I never expected after revealing my fear of running that I would get so many messages from you guys sharing similar sentiments. About three months ago I posted on my Instagram Story that I had started running a few times a week at the gym in hopes of working up to a full mile. Why running? And why just a mile? Well guys, get ready for some TMI because this post is a long one.
This is my fave water bottle— I try and drink 5 bottles a day!
Let’s rewind 12 years ago to gym class my freshman year of high school. I can’t tell you how much I dreaded those two hours every week where we were forced to display our athletic acumen (or lack thereof) in front of all our peers. It was the worst.
Growing up, I was never into sports. I took dance classes as an after school activity, but it was never something I took seriously or planned to continue after middle school. Once I entered high school my focus was on academics and getting into college. So for those of us in gym class who didn’t have an athletic background, the idea of getting graded on playing dodgeball or our participation in a relay race was terrifying.
One of the requirements for every freshman to pass PE was that we had to complete a timed mile. Gym would always begin down at the track where we would practice running. It was co-ed and of course I found myself in class with a group of mean girls. Every time I would attempt to pick up my pace from a walk, they would call me names and make fun of how I ran yelling at me from across the track for everyone to hear.
Since I had never regularly played a sport, I had no idea how to properly run. You would think that our gym teacher would have taken the time to teach us breathing and distance running techniques, right? Nope. We pretty much were just let loose and told the goal was to complete the mile as quickly as possible. Thanks to the kids who showed off, everyone felt pressured to run or jog the entire 8 laps. It basically became a competition game where we all compared ourselves.
To make matters worse, I got my period for the first time at the beginning of the semester. Luckily it didn’t happen at school (someone up above was looking out for me,) but it added an extra layer of anxiety to my already insecure 14-year-old mindset. My mom was so helpful and made sure I had everything I needed to manage my period on my own at school, but it freaked me out thinking about what I would do if my pad leaked during gym class. I was terrified I would become that girl known for walking around with a red stain on the back of her gym shorts.
Did you guys that know that 60% of women wear the wrong size pad? And 80% of women experience leaks every month? Getting my period at age 26 is now no big deal, but as a teen it was nerve-wracking. It took me a while to figure out the products that worked for me and. It can be confusing walking into a drugstore and seeing all different sized pads and tampons and wondering what will actually be comfortable and prevent those dreaded leaks.
So you want to know what the smart folks at Always came up with? Well let me introduce you to the Always My Fit System, which was created and developed to help all women find the right coverage to avoid leaks during both the day and at night.
The Always My Fit System
It’s so true that women aren’t one size fits all, so why would should we all wear the same size pad? Always scientists spent years researching the most common reasons for pad leaks, and wearing the wrong size pad is one of the leading causes. So what did they do? They made life simple. Now Always pads are numerically sized 1 through 5 so you can easily find the right one that works for you. How do you know what size to use? Well there’s a convenient little sizing chart on every pack of Always pads and on Always.com, or you can take this online quiz to figure out your best fit. Now if only this had existed when I was in high school, going to gym class when I was on my period would’ve been much less stressful. I think it’s great that teen girls and women today have so much more useful information like this at their disposal.
So long story short. Yes, I did end up completing that painful mile and passing gym. I can’t remember how long it took as I’m sure I did a combo of jogging and walking thanks to side stickers (like I said, we were never taught breathing techniques,) but the entire experience literally scarred me for life. I left that class vowing I’d never willingly run and that vow stuck until a few months ago.
What changed? Well I have Nick to thank. We randomly were talking about ways I could add a little cardio into my fitness routine and he suggested I trying running a mile a couple times a week. He casually was like, “what’s the big deal, it shouldn’t take you more than 15 minutes?” LOL! I immediately said absolutely not, but after I thought about it I figured what was the harm in trying. I could easily hide on a treadmill in the back row where no one would notice me.
So I did it. I started running and forced myself to keeping going until I saw 1.00 on the treadmill screen. The first few attempts were tough. After a few minutes I would start getting the most painful cramp and have to slow down to a walk. I remember this is what happened when I was younger and I had no idea how to prevent the pain from happening.
Then you guys came to my rescue! I posted on my Instagram Story about my struggles asking for running tips and was bombarded with advice. Social media is a beautiful thing ya’ll! I screenshot every message and started implementing a bunch of the techniques you guys suggested. Fast forward to today, I’ve continued running 2-3x per week and have worked up two full miles! I’ve been getting so many messages asking about my progress and how I did it, so here are a few of the tips I’ve found most helpful.
Running Tips for Beginners
Breathe. I can’t stress enough how important it is to focus on your breathing when running. I’m talking deeply inhaling through the nose filling your stomach with air and taking a big exhale out of the mouth. It seems like common sense, but it’s actually incredibly easy to forget to breathe deeply during exercise. I constantly have to remind myself of it when I’m running and notice a decrease in my stamina when my mind drifts off and I stop taking big breaths. Once I started making a concerted effort with my breathing, my side stickers stopped and I was able to run longer.
Hydrate. I always go to the gym in the afternoons, so all day leading up to my workout I make sure I’m drinking a ton of water. That said, I usually stop drinking about an hour before hitting the gym because having too much liquid in your stomach can actually cause cramps.
Take It Slow. Starting out I was impatient and too focused on time. I was so worried about hitting a mile within a certain number of minutes, I would begin my run going way too fast. By time I reached a half mile I’d be winded and have a painful cramp. Now I start slow with a casual jog and every minute or so bump up the speed a few points, eventually reaching a sprint. Once I started listening to my body I was able to push myself so much more.
Warm Up. Usually I will run at the end of an upper body or core workout when I’ve already broken a sweat, but if not I make sure to stretch for at least five minutes first.
Keep Good Form. It’s amazing what a few small adjustments to your form can do when running. I feel so much more relaxed running when I remember to release tension in my neck and arms and keep my shoulder back.
Alright guys, I know this post was a long one so bravo to those of you who read until the end! I’m so pumped about my running progress and I have you guys to thank– all of the supportive message and tips have been incredibly motivating. Here’s to not letting mean girls, teenage insecurities or period leaks hold you back from achieving a goal 😛
Big thank you to Always for sponsoring this post! #AlwaysAmbassador