How I Started Running

Thinking about running used to make me cringe because memories of being the last one in gym class to finish the mile and the pain of coming up with countless excuses as to why I couldn’t run the laps for soccer practice would flood my mind. Running was literally the last thing on Earth I would have imagined myself doing voluntarily prior to 2009, unless I was being chased or the ice cream truck was pulling away.

So I even shocked myself when I first said, “I want to be a runner” last April. I really can’t explain exactly what came over me, I just decided one day that I wanted to start running, and that was that. I remember talking to my friend Amber at work and she said, WHY!? I replied, “All athletes are runners” and she said I was wrong (which I now do think I was). I guess I just never even imagined myself having the ability to run, so the challenge was intriguing.

I had just joined Weight Watchers the month before and frequented the 20 somethings message board for support daily. A lot of people who had been successful with the WW program had taken up running, and I saw “c25k” more times than I could count before I googled it myself to see what the big hype was about.

C25k stands for Couch to 5k and is a 9 week program that has you go from being completely inactive to running a 5k at the end of the program. I’m not one to really follow things to a T unless I design them myself (take recipes for an example) and I had already been working out so I knew I had some good cardio endurance. So, I decided to use the basic idea of walk/run intervals but came up with my own plan.

I started with a 2 minute jog followed by a 2 minute walk and I can vividly remember that first 2 minute interval and wanting to throw myself down on the pavement and quit as I gasped for air and literally thought I might die. Running was harder than I thought it would be and my countless hours on the elliptical did not seem to be helping. I took a day off and set off the day after with the same 2 min jog/2 min walk and you know what, it was a little easier. Definitely not easy by any means, but I felt less like throwing myself down on the side of the road. After those first two runs, I took it inside to the treadmill so that I could gauge my pace and make sure that I was never running a second longer than I was supposed to for the interval.

Time went by and I remember getting up to doing 5 minutes of running with 1 minute of jogging, and calling my mom freaking out about how I had run .5 miles STRAIGHT for the first time that I could remember. I don’t think she really understood how huge of a deal that was to me because running .5 miles straight doesn’t sound that far, but for me, it was a huge deal. More weeks went by and I eventually ran for 20 minutes straight and would tack on 5 more minutes each time that I felt like I could until I was eventually running for about 45 minutes straight.

I started running outside once I mastered 45 minutes straight and the transition from treadmill to pavement was ROUGH. I remember the first time I did an outdoor run last June and it was with my coworker Jackie. I think we went around 3 miles total but towards the end I started getting a terrible side stitch and thought I was going to throw up. We had to stop at Quizno’s and beg them for water since we had no cash. They probably obliged only because I looked like I was going to drop dead with my red face and sweat crusted body. We ended up walking the rest of the way back to the office, but, I kept on trucking.

I signed up for my first 5k which was September 12, 2009 one year ago YESTERDAY! We didn’t have chip timing because it was a really casual race, but ever since that run, I was hooked! I’ve since completed 8 races: 5 5k’s, 2 10ks, and a 10 miler. And as you probably know, I have a Half Marathon coming up on Sunday, which will be my first half marathon ever and the true test to me of being an endurance athlete.

So I know my story is not that unique in terms of how I started running, but you have to realize that as cliché as this might sound, if I can do it, so can you! I literally DREADED running throughout my entire childhood, and now it’s something I truly enjoy. It helped me with my weight loss tremendously and the pounds started melting off when I first started running. It also helps me so much mentally because I’m naturally a pretty anxious person and it helps relieve stress so much. I experienced runner’s high for the first time last week which was seriously the most amazing feeling in the world, and totally worth the almost year it took me to get there. 🙂

Tomorrow I’ll do a post about tips and tricks for new runners if you’re thinking about starting running so let me know if there’s anything specific you’d like me to address AND if you are a runner please contribute extra tips in the comments section!

Lunch today was super simple and delicious. It feels so good to be eating clean after an indulgent weekend…


An Arnold Thin Sub Style (1 pt) with 2 tbsp Roasted Red Pepper Hummus (1 pt), a slice of RF provolone (1 pt) and sprouts (0 pts).


Celery + Cherry Tomatoes for a veggie kick.

leftover couscous

And 1 cup of leftover couscous salad (3 pts) from Saturday’s potluck.


Super satisfying 6 point lunch that took about 4 minutes to assemble this morning!

Are you a runner? How long have you been running? How did you get started?

45 Comments on How I Started Running

  1. ultrarunnergirl
    September 13, 2010 at 2:25 pm (10 years ago)

    Great post. I always enjoy hearing how people got into running. It’s a tough sport to start. The C25K thing is such a helpful tool – I can scarcely imagine starting off trying to run a whole mile if I were new to it!
    BTW, that couscous was delicious. Do you have the recipe somewhere on your blog? Great meeting you this weekend!

  2. Exercise and Eat
    September 13, 2010 at 2:49 pm (10 years ago)

    That looks like a beautiful lunch! Bet it tasted good too:)

  3. lisaou11
    September 13, 2010 at 3:35 pm (10 years ago)

    I still wish that I could get into running. Maybe someday 🙂 I think I love 2 mile runs, and anything beyond that is too much.

  4. eatmoremeatless
    September 13, 2010 at 4:02 pm (10 years ago)

    I’m so glad to hear that you are enjoying running! I go in and out of phases with running and wish I could be more consistent.

    PS – where did you find those new Arnold Sandwich Thins? I’m still only seeing the round ones in Miami!

  5. catherinemccauley
    September 13, 2010 at 4:14 pm (10 years ago)

    Love to hear about you conquering running! I’ve always dreaded running, but I think I may try the two min run/walk thing tonight and see how it goes!

    One thing I would like to know is, how do you fight boredom? To me, even 30-45 min. on the treadmill seems like an eternity!

    • Beth
      September 13, 2010 at 4:29 pm (10 years ago)

      Hi Catherine – Keep me posted if you decide to try it! And even though it will probably be really hard, I PROMISE that time #2 will be easier. I’m going to do a post about overcoming mental hurdles later this week but boredom is definitely a hard thing to overcome. I’ve found that running outside makes me less likely to get bored, but its still tough. Listen to music, soak in the scenery, run with a friend… anything to distract yourself from what you’re actually doing. 🙂

      • catherinemccauley
        September 13, 2010 at 8:54 pm (10 years ago)

        I did it! I set a goal of 3 miles…no time goal, I didn’t want to kill myself! I made it in 42:00. Not too bad for my first 3 miles in years! 0:00-12:00 were good, 12:00-20:00 were terrible (really wanted to quit at 20), but I felt like I got in a grove on 20:00-30:00, 30:00-40:00 were if-y but I had already come so far that I just kept going. Thanks for the inspiration! I think my legs are going to hate you in the morning! 🙂

  6. project55statusongoing
    September 13, 2010 at 4:19 pm (10 years ago)

    Love, love this post. I too just randomly decided to ‘become a runner’ as my 2009 new year’s resolution.

    I still remember the pride I felt when I first ran ONE WHOLE SONG non-stop. It was a Rihanna song so maybe 3 -3:30 minutes but I was so impressed with myself! By September I ran a half-marathon in 2.5 hours without walking…love how fast you can see your own progress.

    – CJ

  7. Erin @ A Girl & Her Mutt
    September 13, 2010 at 4:26 pm (10 years ago)

    Love to hear your story! Its fun to hear how runners have started off and I know how far they have come.

  8. Jean@RoastedRootsandPumpkinSpice
    September 13, 2010 at 5:16 pm (10 years ago)

    I’m definitely not a runner but it’s a great to hear about people who plans and trains for marathons. It seems like such an awesome accomplishment.

    Your simple sandwich sounds delicious!

  9. Lisa @ bakebikeblog
    September 13, 2010 at 5:47 pm (10 years ago)

    oooh thankyou for sharing your running story with us!! 🙂

  10. Lisa
    September 13, 2010 at 5:54 pm (10 years ago)

    Happy “running anniversary!” I ran my first 5k last year too–in October. The Run Like Hell 5k.

  11. Jamie
    September 13, 2010 at 5:57 pm (10 years ago)

    I would like to complete the C25K at some point… I keep telling myself that I am going to start but then I never do. Part of the problem is that I have my son by myself and although I do have a jogging stroller, he weighs close to 40 pounds. I think it would make it that much harder.

  12. Katie @ Health for the Whole Self
    September 13, 2010 at 8:01 pm (10 years ago)

    Thanks for sharing your running story! When I first started I also used the jog-walk method, which worked really well for me. When I finished my half-marathon I could hardly believe how far I had come! 🙂

  13. Laura
    September 13, 2010 at 8:33 pm (10 years ago)

    I can not tell you how much I loved this post. Simply because I was exactly you. I was NEVER a runner. Ever. Same in high school I was always the last one to finish. Though I was blessed with being naturally thin I was probably never really “fit”

    This past May I began to toy with the idea of running. Then in June I decided to start with walking. I knew I had to get my legs in shape to even think of running. I too looked at the C25k program, but didn’t even begin to follow it until just a few weeks ago.

    Never in my life did I think I would be able to run for 3 minutes straight and now I am!!! Even more I can feel that cardio wise I could go longer though I am having some problems with my calves cramping.

    Point is for the first time in my life I am achieving something I never thought possible nor did I think I would like, but I love it!

  14. Ashleigh
    September 13, 2010 at 9:26 pm (10 years ago)

    My story is very similar to yours! I started weight watchers, and started the c25k program the same. It was almost a year ago! 2 weeks ago I ran 5 miles for the first time! I hope one day I can run as far as you! You rock!

  15. Kelsey
    September 13, 2010 at 11:58 pm (10 years ago)

    its really neat how that first 5km race really catapults the running relationship for people. theres something almost magical about it, and its hard to forget that first run 🙂


  16. greensandjeans
    September 14, 2010 at 1:13 am (10 years ago)

    Such a great post! I’m so excited to hear all about your big race this weekend!

  17. couchpotatoathlete
    September 14, 2010 at 8:55 am (10 years ago)

    I’m glad you are doing something that you enjoy! I have decided to take a break from running since I don’t like it much these days, but I’ll be back to it soon enough!

    I love the pic of your celery and cherry tomatoes — they look so cute rolling around!

  18. Caitlin
    September 14, 2010 at 9:10 am (10 years ago)

    I love this post! I started running like you – just basically starting with a mile or two, adding time/distance as I worked up. Now I’m training for my first marathon in November!
    I just wrote a post on my favorite mental strategy for when running is tough. I got it from the book I’m following for training (The Non Runner’s Marathon Trainer) and it’s to just tell yourself “it doesn’t matter. You can read my post if you’d like, but the basic idea is that every time you are having a hard run, you are getting tired, or hot, or uncomfortable, or your legs hurt (or any excuse you can come up with! 🙂 you just tell yourself “it doesn’t matter”. It’s really been working for me and helping me get past tough spots!
    Good luck this weekend!!

  19. Brittany (A Healthy Slice of Life)
    September 14, 2010 at 9:24 am (10 years ago)

    I think I’m following your same path! I detested running because I though I couldn’t do it. Now I’m on week 8 of Couch to 5k and jogging for 28 minutes straight. That’s just nuts to me!

    Although my pace is suppppper slow, I’m doing it and am so proud of myself! You inspire me witht he races you’ve gone on to do… I think running a half would be an incredible feeling!

  20. Courtney (Pancakes and Postcards)
    September 14, 2010 at 10:58 am (10 years ago)

    I think the best thing about running is how it is so easy… yet so hard! Always really fun to read how people get started, which is SO difficult, but getting to see yourself progress is the BEST!

  21. Monica
    September 14, 2010 at 3:05 pm (10 years ago)

    Beth, this post is so awesome! I always assumed that you were Mrs. athlete in high school and that you have been running for ages. Your posts make me think you are a natural. I loved hearing your story on where you were and how you got to where you are today.

    I just ran my first 5k on Sunday and had feared doing something like that forever. While I was running and hit the 2 mile marker I thought back to the feeling of wanting to cry in the gym in high school when we were doing our 1 mile test and all the kids were passing me. It was so empowering to finally put that memory behind me and realize that I could be a runner!

    I have always wanted to be a runner and your story has so many parallels to mine and reminds me to keep moving forward with my goals! 🙂

  22. MultipleMum
    September 14, 2010 at 10:16 pm (10 years ago)

    Hi there. I did the C25 earlier this year. I am running my first 9k race this weekend (cross your fingers for me). Just wanted to say because I saw your tweet re: your nephews and my heart sank. I really hope all goes well. As a Mum of twins I feel your sister’s pain. Twins are remarkable people and let’s just hope they make it 🙂

  23. OliePants
    September 30, 2010 at 6:21 pm (10 years ago)

    I absolutely hate running but I do want to give it a go! Thanks for the link! 🙂

  24. Jane
    October 27, 2010 at 2:07 pm (10 years ago)

    Hi! I just found your blog today. I started running in January of this year. I also started out with the C25K program. And I have not looked back. On September 25th I did my first half marathon. I am not speedy, actually I am pretty darn slow, but I just keep going. Everyday, every run I feel like I am accomplishing my goals. These are things that I never thought were attainable, but they are. It’s hard work but it feels great!

  25. Aimee
    September 29, 2011 at 12:47 pm (9 years ago)

    So I know I’m about a year late on this. I just decided to start running again, and was looking up things on the computer and this popped up! I took it to the treadmill today and jogged 28 minutes without stopping, for being my first time running in almost 2 years that probably was not the smartest idea seeing as how I was all light headed and dizzy when I got done. While I was jogging, I didn’t feel exhausted just the muscles in my legs hurt how do I know when im doing too much?

  26. Lauren @YoungNester
    October 17, 2012 at 10:06 pm (8 years ago)

    Very inspiring! I am in the beginning stages of running right now and it’s always nice to hear of people who were in the same condition I’m leaving as well.

    Thank you for posting!

  27. Morne
    February 20, 2013 at 4:30 am (8 years ago)

    Hi Beth. I am so glad I discovered your blog. I’m checking out the C25K link right now. I’ve started a journey of my own and running will form a big part of it, if I recover from these first 2 training days. Wow!! It is so hard to start after years of inactivity. But, I’m motivated, excited and with blogs like yours, I feel encouraged to focus on the journey ahead. Thanks…

  28. Jessica
    March 6, 2013 at 1:35 pm (8 years ago)

    Hello! I just discovered your website this morning and have been reading since. 🙂

    I’ve been thinking about starting to run, but my weight (just over 200) has stopped me. I joined WW 5 weeks ago and love it, but I’m still feeling this urge to start running. I have no idea why, because it’s definitely new! Can you give me any tips/advice on how to get started?


    • Beth
      March 11, 2013 at 9:06 am (8 years ago)

      Hi Jessica! So glad you found and are enjoying my blog! I started running when I was over 200 lbs too, which somehow was about 4 years ago! I would say for starters, do the c25k if you haven’t run before. I think the program is really awesome and it makes you feel confident since it eases into running. There are tons of great apps out there these days so you can actually download an app if you have an iphone (and probably a droid!) that tells you when to walk and when to run and takes the guess work out of it all together. I’d also say to sign up for a 5k in the next few months – having it on your calendar will help keep you on track, and there’s no need to stress about whether you can run the whole time. People of all shapes and sizes run 5ks, and you can definitely walk part of it if you need to. Good luck!!

  29. Mary
    May 19, 2013 at 10:24 pm (7 years ago)

    Thank you for this wonderful post! I’ve been scared to start running, but you’ve given me inspiration to just go for it! Thank you!!!!!


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