Friday, February 19, 2016

How I Got Into Running and Fitness

Hey Everyone! I want to take a quick moment to welcome visitors from the Health and Fitness Blog Hop hosted by Kristy at the Runaway Bridal Planner. And for all you who stop by my blog regularly, thank you! In case you are curious about what a Blog Hop is, you can find more details on Kristy's blog. But a quick summary is that it provides an opportunity to meet new bloggers/blogs. It's all about relationships!

Since I'm just meeting some of you, I thought I'd do a post about how I got into running and fitness. When people meet me they often assume I've always loved working out. But that couldn't be further from the truth. In fact, I used to despise sweating! The only exercise I did was dancing in bars and clubs on the weekends.   

I also lifted a lot of weights - I mean cocktails ;)

But that changed after joining a gym. My first gym was a local Bally's and through their group exercise classes I realized how much fun I could have while exercising. I made some wonderful friends through the classes and started working with a personal trainer who is a runner and triathlete. Learning about the endurance athlete lifestyle from her was like learning about a foreign culture. I scoffed at the idea of going to bed early and waking up before the crack of dawn to train. I exercised purely for the social aspect and so I could fit in my favorite jeans. 

But eventually I was sucked into running. A few coworkers and I signed up to run the Indoor Marathon Relay. My team decided we would run one mile at a time, which seemed pretty easy. Anna, my trainer, gave me a training plan - which I followed for about two weeks before deciding I didn't need to train to run a mile. My gym bestie, Julie, ended up replacing one of the team members and her and I would 'train' on the gym treadmills by running one mile as fast as we could - usually in the 8-minute mile range. We thought we were soooo fast ;) And of course we didn't take into account that even if we could run one mile at 8 minute pace it didn't mean we could run that pace throughout the race. So during the race we were hurting, and we didn't keep track of how many laps we ran so our team ended up running extra. Haha. 

I was super sore after the race but I had so much fun. It got me thinking that maybe I could do another race. I was still pretty clueless and for some reason got it stuck in my head that my goal should be to run a 5k in 25 minutes. So I ran my first 5k race - a small 5k at the local zoo in the middle of May. It was probably upper 50s, low 60s at the start but being a running newbie I thought I needed to layer up since I was chilly before the start. Oh, and I pinned my bib to my back. I roasted throughout the race and was drenched in sweat by the end. It was horrible, and I definitely did not run a 25-minute time. But I learned a lot from the experience. About a month later I ran that sub-25 minute 5k.

I also tackled my first half marathon, the inaugural Rock 'n Sole. In a way it was a good thing I was still pretty clueless about running and racing. It was a super hot day with a late start time. The race also ran out of water but fortunately I didn't experience that issue - I think it was mainly 10k runners that were affected. I was grossly undertrained though, running only 20-25 miles per week, and the last half of the race was pretty awful. After I finished I remember thinking I'm just not cut out for this!

RNS bib and medal

Of course that meant I immediately signed up for another race, the Haunted Hustle Half Marathon. This time I actually trained for the race. I started reading more about running and learning about workouts and types of runs and incorporated speedwork, tempo runs and overdistance long runs. I also upped my weekly mileage. It so paid off! I ran a new 5k PR leading up to the race and then shaved nearly 25 minutes off my half marathon time. I remember finally feeling like a runner and was excited to see what else I would be able to do with more training and racing experience.


And that is how my love of running began! Since that first year, my love for the sport has only grown and I've now been running for five years. I still get a good laugh when I look back on some of the things I did when I first started running - all the newbie mistakes. It's just part of the learning process, plus it would be a pretty dull story without a few growing pains :)

 Officially a runner!

So that's how I got into running and fitness! My questions for you:
  • How did you get into fitness?
  • What newbie mistakes did you make?
  • What fitness accomplishment are you most proud of?

- ST

69 comments:

  1. Nice to meet you, Sun! Great About Me page! We share a love for baking :-)
    I loved reading about your journey to running! Since you worked with a trainer who was a triathlete, have you ever thought of getting in to that?

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    1. Great to meet you, too, Melissa! At times I've thought about triathlons but to be honest the open swim part kind of intimidates me. Maybe one of these days I'll give it a try!

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  2. I've been running for what seems like forever! Are you in Milwaukee? I went to Marquette! I'm thinking about a Milwaukee half this year.

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    1. Yes, I'm in Milwaukee and actually run past Marquette now and then :) Which Milwaukee Half are you thinking of doing? The Milwaukee Running Festival Half Marathon goes past Marquette :)

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  3. It's great that you got into fitness at such a young age. Exercising with friends is the best. It's great how running can suck you in and make you want to challenge yourself. Nice to meet you in the blog hop

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    1. I agree - working out with friends makes exercise fun plus everyone ends up working harder and pushing themselves to achieve more!

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  4. Nice to meet you, Sun! :D I love cats too! I didn't really get into fitness until halfway through college--I tried out running too, but I started out with lifting weights and fell in love!

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    1. Nice to meet you, too! There's something about lifting weights that is so challenging yet relaxing at the same time. I guess it's kind of like running :)

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  5. I was not really into running until a couple of years ago, and then only off and on. Last year I went from couch to almost marathon (got the flu 3 days before . . . I'm redeeming myself in May though!)

    It's fun reading how people got into fitness. So glad to find your blog through the hop. You have the most adorable kitty!

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    1. Thanks Wendy - Eddie is the sweetest :)

      How terrible to get the flu right before your debut marathon! Hope the one this spring goes better!

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  6. I love reading (and hearing) about how others got into running ;) Biggest noob mistake I made was running too much too soon, i got horrible shin splints, maybe that was also because I didn't get fitted for shoes and just got the cute one (mistake #2)

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    1. That sounds so familiar, Josephine! I also had minor issues after buying a random pair of shoes at Sports Authority. After that experience I learned it pays to go to the running store and get properly fit :)

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  7. Honestly, I got into exercise to heal myself. I had lost my dad, and after the dust settled, I was lost. I joined the gym as a way to force myself off the couch, to do something besides mourn. From there, I met ypu, and will, and anna, and got the support I needed to start living again.

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    1. I'm so glad we met and became friends at Ballys! Speaking of ... we totes need a friend date soon :)

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  8. Oh the memories at Bally's! It's amazing how the people you meet at the gym keep you motivated to improve yourself. Anna was always a motivating person for me and I loved the challenge of the workouts she gave me - no matter how sore I was the next day. I would have to say that "super hot" is an understatement for the First Rock N Sole. It was scorching and humid! I suppose we didn't pick the right season for our first half. Lol. Live and learn.

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    1. Ha, yes, I forgot about how humid it was. It's kind of amazing we kept running after that experience - although I guess every race after it seems not so bad in comparison :)

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  9. I love thinking back about how I started running. Amazing how your experience can change with a little training!

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    1. I completely agree! A little training goes a long way with race times :)

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  10. I love hearing how people got into running too! I did not like exercising period for a long time either! The relay you did sounds pretty interesting though! Have a wonderful weekend Sun!

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    1. Thanks Tricia! I hope you have a great weekend as well :)

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  11. Sounds familiar. I was clueless when I ran my first 5k too. I even trained for a half without a Garmin. I had no idea how inaccurate my Nike chip was. I am most proud that I can run 13.1 miles. I'm not fast but I finish.

    Nice to meet you. Good luck with your running goals.

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    1. Great to meet you, too! Funny you say that about Garmin training - even today I like to leave my Garmin at home. Sometimes simpler is better :)

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  12. Since I didn't like running at all in high school and college, I picked the brains of everyone I could. I read what they suggested, went to my LRS a lot, and think I had a good base to work with. First thing I was told was get fitted for shoes, and NO COTTON.

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    1. Ha, yes - chafing = BAD! I used to wear Soffe shorts when running and those were such a mistake :)

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  13. Great history Sun!

    I ran track in High School and of course the Army made me run. But then I took about 20 year break. I used to smoke 1 1/2 packs of cigarettes a day and I am an alcoholic who drank heavily. I gave both up around 20 years ago. I meet my wife 10 years ago and she is a runner. I made comments like "Why would I want to run 13 miles. I have a perfectly good truck". After we were married my grandson was born and I spent a lot of time with him. I was really out of shape and I knew that wouldn't be good. So for my wedding anniversary about 5 years ago I told my wife for a gift I would run a 5k. I picked a tough 5k course to start out with the GLM (Now Lighthouse Events) Luck Of The Irish 5k. I trained for it on an elliptical and I thought I had this nailed. My wife likes to joke because come race day I had these crappy shoes, non running shorts and a non matching T-Shirt. Of course I started out way to fast and was dead by the 1/2 way point. I finished though.

    And that was the start of it. My greatest accomplishments were completing the Green Bay Marathon last year and the Junk Yard dog 50k trail race. Neither were fast but all I wanted to do was finish.

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    1. Finishing any race is an accomplishment in my book! It's wonderful to hear how you got into running - and that you are able to share the sport with your wife!

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  14. It's good to reconnect with you through the hop! It's so interesting how people get into running. I signed up for my first half marathon without ever having done any race at all. I did run a 5k at the last minute just so I'd have some kind of clue what to do. I was sorely overdressed for that half.

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    1. Great to reconnect with you, too - Kristy's Blog Hops are the best :) I think every runner must go through the overdressing thing at some point. Common newbie mistake!

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  15. Sun, our marathon relay training was spot on!! Wow! I miss our workouts together.

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    1. Me too, Julie! We had the best time working out together - I've yet to find a workout buddy as fun as you :)

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  16. Sun, our marathon relay training was spot on!! Wow! I miss our workouts together.

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  17. Is that the Rock and Sole in Milwaukee? I'm considering doing that this summer (not yet registered...). My first race was a 5K...and did numerous 5K's before I ever learned about training. I would sprint right out from the start, then crash after the first mile and have to run/walk the final two miles. After awhile, I tried to start out slower (in other words...too slow). Finally, after developing a consistent schedule, I learned how to pace myself and I was actually able to finally run the entire 3.1 miles. And, well, as they say, "the rest is history."

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    1. Yes, it's the same race! Although it's under new management since I did the half and every year after the inaugural year it's been a wonderful race. So you should definitely do it :)

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  18. Hello fellow Volee runner!! :)

    It sounds like Eddie and Merlin would be good buds. Merlin is also small (less than 10 pounds) and loves running around my condo.

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    1. Welcome fellow birdie! Yes, I bet they would be besties in no time - they could race each other ;)

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  19. I would have never guessed you hadn't been a runner your entire life. Maybe all that bar dancing was just getting your body in shape for what was to come, LOL
    Wow, and look how amazing you are at it, the natural talent you have and the dedication to push yourself for the awesome times and wins you get now!
    What got me into fitness? Well I was raised into it. My dad was a really good marathon runner (sub 2:40 in the 80's) and a few of his races I would go watch him finish. Both my parents loved hiking, and well they just made all of us kids hike with them and we all grew to enjoy it too. Started running in 3rd grade and well stuck with it ever since.
    I love learning about how others get into running, especially ones like you who have such a passion for it!

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    1. Thanks Kristy - I guess there is some good that can come from bar hopping after all ;) Your dad sounds like an amazing runner and I love that he passed on his love of running to you!

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  20. Good for you to not give up after running your first half marathon! I felt like death after my first, but I think because of how awful I felt that it motivated me that much more to give it another try. And now I'm hooked!

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    1. And you do so many fun looking races! Glad you stuck with it after the tough first experience!

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  21. It is fun to look back at all those mistakes and look at all those victories too! I am still trying to get my 5K under 30 minutes, I will get it! Nice to meet you!

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    1. You will get there, Mary Beth! Great to meet you, too :)

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  22. There is always something to be said for dedicating yourself to a true training program. It's something I haven't done yet, but once I have this baby (in April) and am given the ok to start training again, it's going to be a focus of mine! I am determined to run a half before the end of next year so I think having a solid training plan is the way to go! I too could eat Mexican food every day. Honestly, it's my most favorite thing in the world!

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    1. You're so close to your due date! Congrats in advance :) I'm sure you will meet your goal of running a half by the end of next year and a training plan should help! And seriously - guac every day should be a law ;)

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  23. I could probably fill a book with the newbie mistakes I made! The ones that come to mind are my shoes- I ran my first 5k with a pair of 4 year old Sketchers that most definitely were NOT running shoes. I had arch pain for weeks! I went to the store after that and bought some random pairs I found on the clearance rack and didn't get myself a good new pair of running shoes until about 8 months after I started running!

    As for how I started...my friend signed me up for the Color Run 5k. That was the one I ran with the Sketchers in. I was hooked once I saw how fun running could be! I did several more 5k's (I also really like this distance) and eventually got into longer runs like a 10 miler at the end of the year and I'm about to run my second half marathon at Disney Princess. I've been a runner for a little over 2 years.

    It was great to "meet" you and hear your story! You sound like I did- enthusiastic about running but definitely learned some things along the way ;-)

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    1. Disney Princess is a race I've been wanting to do - really any Disney race - they look like so much fun!! Best of luck at the race :)

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  24. Love this post! It's so fun to see how everyone got into running. I've also only been seriously running for about 5 years (although I did my first half nearly 7 years ago but decided it wasn't for me after I ran it since I trained alone and mostly on the treadmill).

    I wore a cotton tank top to my first half marathon!!! #newbie

    I want to get in on this Blog Hop thing!

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    1. You should totes get in on the next Blog Hop! Kristy hosts them twice a year so watch for the next one in the fall. We've been running about the same amount of time - super cool :)

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  25. It's so cool to hear your running story! I was totally not into fitness either until recently. I kind of had to do something for my health, and signed up for a 10 miler at Disney World because I figured that would be good incentive :) And I was surprised to find myself actually enjoying running so I kept going with it :)

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    1. Glad to hear you are enjoying running so far! How exciting to have a 10-miler on your calendar - best of luck - being a Disney race I'm sure it will be a blast :)

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  26. Running has become one of my favorite ways to explore and really spend time in awe of God who made our world and takes care of it in such an amazing way.

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    1. It's the most wonderful time to reflect and appreciate our surroundings!

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  27. Doing DVD workouts at home I don't know how strong my punches are. (No bag, just air.) So punching my husband in the arm 3x one day left a good bruise.

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    1. Lol! That's a method for measuring fitness that I have not heard anyone else mention - too funny :)

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  28. Love your 'finally a runner' picture!

    I got into fitness again after having both of my kiddies and I wanted to get beach ready for my girlfriend's 4th bday.

    Newbie mistake....trained in my cross trainers I had in the back of my closet...ha!

    Last year I PRd in every race distance from 5k- 13.1

    -tamieka@fitballingrunningmom

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    1. Congrats on all of your PRs in 2015 - I know the work that goes into a PR so those are definitely something to celebrate!

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  29. I am here from Grow Your Blog. I would love to read a post about the "newbie" mistakes you made while getting into running.

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    1. Hi Lynda! Thanks for stopping by :) I did a post about a few newbie mistakes I made as I was getting into running - it can be found here: http://www.eatrunstyle.com/2015/05/in-honor-of-newbie-runners.html

      Happy reading!

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  30. Yay for being part of the blog hop again!
    Oh, the first time I ran a race it was a total disaster. Even though I have been running and racing since 2006, I still feel like I have a lot to learn!
    To answer your questions:
    I have been in fitness things my whole life. Started playing volleyball in early grade school and kept that up along with a few other sports till college. A major life even caused me to put a pause on things, and soon after I recovered from that, running became my thing.
    I still feel like I make newbie mistakes...mostly because I have realized that I am not so great at sticking to my training plan..
    I was most proud of my first half marathon. I never in a million years thought I could even run a 5k, so crossing that finish line was HUGE!
    See ya around!

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    1. I'm with you on still having a lot to learn - I think even runners with decades of experience probably feel they keep learning with every race :)

      Congrats on sticking with it and great to meet you!

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  31. Hi Sun! Great to connect with you again through the blog hop. I LOVE that you were inspired to start your own fitness journey through group exercise classes and hiring a personal trainer! Being a group fitness instructor and soon-to-be CPT myself, I can only hope to have this effect on at least one person. What about the group classes made you drawn to them and developing a fitness habit?

    I got into fitness after being a gymnast for 12 years when I was younger but having to quit due to scheduling. Got into cardio kickboxing, became an instructor, and now I'm very into strength training and teaching group exercise classes. I love it! So happy to connect with you again.

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    1. Hi Ellyn! I think it's so awesome that you are a group fitness instructor and will soon be a CPT - what a rewarding field of work :)

      I think what drew me to the group classes - and still does today - is the social aspect and the idea that everyone in class is in it together. The instructors I take classes with really challenge participants - I know if I slack off even a bit I'll get called out on it. Also, I feel extra motivated to keep up with everyone else in the class!

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  32. I had no idea you hadn't been running, well, forever! You are such a natural! I love hearing everyone's back stories in the hops!!

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    1. Thanks Rachel! I agree, it's fun to hear how everyone got into fitness and a healthy lifestyle!

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  33. I signed up for a Half marathon and then started running. Totally backwards! The biggest mistake that I made was not following the training plan consistently enough- I definitely paid for it during the race! Its nice to know that there are others out there that hated working out as well!

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    1. It's funny how many of us there are who hated it until we gave it a try :) Now we're all hooked!

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  34. Hello from the Blog Hop! Your story had me laughing and looking back on my first race. It was a 5k and I remember going out so fast and then dying at the end! I was miserable and said there was no way I would ever do that again...and then I signed up for my next one 2 days later! It's funny to look back on our rookie mistakes now with all the experience and knowledge that we have. Great post!

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    1. Thanks Kristen! I remember starting too fast too at a few races - actually, I still do that now at races on occasion ;)

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  35. I started running in 2010 after I had my son. My worst mistakes were focusing on how fast I could go and not how far I could run. Once I started allowing myself to "fail" and slow things down, I really started enjoying my runs. My biggest accomplishment was running a half-marathon, and I can't wait to run my next one in May! :)

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    1. Hooray! How exciting to have a half marathon on the calendar - just a few months til race day :)

      Easy running is sometimes the hardest type of running. Ironic, isn't it??

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