So every week, I will post our Monday morning chat right here so you can revisit it if you'd like or be all caught up if you happen to miss our Monday group run or keep with the group if you are one of our super special virtual RUNaways!  It's a password protected blog just for us current RUNaways because you are investing your time and money in the program.  The first pre run meeting is always the longest and this Monday, we went over a lot of stuff, so I'll try to condense it as much as I can instead of writing a novella.  Here's what I chatted about and here goes the summary . . . 

  1. Welcome and Intro of Amy  
  2. Benefits of Running (and why we pursue this craziness)
  3. The Schedule (and what's up with all of the walking?!)
  4. Proper Running Form
  5. Running Safety
  6. Dealing with the Heat
  7. Picking Out Shoes
  8. Recruiting Friends
So, first things first, I'm so happy to meet and see all of you and be a fellow RUNaway Mom with you!  Thank you for trusting me on your running journey.  To read about my running journey, click on "Amy's RUNaway Blog" on the left side of this website.  It just summarizes the beginning of my journey and should make you feel better about any feelings you might be having . . . and let you in on the fact that I'm a total goober.

The benefits of running are numerous.  Your body, physical health and mental health will all change for the better with running.  Think weight loss, body toning, cholesterol lowering, blood pressure lowering, immunity increase, increased metabolism, more efficient sleep patterns, confidence boosting and true physiological changes that will lower our stress levels.  Think new friends, therapy and venting time with old friends, bonding time with family, listening to music without being bothered, thinking to ourselves, running out a frustrating day, appreciating nature.  Yep, these are the benefits plus others that you'll discover along the way!

So what's up with all the walking?  I thought this was a running program.  Patience my friends.  If you are looking to get injured or if you want to burn out and quit in these next few weeks, then run and run fast.  Make sure to measure yourself and your speed and endurance against other runners that you see on the trails and other runners in our group too to really lower your confidence.  No no, don't do that really.  The number one reason that people quit running is because they find that it's too hard.  Yes, if you have not run before and attempt to blast off at cheetah pace, then running is going to suck.  So let's actually respect this body of ours that we are going to be challenging this fall and give it time to adapt.  A walking and running schedule is mandatory for a successful running start.  No other way around it.  It's still super efficient to walk and it still burns lots of calories.  Your body is absolutely magical in the fact that it will do what we tell it to do and it will get stronger every week.  Give running time to click.  Even if you are in other sports or hit the gym on a regular basis or have even conquered some running miles before, outdoor running places demands on different muscle and joint groups, so let's let our body ease into it.  If we are nice to it, it will be nice to us.

Running form will also dictate our success in this sport.  We are always going to be fresh in that first minute or two or three of jogging after our warm up walk.  Don't start too fast or furious - you've got some more minutes to cover during your workout and your body will become fatigued no matter what.  Keep at a happy pace.  One that may seem to slow in the beginning but will be just perfect in the middle and end.  Your happy pace (or speed) is what your primal self will go to when you get tired, so train that mind and body to go there now.  Things to remind yourself about running form - 1.) Keep your posture straight.  Not "balancing a plate on my head like a model" straight.  Your body will lean forward a little bit, but hold yourself up with your core muscles.  2.)  Keep your stomach and abdomen engaged.  A lazy core makes our legs work harder to propel us.  Don't hold your breath to suck in that stomach, just don't be lazy and let it hang out.  (And by the way, you'll notice your posture and core will change for the worse when you are tired.  Time to tell that body what to do.)  3.)  Keep your neck and arms relaxed.  Your arms will propel you, but they don't need to be tight.  If your heart rate gets to high or if you are out of breath, drop your arms and jog slower.  4.)  Run or jog like a ninja.  This means smooth and light steps on the ball of our foot.  No pounding or your lower back will hate you.  Don't over think this.  you just don't want to run on your heels or run on your tiptoes.  Just concentrate on running smoothly and softly and this will come naturally.  5.)  Keep your stride (how far your legs move out) and your pace (how fast you are running) short and slow.  You'll be more efficient and will reach your running distance goals this way.  Really, you will.

Running training and form don't mean a thing if we get squashed by a moving vehicle.  If you are running on the trails, keep to the right.  You should have one ear open if you are wearing an iPod so that you can hear other walkers or cyclists.  The faster person whether on foot or on bike should move around the slower person.  So if you are running and someone is walking their dog, say "on your left" and jog around them.  If you are running and a bike is behind you, stay your course, they should move around you.  If you are on the road, you will always run on the shoulder and you should always run facing traffic.  It is super important to establish eye contact with drivers at intersections.  If you can't establish eye contact with them, then assume they don't see you.  You are in charge of running defensively.  Never ever assume that the drivers see you.  And sadly, some drivers just aren't nice to us runners.  Never let the horn honks or rude driver manners ruin your run.  I love to look at them and smile and wave just to really get their goat.  Let's face it, they are jealous that you've found a successful running program.  Be safe!

It's hot outside.  Really hot.  And it's humid outside.  Really humid.  This is not a surprise.  It's the summer in Houston for pete's sake.  Please respect the heat.  Your body is freaking out enough trying just to cool down your heart and lungs and liver and other vital organs just to live in the heat.  And the humidity makes it impossible for our sweat to evaporate and cool us as we exercise outside.  When you are pumping more blood through your body as you walk and run, you are giving it double duty.  Running in the heat is hard.  The solution?  Take.  It.  Slow.  Running is an endurance sport and the muscle that gives us the most endurance is our heart.  It is working.  Believe me, it is really working.  Your legs may be too slow for your taste, but that heart is screaming "Slow Down!  I'll work with you, but Slow Down."  When the temperature dips in October or November or December . . . oh, just wait.  If you treat your body right in the heat and take it slow, you will be a superstar on these glorious fall days.

Shoes.  The most important piece of gear for a runner.  There's only about 200 different shoe types.  Awesome for a beginner runner, right?!  Ugh.  You can read and read about shoes, but the best thing to do is actually try them out.  You'll hear all sorts of terms like high arched, over pronator, running gait.  Don't get caught up in the jargon just yet.  Let the person at the shoe store help you with this by watching you walk with your socks on and matching your walk with the best shoe type.  This requires you to actually go to a running specialty store and try on at lest 3 pairs of shoes.  (Yes, our days are filled to capacity, but this will not be a waste of time.  Do it soon.)  Things to look for in a shoe:  1.)  adequate movement of your toes.  (too tight shoes = blisters and black toenails and miserable runner)  2.) comfortable padding  (they just need to be pretty comfortable.  k?)  3.)  appropriate size (you'll probably go 1/2 size bigger in running shoes than you wear in normal shoes).  Try these shoes out with running socks - not the cotton socks that you wore in the store.  Buy these running socks too.  A bonus - take a little jog in them on a treadmill at the store.  Pick your pair and give them a try.

Shoes usually "wear out" after about 300 miles.  This sounds like a lot right now, but you should have about 4 - 6 months with these shoes at first.  If your back or knees or hips ever start hurting unexpectedly, think about how long you've had your shoes.  It is often the culprit.  As shoes begin to wear out, their support and padding hardens.  This will also happen if you wash and dry your shoes.  Spot wash shoes and dry them by stuffing newspaper in them and letting them air dry.  And the last tip; if you are purchasing the exact same shoes that you are wearing right now, take the insert out of the new shoes and put your insert that you have in your shoes now in your new shoes.  This insert has already molded to your foot and it'll be more comfortable for you.

I'm almost done!  Last topic . . . recruiting friends!  It's not too late, but it's getting down to the wire.  Anyone still interested in joining RUNaway Moms for our fall training must be officially registered by next Monday, September 6th.  After that, we'll have to leave without them and they can be a RUNaway Mom in January.  They haven't missed out on too much yet, but the sooner, the better!  I'll call them and get them the schedule the day that they sign up if we've got any takers.

Happy day to all of you!  Call or email with questions or comments and I'll see you on Tuesday (remember, Monday is Labor Day - take a nice 30 minute walk).