Ahh, a new year, full of possibilities. Last Monday I wrote a post about my take on resolutions and the one thing I didn’t cover was how I got started jogging. Before this, I’d never ran or jogged before in my life, unless you count playing as a child. It wasn’t something I had seriously intended on doing in 2011, but happened all the same, and the story starts with a pair of unusual shoes.
Yes, the ones pictured here. They’re called Vibram FiveFingers (VFFs or Veebs) and they’re marketed as barefoot sports shoes. I wanted a pair more than I’d ever wanted a any kind of footwear before. But the cheapest style is $70, not something to scoff at, and I’d never spent that kind of money before on shoes. Plus with the whole saving up to go RVing thing, and the fact that I already had enough shoes in serviceable condition, it just didn’t seem like a good investment.
But as the months went by, I still wanted them, badly. My roommate did too, and for the past couple years we had both occasionally brought up the fact that we should start jogging. I forget who’s idea it was initially, but eventually a plan was hatched. We’d allow ourselves to buy them, but only after we got started jogging, with the intention of actually exercising in them later.
Which is my first tip for anyone who wants to get started running themselves. I’ve known people who say they’re going to start exercising, and then buy all the nifty fun gear before hand. But if you do that, then there is no reward at the end to keep you going, and if you don’t get far with it, then you spent a bunch of money on stuff that you won’t be using. Not that everyone needs a carrot, but in my case I wouldn’t have even started without one.
We had two friends who had recently started this thing called the Couch-to-5k running plan (abbreviated C25K) and that looked like as good a way to start as any. This is my second tip for jogging hopefuls. Too often people get so excited to get started and make progress, that they overdo it too much in the beginning. They injure themselves, or get really worn out and sore, and think mistakenly that they just aren’t cut out for exercising, or it’s more pain than it’s worth, and stop. Start slow, and understand that like many things that are worth it, it will take time.
The great thing about this plan is it’s a slow introduction to jogging, people at any fitness level can benefit as long as you follow the directions. I’m not saying this is the end-all best program to start running out there, but I do highly recommend some sort of program, because having a set of specific directions to follow makes things so much easier. There is no need to worry if you’re making enough progress, or at what points do you increase your distance, or any of that kind of stuff, it’s all laid out for you.
At the beginning of the program, you’re alternating jogging with walking at set time points, and the farther you go, the less walking and the more jogging there is. If you also decide on C25K, a watch with a second hand to keep track of when to jog and when to walk is crucial. Even better, if you have a mp3 player of some sort, you can time the music to when you should be walking and when you should be jogging. Or even better than that – there are actually aps out there that have the cues in them already, for maximum ease.
We started on July 25th, and C25K is 9 weeks long. Which brings me to my third tip. Probably the biggest thing that contributed to my success was having someone to jog with. I know that isn’t always possible though, so this program offers the next best thing. They have a Facebook page that people can post to as they progress through the weeks. So even if you don’t have someone physically to go running or jogging with, you can still share your success and frustrations online with people who are at the same stage as you, and help keep each other motivated.
The promise is that at the end of 9 weeks, you’ll be able to jog 3.1 miles (5 kilometers) continually. There are two ways you can do the program, you can either aim for a set time, or a set distance. If you really want to be able to do the 3.1 miles in 9 weeks though, you’ll have to follow the distance goals. Our last day was September 26th, at which point we purchased our VFFs and then the weekend of the 30th we had plans to meet the roomie’s sister at Great Smoky Mountains national park for some camping and hiking. The timing was about perfect, we had our fun toe shoes just in time to go hiking in them on the trip, which is where the photo came from.
We continued jogging after the trip, slowly transitioning from our regular shoes (my ‘regular’ jogging shoes were a pair of $20 skate shoes bought for playing Dance Dance Revolution years ago, classy) to the toe shoes. On October 9th we ran our first race. It was 4 miles long and was pegged as an adventure run. The track went across fields, woods, up cliffs, and through (quite literally) salt water marsh. A very wet and muddy experience, but a lot of fun!
Even through the C25K is over I’m still jogging 3 times a week. I love the feeling I get after finishing, and it has improved my energy levels. I figure this will be a great way to continue exercising once I’m full-time RVing, as it requires no equipment to bring with and will allow me to explore the areas where I’m camped. If you have any other RVing friendly exercise methods, I’d love to hear about them. Have a great new year all!