

I have my favorite pre-run meals like most runners -- usually pasta the night before a big race, and a bagel or toast with peanut butter for breakfast. Other than that, though, I don't really do anything special.

Lately, though, I've been paying a bit more attention to my diet.

My weekly mileage has been higher than usual in the past few months. After the Disney Princess Half Marathon in March, I couldn't really let my mileage slide like I normally would. I ran a 10-mile race in April and have another half next weekend. On top of that, I've started swimming and biking again, to prepare for Iron Girl.

So I've been wondering if I'm eating enough calories and the right balance to support all this activity.

I've gone through a few phases where I've tracked my diet. I usually do it for a while and then get tired of it. I've tried a few sites, but so far I like FitDay the best. You can easily track each workout and see how many calories you've burned for the day. I often view the "Calories Burned vs Eaten" chart to see how I'm doing.

On the main food page, a pie chart gives you the breakdown of carbs, fat and protein consumed for the day. Since I don't eat meat (just fish/seafood), I was a little concerned about getting enough protein. Some days it's kind of low, so I'm glad I'm monitoring it. It helps me plan my next meal or snack.

Just because I'm watching doesn't mean I actually know what I should be eating, though. I still need to do a little research to make sure I'm getting it right!

(Now I'm going to go check out the other TiaRT contributors for some tips!)

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Thursday, May 14, 2009

summer running

This for Take it and Run Thursday at the Runners' Lounge, we're talking about the summer. How do you transition as the weather gets warmer? How do you stay cool as the temperatures rise?

The weather in these parts gets a little weird between seasons. A few weeks ago, it seemed like we skipped spring and went straight to summer. I had to dig out my running skirts and tank tops for a few runs. Not much time for a transition!

And then it got cooler, and I was back in capri tights and jackets.

My past few runs have been perfect. Warm enough for tanks/skirts, but not to hot and low humidity. But I know it won't last. It's only a matter of time until it's hazy, hot and humid.

Once the heat really kicks in, we might just have to slow down and give our bodies some time to adjust. And always drink plenty of fluids!

During one of my first years running, we had a particularly hot summer. I got into the habit of always running with a water bottle. I used to fill a plastic bottle halfway with Gatorade and freeze it, and then top it off with water before my run. The Gatorade would keep the water cold and gradually melt as I needed it.

I haven't done that for a while -- I kind of forgot about it. It's definitely something I should keep in mind when the weather's really miserable.

And for a little post-run refreshment, pack a cooler with some face wipes on ice!

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Thursday, April 23, 2009

marathon madness!

No, I haven't gone mad. Well, not any more so than I already have (ahem, Goofy Challenge).

This week at the Runners' Lounge, the theme for "Take it and Run Thursday" is Boston and Marathon Madness. Runners are sharing their marathon tips and training plans.

I've only run one marathon (so far). And it's unlikely that I'll ever qualify for Boston. But I've been there, so I'll share our plan.

Since we were all first-timers (and some of us were a little reluctant), we were very conservative. We decided we would use the Galloway run/walk method for the race and all our long runs, and figured we'd use his training plan as well.

Only his plan (linked above) has changed a bit since we set up our schedule in late 2006.

I'm not sure which version is better. But I'll probably use one of them as a base for my Goofy training schedule. (I still have a little time before I have to worry about that!)

For our mid-week short runs, we ran Tuesdays and Thursdays, usually three-five miles. People wanting to work on speedier marathons would probably want to add another day or two of running per week, but I'm happy just to finish.

We normally did our long runs on Saturdays. We started a few weeks into the program because all of us had at least a 10K base. And to make it easier for me to type it up, I'm just going to start my training chart there, too.

Week 4 -- 6 Miles
Week 5 -- 7 Miles
Week 6 -- 8 Miles
Week 7 -- 9 Miles
Week 8 -- 10 Miles
Week 9 -- 11-12 Miles
Week 10 -- 6 Miles
Week 11 -- 13-14 Miles
Week 12 -- 7 Miles
Week 13 -- 15-16 Miles
Week 14 -- 8 Miles
Week 15 -- 17-18 Miles
Week 16 -- 8-10 Miles
Week 17 -- 19-20 Miles
Week 18 -- 5K or 8-10 Miles
Week 19 -- 8-9 Miles
Week 20 -- 22-23 Miles
Week 21 -- 5K or 8-10 Miles
Week 22 -- 8-10 Miles
Week 23 -- 24-26 Miles
Week 24 -- 5K or 8-10 Miles
Week 25 -- 8-10 Miles
Week 26 -- Marathon!
I liked the way it alternates longer and shorter runs. Also, I liked that during marathon training, we started thinking of our 10-mile runs as short runs!

We did get in three runs that were 20 miles or above -- we did 20, 22 and 24. I know a lot of people don't train higher than 20, but it was a real confidence booster for us. We were well prepared on race day!

But it was still hard. And it still hurt. Oh well.

I needed a little time before I was ready to sign up for another. But now I'm excited to do it again!

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Thursday, April 09, 2009

running with technology

I've mentioned before how much I love my tech gadgets.

And how convenient .. this week at the Runners' Lounge, the Take it and Run Thursday theme is Running Technology Tips!

garminMy obsession started with my Garmin Forerunner 201, back in March 2005. I suggested that my husband buy it for my birthday. I quickly became addicted.

Ever since, I've used it to track my time and pace. I have it auto-lap every mile so I'd know my splits. I'd download the data to my computer so I can track all of my runs -- I even add notes each week to help me keep track of the mileage on my shoes.

nano with nike+ Last summer, I decided to go one step further, and got a Nano with the Nike+ chip. And I've continued to use both devices. The Nano is a little less accurate some of the time. I did calibrate it to my pace on a track, but I think it gets confused. When I'm running under a 10-minute mile, it usually agrees with the Garmin. But when I'm running 10s or slower (usually on those longer runs), it usually thinks I've gone a bit farther. My last 10-mile run registered at 10.42. My last half marathon was 13.55.

I still love it, though. I can track mileage on the treadmill, which I can't do with my Garmin (some models offer a shoe pod). Plus I like charting my runs on the Nike+ site. I'm usually participating in at least a half-dozen community challenges at a time -- everybody run X miles, fastest 5K, most miles in a month / year, etc. It's fun!

Here are my last five runs:

The only thing I didn't like about my old Garmin was it's interval tracking. When I ran my marathon, we used the Galloway run/walk method. The Garmin 201 does let you set intervals, and while you're tracking your run it gives you your overall mileage. But when you're done, it only keeps the run distance. As long as I keep moving forward, I want those miles to count!

Lately, I've noticed that sometimes when worn in the rain, my old Garmin would get a little water in it. It never stopped working, and the water would dry out. But it got me thinking it might be time to replace it. Especially with another marathon in my schedule. While I may want to try to actually run one straight someday, I think I may have to stick to run/walk intervals for the Goofy Challenge!

So I added this to my Amazon.com wishlist, and hubby came through again.

Garmin 205

The Garmin Forerunner 205. I read a lot of mixed reviews about the 405, plus it costs a lot more. I know the 205 does intervals the way I want them and that's really all I needed. I think it will work better for biking, too.

So far, I really like it. And I've actually learned to use features that the other watch had that I never bothered to figure out -- like custom screens and manual lapping. That's working out great for timing those hill repeats!

Hmm ... It seems I was supposed to be giving out tech tips. Instead I've been telling you about how I use my tech toys.

Well, hopefully I've given you some ideas or helped you make some technology decisions!


Thursday, April 02, 2009

running shoes

This week's theme at the Runners' Lounge "Take it and Run Thursday" is Ode to My Running Shoes.

I was going to write something silly: "Oh, Nike Elite+4, how I love thee ..." but then I saw the catch. We are only allowed to use the same number of words as dollars spent to buy them.

While I don't remember exactly, they retail for $100 on Nike's site so I'm going with that ...

When I first started running, I tried Mizunos. I didn't realize they were the cause of my knee problems until I switched to Asics 2090s. While not perfect, I loved them for not causing any more pain! After two pairs of those I went to the 2110s, with a brief Saucony Hurricane 9 (I think) experiment that did not go well. Back to the 2110s, but still something wasn't quite right.

And then, on a Nike promo night at the running shop, I found them. Nike Elite+ 4. They're light, comfortable, work with my orthotics, and don't cause any pain!

111608 - nike

I'm on my second pair now, and due to buy a third. I had a moment of panic when I didn't see them in my initial scan of Nike's site. The newer version is blue ... but they do have purple on clearance!


Thursday, March 26, 2009

the need for speed

I'm not a particularly fast runner. I'm usually finish races somewhere in the middle of the pack. And generally, I'm fine with that.

But it would be nice to be just a little faster.

This week at the Runners' Lounge, we're discussing tips to satisfy the need for speed. We've been asked to share "a tip, technique, training idea or magical potion" to get faster.

While a magical potion would be nice, I have found there is a simple trick to running faster.

Are you ready?

The secret to running faster ..... is to run faster!

I often find myself getting a little lazy with my running. Sure I'm out there putting in the miles several times a week, but I'm not always challenging myself. I'll just plod along at a comfortable speed.

Sometimes I run with a friend much faster than me. I can't keep up with her, but she turns back whenever she pulls too far ahead. And even though we can't run together, I always have great runs with her. I push myself a little harder, and run a bit faster.

I shocked myself the first time I "chased" her last summer, finishing four hilly miles in 36 minutes. At the time, I didn't think I could run that fast for that long. And it wasn't even that hard!

Not all of my training runs are speedy, but I've been motivated to push myself more often now that I know I can do it.

For the past few weeks, I've been running hill repeats once a week. It's part of our team runs -- for a racing team started by my local running shop. We ran seven hills this week (200 meters up a bridge), and we're working our way up to 12. And then it's time for speed work on the track. Surely this will help my speed as well.

I'm looking forward to all the spring and summer races to see if there's a difference!

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Thursday, March 19, 2009

spring training

A friend recently mentioned in an email that racing season has begun.

Huh? It ends?

Sure, there are fewer races during the winter (I had none in January), but I'm always running and racing year-round.

Thankfully, it is no longer dark out during on weekday-evening runs. We can finally stop running loops around the community college parking lots -- unfortunately one of the only places to run when it's dark. Boring, but safe.

Today we're talking about spring training tips for Take it and Run Thursday at the Runners' Lounge

And to kick off my spring training, I've joined a racing team coached by the owner of my favorite running shop.

Tuesday nights, he's having us do hill workouts. Last week, we ran 200 meters up a bridge at 5K race pace, five times. (Though, we were actually a bit too fast. It was more of a sprint or one-mile race pace!)

This week, we did six, and we'll add a hill each week until we get to 12. (I'm predicting we will no longer be sprinting at this point.) We will then move to the track for speed work.

In the past, I've done occasional hilly runs. Or occasional track work. This is the first time I've attempted to add them to my schedule regularly. I'm interested to see if it works!

For people that are just starting to run, look for beginner programs in your area. It's much easier to start when you've got lots of company.

Look up running clubs in your area. It's likely they'll have a 'start to run' program in the spring. Our club's program starts at the end of April, and gradually takes class members from walking to running, with a graduation 5K in July.

Come on ... anybody can do it.

Get out there, and enjoy the spring weather!

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Thursday, February 26, 2009

a goofy plan

I may have mentioned that I signed up for the Goofy Challenge taking place January 2010.

For anybody that doesn't know ... this is the "Goofy's Race and a Half Challenge" event that is a part of the Disney World Marathon Weekend.

Goofy participants run not only the full marathon (26.2 miles) on Sunday, they run the half marathon (13.1 miles) the day before.

That's just goofy. But I've signed up for it. (And you can too -- hurry, it's 85% full!)

I don't really have to start training until late summer, but it's something I'll be thinking about until then.

This week at the Runners' Lounge, the Take It and Run Thursday theme is Backwards TIaRT. So it's time for me to ask my fellow runners a question.

This question is for past Goofy participants and ultra-marathoners.

How do I train for this challenge?

I've been thinking about merging half marathon and full marathon training plans, with the shorter run on Saturday and the longer run on Sunday. I probably won't do double runs every weekend, but since full marathon training takes a lot longer I have some room to space them out.

Though maybe I should start getting used to running twice in a row before the distance gets too high?

What do you think?

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Thursday, February 12, 2009


Today at the Runners' Lounge Take it and Run Thursday, the theme is stretching.

We were asked to pick just one stretch that helps us with our running.

I'm sure everyone has a different favorite. For me, the standing quad stretch is most effective.

I was looking to embed a YouTube video, but many of the ones I found were too long and/or the instructors were doing it wrong!

Many runners do it wrong, too. I linked to an example on SparkPeople above because I liked their description:

Reach back and grab your left foot in your left hand, keeping your thighs lined up next to each other and left leg in line with the hip (not pulled back behind you).

Breathe deeply and hold for 10-30 seconds. Repeat on opposite side.
People often will pull the bent leg back or to the side, when it should be pointed down, with both thighs parallel.

Another option I've seen is to grab the opposite foot -- left foot with right hand / right foot with left hand. I prefer using the same side. I don't get as good of a stretch with opposites.

I tend to have knee problems due to a grab-bag of biomechanical problems. The last time it flared up, a friend of mine (who happens to be a physical therapist and had treated me for a while during and after marathon training) immediately knew what was wrong. Gotta love free advice!

She suggested doing the quad stretch (along with another hip stretch) more often -- not just when exercising. Problem solved!

I don't always do a full stretch routine before and after my runs, but this one is a must for me!

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Thursday, January 29, 2009

26.2 miles

OK, so it's almost not Thursday anymore, but I still wanted to participate in Take it and Run Thursday over at the Runners' Lounge. This week's theme is the Marathon Explained.

What attracts us to marathons? Why do we run them?

Souvenir bracelet from my first marathon

Well, peer pressure eventually got me to sign up for my first (and so far, only) marathon! But that, of course, is not the only reason.

I liked the challenge. It was something really hard, but something that I could accomplish. With some pain, yes, but I crossed that finish line with a smile on my face.

It took a little while to be ready, but now I am officially signed up for another.

I decided to challenge myself a little more this time. I'll be running a half marathon the day before!

Yes, I'm registered for the Goofy Challenge in 2010.

Uh, why was that again?

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Thursday, January 22, 2009

13.1 miles

This week's "Take it and Run Thursday" theme at the Runners' Lounge is How to Run Your Best Half Marathon in 2009.

I love half marathons.

Unlike 5K/10K races, which I'm pretty much prepared to run at any time, half marathons require some training. The distance is long enough to be be challenging, but the training isn't too difficult. At least not anymore -- ever since I ran a full marathon in 2007, getting ready for a half has been a piece of cake!

However, I'm not usually as prepared for my races as I should be.

I trained for my first half through the winter. The race was in early March, and was almost canceled due to snow. (The trail was cleared by race day and all was good.)

I think snow and ice may have disrupted our training plans. Maybe there were some injuries that held us back. Or maybe it was just poor planning. But we only trained up to nine miles.

That might have been OK if I had run that distance more than once, but I think I probably had only a couple runs at eight or nine. I sure felt my lack of training on race day. By the time I had passed my nine-mile base, everything hurt. But I still made it to the finish, smiling through the pain.

My first half - still smiling!

For the six other half marathons I have completed, most of the time I've managed to train up to 10 miles at least once. But I rarely have gotten that far a second time. Sometimes I only got up to eight or nine. I've always finished my races feeling OK, but not without pain and soreness!

The only half I've come away from feeling great is the one I completed four months after the marathon. I did let my mileage drop a bit between the races, and probably got my usual one or two nine or 10 mile runs prior to race day. But my body still remembered how to run that far!

As I train for the Disney Princesses Half Marathon in March, my eighth, I'm going to be more prepared.

I'm training with a class offered by my local running club. (Conveniently, our club's half marathon that the majority of my classmates are training for is one week before mine.) We have a training schedule and I'm sticking to it.

Sure, I could make one on my own. But with only a few of my running friends running half marathons as well, I'd have to add extra miles when everybody else was done. And that's no fun. Especially when we go to breakfast on weekend mornings.

And I probably wouldn't have given myself enough time to get comfortable with the longer distances.

The class has us running 10 miles for the next two weekends. Followed by two 12-mile weekends. (Well, I can't make it to class the day of the second 10-miler, but I'll still be fine.)

Will I have my best half marathon yet? Well, it might not be the fastest. I expect crowds and photo opps may slow me down in Disney.

But (knock on wood) I hope I'll be feeling great as I cross the finish line!

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Thursday, January 15, 2009

5K/10K racing

Today's "Take It and Run Thursday" theme over at the Runners' Lounge is 5Ks and 10Ks.

I run a lot of these shorter races. My mileage is usually up to at least six miles at any given time, so they're always comfortable distances. I can sign up for one spur of the moment and do just fine.

Racing is good because it'll keep you from getting in a training rut. Even if you're not increasing mileage for a half marathon or longer race, throwing in some shorter races is a good change of pace. Even in small "fun runs," there's still an adrenaline rush when the race begins. You give yourself a little extra push when you know you're being timed!

While I race year-round, I tend to run quite a few 5Ks in the summer. The RRCA in Maryland sponsors a Women's Distance Festival each year from May through August. Running clubs in Maryland, DC and Northern Virginia host 5Ks for women only (some offer separate men's runs). And if you run at least four in a season, you get an award. Past prizes have been things like duffel bags, running hats, and custom pottery.

One of my favorite races from this series is the one hosted by the Reston Runners in Reston, VA. It's a bit of a drive for us -- it's always a bit weird when the drive takes longer than the run -- but that club puts on a great race. It's a really nice run with inspirational quotes along the course. The men from the club are cheerleaders and stretching coaches dressed in grass skirts and coconut bras. And it doesn't hurt that there are great premiums. Last year we got a soft lunch cooler, beach towel, running socks and a hat!

If you're a new runner or interested in starting, I wrote a post last summer for "Take it and Run Thursday" with 5K/10K training tips. Or head on over to the Runners' Lounge and see what the other runners have to say!

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Thursday, January 01, 2009

running favorites from 2008

The past few months have been a bit busy, and I haven't been participating over at The Runners' Lounge. I hope to be less of a stranger now that holiday concert season is over!

For today's Take It and Run Thursday, they're looking for our favorite post from 2008.

I've never been good with favorites. I couldn't choose just one!

My favorite running post: The Reluctant Marathoner

My favorite gadgets: Raising the Dork Level

My favorite accomplishment for 2008: Race Report: Iron Girl Triathlon

And of course, I'm looking forward to a new year with my favorite running community!

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Thursday, August 07, 2008

six words

This is for Take It and Run Thursday: Six Word Running Memoir at the Runners' Lounge.

I've only been running for about four years. Why did I start?

My good metabolism won't last forever!

Growing up, I never had to worry much about my weight. In my late 20s I was still doing fine, but I had been warned about post-30 weight gain. I figured I should probably get my butt moving!

During one of my first long races, late August in Maryland, I distinctly remember this thought crossing my mind:

Why am I doing this again?

This one has come back to me quite a few times!

But really, I'm running because I love it, it's good exercise, and great stress relief.

I also like to challenge myself. Last year was a marathon. This year will be a triathlon (in ~2 weeks. Ahh!)

Where will running take me next?

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Thursday, July 24, 2008

think positive

This is for Take it and Run Thursday: Overcoming the Tough Stuff.

On Sunday, we ran a preview of the run portion of the Iron Girl triathlon. It was after a full day of lecture and activity, which included a spin class that took us on a virtual tour of the bike portion.

It was still over 90 degrees and the sun was still beating down on us when we started the course around 5:30 p.m. Sun and shade alternated along the course, and the hills were numerous.

Coach Troy was the workshop leader, and at one point he asked how I was doing. I'm sure I had a not-so-positive response, such as "I don't think my legs will let me do too many more hills."

He replied, "We can do a lot more than we think we can."

We had to face one very large hill after quite a few were already behind us. We were in the sun, and I really wanted to walk.

And then I looked down. "You can do it!" was spray-painted onto the path about halfway up.*

"No, path, I can't!" I thought, but kept going anyway. And I made it to the top channeling the little engine that could.

I kept running during the hills that followed as well. I finally broke for a walk break after a stretch in the sun. The heat was starting to get to me, but I was almost done. I picked it back up again after a few sips from my water bottle.

I'm pretty sure if that path wasn't marked, I would have taken a break instead. That statement kept me going.

Think positive. You can do it!

We can do more than we think we can!

* Now that I think about it, it may have said "Yes you can!" on the hill. Either way, my response was the same!

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Thursday, July 03, 2008

running shirts

This is for Take It and Run Thursday: Running T-Shirts.

There are a lot of great shirts there. Every time I see their booth at a race expo, One More Mile has added to their line. (Ha ha, "Toenails are for Sissies!") At every big race, somebody's shirt/attire catches my eye.

My friends like to have shirts printed up for when there are a number of people traveling for a race. I have two of these "homemade" creations.

The first was for my marathon last year. Obviously, we ran the Flying Pig Marathon.

flying pig marathon
(Large image on the back, small image on the front)

Now ... this next one, for the Philadelphia Distance Festival 1/2 marathon, was NOT my idea. But, they made one for me. My name was ironed onto the front.

And actually, it was pretty fun wearing it. We were making people laugh!

philadelphia distance festival
(Back of the shirt)

I like to think they were laughing with us!

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Thursday, June 26, 2008

i am a runner

This is for Take It and Run Thursday: You Are A Runner.

Today's theme is to finish this thought in 13 words or less:

"You are a runner...."

My response:

For my health. For stress relief. And my legs have never looked better!

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Thursday, June 19, 2008

5K/10K training

This is for Take It and Run Thursday: Tips for 5Ks and 10Ks.

It's been a long time since I've actually trained for a 5K or 10K race. My weekday runs are never shorter than three miles. On weekends, we'll average six or eight miles when we're not training for a longer race.

But that wasn't always the case.

When I first started running, I didn't do it alone. My town has a running club that holds a beginning runner program twice a year. It's a 10-week program that starts with mostly walking, gradually increasing the running until the class is running non-stop. They have a graduation 5K after the last class.

If you're thinking about starting to run, see if there's a similar program near you. Most counties in our area have running clubs. Even if they don't have beginner programs, they get together for group runs and offer support.

In the fall, our club offers a 10K class. Years ago, I was a member after my 5K graduation. Now, I act as a mentor for class members. We run with the class and offer advice and inspiration.

We start the class with about a 5K distance, and gradually increase up to the full 6.2 miles. We'll throw in hills, tempo runs and fartleks as well. It's good for us "graduates" to keep coming back to help -- we're getting something out of it too!

I like the social aspect of the group, and I met most of my regular running buddies through the training classes. But some people are happier as solo runners.

If you're training on your own, find a plan that will help you safely build up your running. Many injuries are a result of overtraining or increasing mileage too quickly.

We used Jeff Galloway's run/walk method for our marathon, but he also has 5K and 10K plans. Even if you don't run/walk, it's a good guide.

Runner's World has an eight-week beginner program that looks similar to what I did when I started out.

Remember -- these are just guidelines. If you're having a bad day or feeling pain, it's OK to skip a run or repeat a week.

There are lots of 5K races all summer long, most fundraisers for worthy causes. If you're intimidated, look for one marketed as a "Fun Run" or "Run/Walk" -- these will be low-key, and a mix of runners and walkers.

Even if you're a new or non-competitive runner, give one a try!

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