At the request of “Tequila” Matt Black, our reluctant director of mischief: this is a post for Zombie Troopers of Pennsylvania members about how I got started running and about how to get into shape for Run For Your Lives.
Matt says that he never runs because he’s not being chased… when the zombies come, he won’t have that excuse. It’s best to train now—they’ll eat the slow ones first.
Don’t join the ranks of the undead: Consult your doctor before beginning any exercise program.
First of all, this isn’t about losing weight, or fitting into the swimsuit this summer, or addressing your body image issues. This is about running from zombies…
Getting started is the hardest part. When I first started running I decided to commit to running 15 minutes everyday on a treadmill at the YMCA. Between work and family it was an easy (and short) segment of time to commit to without being able to find a reason to talk myself out of it. It became second nature to drive straight to the YMCA after work, and run on a treadmill, without taking too much time out of my day. Eventually I began running longer, but getting into that 15 minute a day habit was key for me.
I was never a runner when I was younger, so I started slow and worked up to running faster speeds within the same time limit. I didn’t know how fast I was supposed to be able to run. I didn’t even have the goal of running a 5k race when I started. When I finally did race, after a good 10 months of running on a treadmill, my first 5k was a small local race. I finished in 25 minutes (about 8 minutes per mile) and placed third in my age group. Running outside on the road was much different than running on a treadmill. I’d recommend trying some outdoor runs early in your training.
If, like me, you’ve never run before, here’s a program to take you from the couch to running 5k (that’s 3.1 miles) in 9 weeks. I wish I had had this program when I had started running. You start by training for 20 to 30 minutes 3 times each week—alternating jogging for 1 minute with 1½ minutes of walking for 20 minutes. Eventually, over the next 9 weeks, you work your way up to running the full 5k distance (if you started now you could just about be ready for the Run For Your Lives event in Atlanta). Once you can run for a full 5k, then you can start working on cutting down the time it takes you to do it.
If you think that you need expensive running shoes, well, you don’t. They’re overrated and some people even run barefoot. A simple low cost pair of gym shoes should suit your purposes. You’re likely to already have a pair.
If you think you’ll need access to a treadmill, there are plenty of inexpensive options: many gyms are offering $20/month memberships (like Planet Fitness, who runs a limited time deal as low as $10/month). I spend more than that on video games. To save even more money, you could also check with your employer to see if they have an Employee Wellness Program and check with your health insurance to see if they offer discounts for gym memberships.
So, just start running—no excuses. You can worry about refining your technique later. Don’t wait for warmer weather, or the beginning of next week, or next year’s resolution. Run on a treadmill; Run on the road; Run early in the morning; Run late at night (get some running safety lights). Most importantly: just get started.