A reader (Kelli) posted in my comments a few questions about how I got started running. Rather than make a HUGE response in the comments, I thought I would just write a post about it. Kelli, this is maybe be more information than you want to know, but I would rather give to much information than not enough. Also, this is just my experience, I am by far an expert about running.
To start, I never in a million years ever thought I would start running. I have always felt like I had major physical limitations that would prevent me from running. Specifically, my weight. I have never been comfortable with my size, and I felt that because of that, their were many activities I just would never be able to do, especially running.
Last summer, I joined a gym wanting to start working out regularly, which I had never really done, at least not consistently. I started going two to three days a week mostly just getting on the elliptical. I liked the gym but it was because of the combination of doing the elliptical, people watching, and having my own personal TV. I began to set goals for myself on the elliptical. I would keep trying to speed up and go longer distances everytime.
I am not sure what made me feel like I should start running (besides continuing to try to lose weight). I had friends that were starting to run, so I think maybe I just decided that it would be something good to try. I knew that I just couldn't start running without a plan though, so I did some searching online, and ultimately started using a plan that a few friends were using... Couch to 5k. The first weeks I sailed through and I was really enjoying myself. At Week 3 I hit a real hurdle. I was having problems running for 3 minutes straight. I lowered my speed and ended up making myself a kind of week 2.5. I continued with the program, making adjustments as I needed them and also frequently repeating weeks. It's a 9 week program, and I thinking it took me well over 4 months to even get to week 8 of the program. Right around that time was the Race for the Cure, which I had my heart set on running. I completed the race, but didn't run the entire time. Even with C25k training, I still wasn't running 3 miles without at least walking part of it.
However, I was feeling a big sense of accomplishment so I decided to stick with the running. With C25k training pretty much over, I felt like I needed a new plan to follow. And even though I wasn't super happy with my first 5k, I felt like I could start a bigger challenge. It was also very convenient that there was a half marathon that was roughly 12 weeks away which was a pretty reasonable timeline to start half marathon training. Currently, I am in week 5 of Hal Higdon Half Marathon training.
As of right now, I am very happy with the way training is going. I follow the schedule as best I can, but I often cut out a cross training day if I am sore or just can't dedicate time that day. I also do a lot of walking during my runs. This bothered me before, but I am getting over it. For this plan, you are supposed to be able to run 3 miles easily before you start it, but that wasn't the case for me. Therefore, I am realistic about my performance. If I am able to make it to the half marathon without injury, I know I won't run the entire 13 miles. I am hoping to run the majority at a comfortable pace, but there will also being a decent amount of walking during the race.
This realization leads to my biggest piece of advice for anyone beginning running: Your training is about you and no one else. As I said before, I have several friends that run. They all run a lot faster than me. The fact that I can't do what they do (at this point) used to discourage to no end. I had to keep telling myself that my accomplishments have zero to do with them or anyone else. I have gone from struggling to run 3 minutes straight to now running 30 without having to change my pace. I am proud of that. So just know, it doesn't matter if you run a 10 minute mile or a 13 minute mile (or even slower) the important thing is that you are making the effort.
A book that has really helped me is Running for Mortals. I am only in the first few chapters and it is already a great resource with great beginner information. I wish I had found this book months ago.
I hope this is all helpful, like I said I'm not an expert, this is just my experience. I will be happy to answer any questions.