How to Start Running in 2015

Once upon a time there was a chubby little girl with arthritis growing up in Maryland. She wanted to be an athlete, but she was terrible at every sport she tried.

She joined the field hockey team in high school, but she was told she was too slow to play in championship games.

She tried joining the track team, but she was told she was too slow to run in any meets.

Eventually she joined the swim team, but only because they didn’t make cuts. She swam, but she was pretty bad at it and didn’t really love it.

Years later, the girl got married and moved to Texas. A few years later she had a baby and tried to reconcile her post-baby body with who she used to be. As much as she couldn’t stand how she looked, she couldn’t stand the thought of leaving her new baby to go work out even more. So she strapped her baby into a jogging stroller and took her for a walk. Eventually she got bored with walking and started to run. When the girl’s friend told her she’d signed up for a half-marathon, she decided to see if she could do it.

And she could.

Then a few months later she decided to see if she could run another one, but faster this time.

And she did.

Molly (then 1) and me after a race in Dallas.
Molly (then one year old) and me after a race in Dallas.

Before she knew it, she had lost her baby weight plus 10 pounds without having to agonize over every calorie she consumed. She was no longer depressed and lonely, because she was outside every day and meeting friends for runs. A few years after that day, the girl had run seven half marathons, a full marathon, two 10-milers, and some 5Ks and 10Ks. She had even won a 10K. Running had changed her for the better.

Guess what? That story is about me. You had no idea, did you? I shared it with you so that I can tell you this: if I can do it, you can do it. Running does not discriminate or exclude anyone. It’s free and easy. If you can walk, you can run.

Did you make a New Year’s Resolution you already broke? Are you tired of obsessing over your weight or logging countless boring minutes on the elliptical? Ready to start running? Here are a few ways to get started:

1. Buy some shoes.

The only equipment you really need to run is shoes. Go to a real running store and get fitted. The experts there will watch you walk and run and help you find shoes that are perfect for you. If you are in the wrong shoes, your feet will hurt and you’ll be miserable, plus you’ll be more likely to injure yourself. A few great running stores in San Antonio are:

We Run San Antonio

Boerne Running Company

iRun Texas

Fleet Feet

Soler’s TriSports

While you are there, grab one of the shiny pamphlets advertising local races. Because your next tip is…

2. Sign up for a race.

My family and me after a race. Don't let the kids' faces fool you; they were super happy to be there.
My family and me after a race. Don’t let the kids’ faces fool you: they were super happy to be there.

Seriously, just do it. If you are brand new to running or exercising, pick a 5K (3.1 miles) about 12 weeks away. Sign up. If you have a bit of a fitness base, you can choose one sooner (eight or so weeks). Pay the money. Put it on your calendar. Put weekly reminders on your phone. And then…

3. Look for a training plan.

Couch-to-5K training plans abound online. They are designed to transition you from completely sedentary to in shape enough to complete a 5K. You can find some here. Couch-to-5K (or C25K, for those of us too lazy to type that much) use walk-run ratios to make the distance less overwhelming.

4. Figure out what to do with the kids.

Thank goodness for jogging strollers.
Thank goodness for jogging strollers.

You have several options when it comes to childcare while running. For little kids (five and under) there is always a jogging stroller. You can find them on Craigslist at a pretty hefty discount. Jogging strollers are hard to push, but you have the benefit of working out with your kids and burning more calories! I’ve shared childcare with a friend before: she watches both kids while I run, and then we switch. If you have a partner at home, you can run early in the morning or late in the evening while he watches the kids. Or there are always gyms with childcare. Almost all have treadmills, and some will even let you run from the gym while your kids are in childcare.

5. Find a place to run.

I like to run from my house and am fortunate to live in an area with many safe, interesting running routes. If you do not have this option, explore some of the great trails that San Antonio has to offer. Here is a great place to get started. A few of my favorites are:

The Mission Reach Trail

Leon Creek Greenway (Valero Park)

Phil Hardberger Park

Salado Creek Greenway

6. Find some running buddies.

My running buddy Maria and me. Running did not make me any less awkward.
My running buddy Maria and me. Running does not make me any less awkward.

Everything is easier to do with friends. A running buddy will be there to motivate you when you don’t feel like running, and you will be able to do the same for her! A buddy can help keep you safe when you run, and will be a good person to listen when you start jabbering about Garmins, sports bras, and Gu (bonus tip: people who don’t run won’t understand or care). One great, free resource in San Antonio is Moms Run This Town. This is a Facebook group that organizes group runs all over town and helps match up running buddies. They also provide discounts to races, because just like a Lay’s potato chip, you can’t stop at just one. All of the running stores I mentioned in Tip #1 have free group runs. Personally, I run with We Run San Antonio in Leon Springs. We meet on the weekends for long runs and during the week for speed work. All group runs are free, and I’ve met wonderful friends and found tremendous improvements in my running.

Now you’re ready. Make 2015 the year you accomplish more than you ever thought possible!

Kristin moved to San Antonio from Baltimore in 2006. Although she had a brief 2 year stay in Fort Worth, the margaritas, breakfast tacos and the kind souls of our residents drew her back for good. She's a third grade teacher and group fitness instructor, and single mom to Molly (2009), Sadie (2011), Daisy (dog) and Charlie (cat). When she has free time, she's either training for a half marathon or on a patio somewhere with a Titos and soda. Favorite Restaurant: Sustenio Favorite Landmark: The Pearl Brewery Favorite San Antonio Tradition: The Elf Movie parties at Alamo Drafthouse