Running. This aerobic workout sounds easy enough, but getting started can be a challenge for some. There’s factors like: pace, accountability, conditions and measuring progress. With all of those factors to consider, taking up running can be frustrating. Harrisburg Magazine caught up with the Harrisburg River Runners (HRR) about how they started running and kept going.
In the winter months, it can be very easy to make excuses and stay inside, avoiding that dreaded run that makes noses run and eyes water. Enter 1,700 of Central Pa.’s most determined running enthusiasts and suddenly the excuses disappear. With a group so large, accountability is easy to find and keeps everyone on pace. It also makes a chore feel more like a group hangout with the promise of a hot beverage after a brisk walk or run through Harrisburg’s Riverfront Park.
One member, Joe Church, explains that he didn’t take up running until later in life, proof that not everyone is born a runner. “I started out going to the gym and trying different exercises,” says Church. “I got tired of those things and just couldn’t find anything that I liked.” Spurred by his boredom, Church came up with a plan to run the whole way around Wildwood Park, a three-mile trek with varying terrain.
After a few weeks, Church was able to complete the three-mile run. “I just kept doing it on a daily basis,” he says.
Others have had a different introduction to running. Bonnie Gola says she was never concerned with speed. Gola is a trail runner who chose to run there so she didn’t get bored with running. “I love being in the woods,” she says. As it turns out, setting can also play a huge role in your success as a runner. Ask: Do I prefer running indoors or outdoors? On a track or on a trail?
Runners like Todd Miller and Jenn Newcomer use their competitive spirit to keep running. “I like to play the mental games,” says Newcomer. In a race, Newcomer told Miller he could slow down, but not to let the person behind him pass him. This motivated Miller to power through the last leg of the race.
Miller’s introduction to running came with frustration. After a less-than-stellar 5k run, he set out to beat his previous time. “I ran a 33-minute 5k and that annoyed me because I was fast when I was younger.” After a month of running and spin classes, Miller had his time down to 27 minutes, shaving six minutes off his last race.
One of the most frustrating problems with beginning running is setting a pace. As a few members of HRR point out, with shorter distances, runners can go faster (mile runs, 5ks, etc.), but for long-distance runs (half marathons, marathons, etc.) slow it down.
“I think one of the bigger problems with new runners is trying to run too fast,” say Mike Percherke. In short, set a pace that can be maintained indefinitely. This pace will be relative to the individual.
Running technology like Couch to 5k, Hal Higdon and Strava can help runners measure their progress and map running routes. “Even if you don’t run with a program or an active group, there’s online programs you can follow,” says Gola.
No matter what your start time is, your specific interest or favorite setting, running is an activity that can be enjoyed by all. It will take some time to find what works for a specific individual, but once you get moving, don’t stop.