I’ve Got the Runs (Stuff I’ve Learned Being a Newbie Runner)

In my quest to complete 31 things on my Cradle List before I find myself knocked up, I have learned a lot and actually have done more than I originally planned. Like yesterday for example, I ran my first 5K ever.

I’m not a runner. In fact, I’ve always hated running. I also thought runners were a bit weird.

I mean, what’s the point? Where are you going? It’s not like you’re going to get to a base, a goal, or to the end of a court. And how do you score? There’s no ball, basket or goal. The whole act of running for running’s sake just seems pointless to me.

I think running would be a lot more fun if there was an offense and a defense. The offense could try to run in a straight line while a defender tries to trip, bump and confuse them. That would not only be fun to play, but it would be an enjoyable spectator sport.

So, in late January, when my company announced they were sponsoring the Go! St. Louis 5K, I decided to join dozens of coworkers in signing up for the run. I figured it would force me to start running and could also help me with #5 on my list, losing 30 pounds.

About 15 minutes later, I panicked. “What the hell am I doing? I’m not a runner. I hate running. I’m going to embarrass myself in front of my coworkers.”

But by then it was too late. I couldn’t embarrass myself by wussing out. So I started the Couch to 5K program. After asking around what would be a respectable finish for a first timer, I set my goal to finish in 45 minutes. Here’s how my training went:

  • Can I have that back, sir?

    January- Start run/walk intervals on treadmill. Can barely make 2.6 miles in 45 minutes at first. Increase running, decrease walking. People tell me to focus on my breathing. The only thing I can focus on is my chest about to explode.Now I know how the human sacrifice guy in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom felt to have his heart ripped out.Try to focus on breathing by chanting “Kali Ma Shakti De” over and over.

  • Late January- Shin splints that gave me stress fractures during high school basketball are back with an ugly vengeance.
    Sexy, right?

    Someone recommends Fleet Feet. I invest in $150 worth of shoes, orthotic insoles and some nerdy looking compression sleeves for my shins.

  • Early February- Finally start making it to 3.1 miles each run.
  • Mid February- Complete a 5K for the first time in 45 minutes. Look around at fellow treadmillers. Expect cheers and a medal. No one notices or congratulates me.
  • Early March- Shave 4 minutes off my time and finish in 41 minutes. Set new goal of 40 minutes for race day.
  • Mid March- Meet goal 40 minutes. Set new goal of 35 minutes. Realize I can almost touch my nose to my knees with my legs stretched straight out in front of me. I’m getting more flexible. Husband will be excited.
  • Late March- 38 minutes consistently, then 36.

    I don't want you.
  • April 9- Finish my first 5K in 37 minutes, 2 minutes shy of my 35 minute goal. Weak sauce. Mixed feelings: accomplishment (I finished) failure (I was too slow). Mom shows me video clip she shot of me crossing the finish line. First time I see how awkward I look. I ask her never to show anyone the video.Mom asks, “Now that the race is over, can we go get some pancakes?” I do not get the pancakes.

People told me it would feel really awesome to finish, but the truth is, it felt kind of embarrassing. It was really discouraging to keep getting passed by better runners.

I don’t want to be a runner. But the problem is, I hate being bad at anything. In some ways I wish I had never started running because I know I will never be awesome at it. At best, I might be ok. But now that I have started, I feel like I have to do better. In fact, now I want to do a 5K in 30 minutes.

My next 5K is in May. Hopefully this one won’t be quite as embarrassing. In the meantime, for fun, the next time I see a runner in my neighborhood, I’m going to play “defense” against him.


  1. Argh, I’m trying to do a 5K too. I was supposed to do it May1st, but am totally falling in my training. Everyone I mentioned the ‘C25K’ to said it was a waste of time and I should just start running and not follow a plan. I should have known not to listen to them considering they are all athletes and running 3 miles is no big deal to them! I started ‘just running’ to see how I’d do…. fail. I’m still only able to run like a half mile before I feel like I’m gonna die.

    You did C25K though, and it worked for you? I feel like maybe I should start my ‘training’ over and do that!

  2. If it weren’t for C25K, I would not have been able to do this. The whole idea behind it is to keep you accountable and motivated because the steps are easy to follow. The whole “just start running” thing didn’t work for me because it seemed so overwhelming. I know several people who did C25K. They weren’t athletes before, but they are now.

    I actually followed the “Treadmill Version” at my gym. Here’s a link: http://www.c25k.com/c25k_treadmill.html I found it very easy to make progress because the intervals give you something to think about and focus on so you don’t think about the fact that your chest feels like it is going to explode after 1/2 a mile. (Like I did when I tried to just start running with no plan to follow.)

    I have always wanted to join up with some of the social runners in STL but I’m definitely not fast enough to keep up with their pace. If you ever want to meet at Forest Park for a “slow-newbie-easy-C25K-style run” I’m totally game. In fact, there’s gotta be a beginner’s running club in STL somewhere. We should check it out.

    Don’t give up, Danielle!

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