I always get questions about how I got into running. I’ve always gone through phases with exercise. One year I’m on a class kick, the next three months I love the stair master and sometimes I stick to Youtube videos at home. It wasn’t until I started working out with a trainer and really focusing on a more consistent exercise routine that I started to enjoy a good run. To be clear, I wouldn’t really consider myself a runner. It is kind of just a form of cardio that I landed on and makes me feel good. I don’t like to go crazy long distances and it’s not something that I find myself super competitive about. However, it is something that pushes me to get faster and stronger and I like that.
When I was growing up my girlfriends were amazing runners. Like 8 miles on a Saturday morning was the norm. They all ran track and I was a cheerleader and it was never something I was interested in. Running one mile in gym class felt like a marathon. In college I remember reading a magazine article about the importance of high intensity interval training – raising your heart rate and letting it come back down was a great way to efficiently burn fat. I started doing sprint workouts at the gym but never focused on distance. It was always a great workout! After college I never fell into a good routine with working out and two of my girlfriends (who were amazing runners) encourage me to sign up for the Soldier Field 10 Mile Race over Memorial Day weekend (this was like 9 years ago). I was so nervous but I did some light training and my girlfriends were cheering for me as I ran through the finish line (at least 30 minutes behind them – ha). Running outside was such a different experience and I totally understood why people enjoyed running! Especially living in Chicago where we have miles and miles of lakeshore paths. I slowly started adding more runs into my routine when the weather allowed. Still, it was never something I really focused on or pushed myself to be good at! I just enjoyed being outside and getting a good calorie burn.
It wasn’t until after I had Jack that I decided to make more of an effort to better my body and mind. I started working out with my trainer (2x a week) and making a better effort to do cardio a couple times a week. I first got into a groove with the stair master and then my trainer showed me a couple of sprint circuits on the treadmill that I tried and loved! I find that if I do circuits on the treadmill it not only makes the time go faster but it pushes me to test my strength and endurance. You can see some of my favorite treadmill workouts here.
I always get questions about how I’ve been able to build up my speed and the distance that I can run and I think it is because of the strength I’ve built from incorporating more weight training and also the sprints that challenge my endurance. I find that when I do the sprints, it is much easier to run a farther distance at a slower pace. When I’m running a longer distance (like 5-6 miles) my pace is slower like 6.5mph-6.8mph on the treadmill. If I’m running sprints or a shorter distance I’ll pop my pace up to 7.0-7.6mph. It all depends but I think mixing it up and doing both helps build up your endurance for longer runs and gives you strength for shorter, faster runs.
Ultimately, it’s taken me 16 months to get to this point. I started from square one and I dedicate time to bettering myself by building up my strength and stamina. I think social media can sometimes portray these changes happening overnight (especially after baby) but I hope that I serve as a reminder that hard work can pay off if you stay consistent and push yourself.