by Erin Giberson | January 31, 2018
Ever have a friend trick you into doing something you needed to do – but maybe wouldn’t have on your own?
I have. It was running five miles.
About two years ago, I found myself in a season that can only be described as “fertilizer” -the painful kind that takes time to grow something new. Some chapters are like that. With three kids aged 7 to 1, I was also needed constantly. One of my closest friends wanted to relay run The Perfect 10 Miler yet lacked a partner. She asked if I’d be her team partner, and I “agreed”– but only if I could walk the whole thing; I didn’t expect her to readily accept.
Yet, 6 months later, the day of that race, I ran, rather than walked, my first five miles. Since that race, I have run two half-marathons, the Philadelphia Love Run and the Novo Nordisk NJ Half-Marathon, and a year later, I returned and ran the full Perfect 10 Miler myself when my friend couldn’t be there.
If I, a stay-at-home Mom of 3 young kids/writer/teacher, can become a regular long-distance runner, you or anyone can do it. Here are 6 things that I have learned that helped me achieve the seemingly impossible goal, and I’m curious to hear your feedback about what it will take to get you started and get to the finish line.
For 3-4x a week for almost three months, we walked a route in the neighborhood that was about 1.5 miles. The distance was so far for me then!
Just keep walking, my friend would say, though I wasn’t sure it would be enough.
Eventually, though, I started jogging for little spurts – half a block here and there – which became increasingly longer. I’d push myself by thinking things like, I’ll run until I get to that blue car or that light post.
Finally, one day I ran our whole walking route without stopping – and without wanting to: it turns out that the things runners gush about are true. The release and surge of adrenaline and excitement hit me, and I was hooked.
The key is that you get started, and keep going.
Aside from realizing my own endurance, I’ve learned better self-care. I’ve gained a runner’s respect for hydration. I’ve eradicated my abdominal and back pain (due to weak stomach muscles after 3 kids). And I’ve started paying attention to what I consume. Because fuel is everything.
As a mom with three young kids, I know what it’s like to be sleep-deprived and low on energy.
I know what it’s like to take care of others first and slack on yourself. And I know how easy it is to eat food without much nutritional value when you’re already dragging.
Running made me eat better simply because it made my runs better. I noticed the difference when I drank enough water, gave myself a decent bedtime, and ate for nutritional content.
When I joined a running group, Team RWB, I learned even more about training and race prep. We talked about things like, what do you eat the morning of a race? What do you eat during the week ahead of a half-marathon (13.1 miles)? And, which do you prefer: Chews or Gu?
Most runners prefer one or the other: the solid, square energy chews or the viscous gels. Both styles are consumed prior to and during long or strenuous activity, to give an energy boost and aid recovery.
I think Gu is weird but prefer it because it’s easier to take in motion than those that require more deliberate chewing. Ultimately, either is a convenient way to take in sugar and carbs during more demanding exercise.
But these energy boosts are also chemically stabilized and aren’t necessary for regular exercising or daily use. So, what is?
The answer, I’m finding, challenges my old habits.
I used to turn to coffee. Living in Anchorage, Alaska, as I did growing up before moving to the US East Coast, made coffee an easy addiction. Local roasters and drive-up espresso stands are amazing and everywhere. So, when I moved to the Lower 48, I was surprised that my go-to energy source wasn’t as readily available.
Missing the quality and experience of good espresso, I succumbed to multiple cups of coffee a day. And that’s a routine of tiredness that doesn’t abate.
I now look for what truly improves how I feel. This assessment decreased my coffee leaning and drove me toward adequate water (I absolutely love my Bluewave Daily 8 bottle) and green tea.
I now have perhaps one cup of coffee, because I love the taste and ritual–but not for energy.
For boosted stamina and clarity, I prefer shoEnergy+.
It’s reasonable to be wary of energy products. Most fast energy products cause inevitable crashing, later or even the next day. A rapid spike is often followed by foggy lethargy.
What makes sho different is that it’s natural without artificial additives, rich in antioxidants with its addition of Matcha, and loaded with B vitamins many of us lack in over-processed diet; plus, the boost of calm energy–without spike or drop–is noticeable.
Once you get going, the most important thing is to log miles. The more miles you cover before a race, the better you’ll feel and perform.
On a recent training run, I tested shoEnergy’s value as a pre-workout performance boost. While no supplement can make up for proper hydration, fueling, and training, an effective one can enhance energy. In advance of my next half-marathon in April, I’m setting my sights on a new half PR (personal record). To get there, I’m pace training with variation between my hard and easy miles.
What I notice with sho Energy, is that I almost forget I’ve taken it (it’s smartly designed for easy-swallowing and easy-dispensing with a simple click - a fun action, never a chore), and then, recognizing my own alertness, I remember, that’s right: this is sho. I feel focused and invigorated, but unlike a sugar high, it’s smooth, and it’s long-lasting. Even in the evening, much later, and after a great run with strong hard mile spurts, I still wasn’t depleted. Neither was I wired.
If I had tried to start running according to someone else’s style or method, I’m not sure it would have worked. By giving me zero pressure about timing or distance, my friend let me find my own drive. She also knew what she was doing. She introduced me to running at a time in my life when I needed it – physically, mentally, and emotionally. I have her to thank for seeing that opportunity and walking with me, literally, until I could run on my own.
Want to share your experience, have tips about getting into running, or talk about what has stopped you? Want to try shoEnergy? Reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org