Thursday, February 11, 2010

If Mama Sue Can Do It - So Can You

I received a very sweet email this morning from a gal who stumbled across my blog. She asked me some great questions about getting started on your own running journey, and I wanted to share her email - and my response - with you, in hopes that it might be an encouragement to someone else as well!

Here is her email:

Mama Sue!!! I got to your blog from another and have been inspired by your training and even after seeing your cute knitting I decided to finally teach myself to knit!!! i will never be able to do the cute things you do and will only be able to do squares or scarves (if i can last that long) but none the less it has taken my attention away from my want to eat at night!!!!!

From reading your blog I have decided I would like to push myself and run my first 5k. I haven't been the most athletic person in my life. I go to a trainer now but wouldn't call me a work out addict!! I do know I feel better on the days I go see him though. I am not by all means a thin girl either but want to be!!! or at least just want to be fit!!! I am working on that and becoming healthy so after marrying my fiance (finally after being together for 7 years) we can start trying on having a baby!!! Late in life of course at 32!!! But needless to say I have this fear and something keeping my butt from getting on the treadmill. How did you make that first move? How did you push yourself to start? Did you notice a quick change in your weight after starting to run?

I have never been a runner!!! Ever!!!! I don't even remember running that much as a child. but I want to be one!!! I want to do this and have that marked off my list of things I want to do or see if I can do them. I think it will give me that confidence and sense of accomplishment that I so need right now in my life! I have looked at the couch to 5K program and that first week scares me!!!! Why!!!! Is that the best way to start!!!

Whatever help you can give would be great!!! You are an inspiration and I am so looking forward to reading more of your accomplishments!!!!

Take care,

Kelly W
(Bethlehem, GA)

And my response:

Hey Kelly!

Thanks for sharing your questions with me! I'm glad to hear that my story has been encouraging. Believe me, if I can run a 5k ANYONE can. :)

My first attempt at doing the Couch to 5k program actually flopped. I was wearing the wrong kind of shoes, and was trying to start out with trail running pushing my huge baby in his baby jogger. By the first day of week 2 I was hobbling around with stabbing pains in my knees. I gave up and resigned myself to the Curves gym I was a part of at the time. That must have been Sept 2008 or so. I continued working out at Curves until April of 2009, when my husband and I decided to join a gym together that had childcare. We got a personal training package that had one session per month (for each of us) so we could get use to the machines and stuff.

I actually got back into the C25K on accident. :) I was using the treadmills for my cardio when I joined LA Fitness. My basic approach was to just get on and start walking. The treadmills at our gym have a heart rate monitor on them, so I watched my heart rate and aimed to keep it in the "fat burn" zone. The treadmill even had a whole display and chart, so all I had to do was adjust the speed or incline to get myself moving faster. I noticed as the days and weeks went by that I was having to increase the speed more and more each time in order to get my heart rate up. I was getting in shape! Then one day I had to push the speed all the way up to 4mph - which was CRAZY to me at that point. It actually felt more natural to jog a little slowly than to walk quickly. And so, without realizing it, I was jogging. :) I decided I'd pull out my Couch to 5k plan again and just give it a shot. After surviving the first workout, I re-joined an online running group I'd been part of on The ladies there inspired me to keep chasing after my goals and not give up. They even had a half marathon planned for March 2010... in DISNEYWORLD! After surviving the first week of C25K, which I never thought I'd do again, I figured maybe I could dream a little bigger and set a goal to do the half marathon. The gals in the running group reassured me that it was an attainable goal - as it was about a year away. So I looked at race calendars around my town and found a 5k that was 10 weeks out, and then a 10k ten weeks out from that. That way I had some smaller, manageable goals to work towards.

So that's how I got started. :) As far as tips or encouragement for getting started here are some basic things to keep in mind;

1.) Dream big, but start small
You don't have to run a 5k this week, or even this month. You can take your time. It's good to have a big goal in mind, and then to break that goal into smaller mini-goals that you can celebrate along the way.

2.) Plan your work & then work your plan
I'm really motivated by calendars and charts, so I took the C25K program and turned it into a pretty excel spreadsheet. Then when I finished a workout, I'd color it in and celebrate by writing a blog about it. It's good to know the "Big picture" of your total plan, and then to just focus on one step at a time.

3.) Show up
The hardest part about getting my workouts in is getting out the door at going to the gym. :) We've got so many excuses and things that hold us back - you just have to purpose in your heart that you're going to do it, and DO IT. :)

4.) Find a support system
If you have people that you can share your goals with, it helps make you accountable to someone. Plus, it's great to have a big cheering section when you do complete that first workout - or even that first entire minute of running!

5.) Celebrate your victories
One way that I celebrate my running victories is to keep up with my blog. I love to write about my experiences and hear about how they impact other people. You might consider starting up a blog, yourself! Races are also a "reward" for me. Especially when they are in Disneyworld. Haha!

As for your question about my weight - I actually didn't see a quick change when I started running. Weight loss is one of the most simple - and yet complicated - things. Since I started running back in April of 2009 I've lost about 20 pounds (which is on top of the 20 pounds I lost before that point by going to Curves). That weight has come off VERY slowly for me, and in weird little spurts. One pound here, 6 there, gain back a couple, lose a few more, etc. The big change I did see was in my body fat percentage. I recommend asking about that at your gym. Tracking your body fat percentage is really encouraging, because you can see all of the change going on underneath that you don't see on the scale. Running builds major muscle - which makes your body really hungry for protein and good carbs. I've had the most success with weight loss when I am keeping a food journal and aiming to get my calories in at a 50-25-25 ratio. 50% from carbs, 25% protein, and 25% healthy fats. has an awesome calorie counting and meal planning feature. Running - and physical activity - is only about 10% of the weight-loss equation. 90% of it is dealing with the eating habits that got you where you are now. I'm still working on the food aspect of it all - and get overwhelmed with it all pretty easily. But I have noticed that by switching all my carbs to whole-grains (no white flour or white rice), and by focusing on eating vegetables twice a day - that makes a big difference. And I just FEEL better, too. I'll definitely be diving in to the nutrition aspect pretty hard after my half-marathon, and plan on sharing what I learn in the blog - so stay tuned!

As for your running journey - I'd say go ahead and just commit to spending two weeks playing around with the treadmill before you jump in to the Couch to 5k program (unless you want to jump right in!). You can play around with the heart rate monitor stuff and feel the change that happens in your fitness level as you work to push yourself. Then when you're feeling a little more ready to take the plunge - just go for it! You can always repeat weeks or take time off if you need to. The important thing is it get out there and get moving! And maybe invite your fiance along with you?

Feel free to let me know if you have any more questions. :) I'd love to keep in touch and here about how your running journey is going. And if you do end up starting a blog - please let me know! I'd love to follow along and cheer for you.

Best wishes,
Mama Sue

What a blessing to hear that my little blog, and my running journey, has been encouraging to another woman.  Yay!  And I am completely sincere when I say, if Mama Sue can do it - then anyone can do it.  You guys must remember all of the doubt and whining and crazy-talk that I shared when I was pushing for that first 5k, right?  Well if little 'ol sissy-pants Mama Sue can tough it out - you can too.  :)  So do it!

And in case any of you are feeling like trying your first 5k - I highly recommend the Couch to 5k program.  I used a free download from in my i-pod while I was doing intervals.  It was helpful for me to watch the clock at times, but it was also helpful for me to just "trust" the music and push through when I didn't know 100% how much longer I had to run.  :)

If anyone else would like to share their running journey - or ask me questions about mine - please feel free! You can email me at  Who knows - you might even make the blog!

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