Chick Chat: Firsts

Everyone has to start somewhere. When our friend, Shannon, asked us to share some information about first starting out, I thought it would be a perfect opportunity for a Chick Chat!

When did you first start working out – running, walking, whatever?

Cam – I feel like I’ve been working out forever… it started with dance when I was a kid, then swimming and belly dance and yoga when I was a teenager.  I started R.I.P.P.E.D. after I had my daughter and worked with a personal trainer for lifting weights and strength training to lose baby weight.  The running came when my trainer suggested it for cardio.  I was skeptic, but my friend Jana asked me to do this awesome thing called Ragnar and I really didn’t want to be left out.  So basically I started running so I could hang out with my friends.

Victoria – I started walking  – then – running regularly a few years back  as cross training for crew. I first ran a minute, walked a minute. Then increased it to two minutes of each, then three and so on. Soon enough, I ran a mile. Then two. Then three.

Meri – When my elder son was 15 months, I learned of a new franchise called Stroller Strides. Within the first year I had such great success with the program, I went on to become an instructor. During the last seven years, I’ve picked up different classes along the way: Jazzercise and Bikram yoga.

I had a couple of false starts with running, I’d attempted the Couch 2 5k program once or twice. However, I first started actually running two years ago when I got my treadmill. My weight has always fluctuated but with running, I’ve been able to achieve and maintain a healthy weight and that’s important to me.

Jess – I started running in late 2011 because all of my friends were doing it, and they’re pretty cool chicks so I thought “I want to be cool, too!” It’s maybe not the best reason to start up a healthy habit (maybe I should have started because I wanted to be, you know, HEALTHY), but that’s what it took.

My love affair with yoga has been going on for much longer, since 2001 when I took a class my first semester of college. Prior to 2001, I was pretty much a bump on a log. Except when I was dancing, of course!

Bec – About five minutes ago. Okay, no, about 16 months ago, but I’m still very much a newb. All of my adult life, I’ve had an on again/off again relationship with exercise. But if I’m honest, it was mostly off again. I just… didn’t like it. Last winter, I started Zumba and my first C25K attempt right around the same time, partially because I felt like it was time to change my life and my body, and (bigger) partly because, like Jess, all of my friends were doing it. Baaaaah. Hee.

Brooke – I’ve been active my entire life- dancing, running, teaching aerobics, practicing yoga. I’ve gone through phases where I’m less active, or I’m more into one thing than another, but I’ve always exercised. I’m fairly athletic (and competitive, ha), so it comes easy to me. I also enjoy it, which helps!

Vic's first rowing regatta.

Vic’s (middle) first rowing regatta.

What newbie mistakes did you make?

Cam – Newbie mistakes would be under-eating and under-hydrating. I never took myself seriously as an “athlete” and kind of blew off any warnings about taking care of basic needs first. I was a horrible eater and didn’t properly fuel my body. As a result, I’d puke after every race. I now have this complex, when I see the finish, I get nauseated. It’s my greatest fear to toss my cookies in front of everyone at the finish line.

Victoria – One of my big newbie mistakes was not investing in decent running shoes right away. The proper support makes all the difference! I also didn’t understand the importance of replacing shoes every few hundred miles. The tread wears – for me, rather unevenly – so when my feet or ankles start feeling a bit sore, new sneakers are always my first line of defense.

Meri – What newbie mistakes didn’t I make? I started with the wrong shoes that created such pain and blisters that I was absolutely miserable. I figured since I was already miserable, I’d attempt barefoot running, on the treadmill, without any training or preparation. I signed up for a mud run as my first 5k. I didn’t cross train at first and had horrible IT band issues. But I feel like this is all a learning process and you just pick things up as you go. There’s many things that I try once and then say, “Well, I won’t do that again.” But so many more that I try and feel elation.

Bec – So many. All of them? Maybe. I ran faster than I was ready to. I ran longer than I was ready to. I did a Zumba class and a two mile run back to back (owwwwww). But the most common mistake I made, one that I’m still making today, is not trusting my body to tell me what it can handle when I’m running. My body is fine, chugging along, and my brain gets right in the way by thinking we’re not ready for this. Guess which one wins? I’m working on not running “in my head” so much, but that is definitely a work-in-progess.

Cam's first 5k - she's the one chatting on her phone on the far left.

Cam’s first 5k – she’s the one chatting on her phone on the far left.

What do you wish you knew then that you know now?

Cam – I wore the wrong shoes for so long, and lived with horrible joint pain. I wish I would have had my feet evaluated years ago.

Victoria – I initially tended to overdress, and overheat. It’s good to remember you’ll heat up generally 15 degrees while running, so it’s a GOOD thing to feel chilled as you head out the door for a 3-4 mile loop. You’ll warm up five or so minutes in and will be thankful you don’t have to haul extra layers along for the next few miles.

MeriFor so long, I just thought that I couldn’t run. I had such a lack of confidence when it came to running. I wish I’d gotten past that sooner because running is so freeing. To know that I’m capable of running great distances is incredibly rewarding. For me, it’s about doing it and I’m glad that I finally got to a point in my life where I believed and wanted it enough to do it.

Jess – My newbie mistake was giving myself permission not to be amazing at what I was doing from the start. I set really, really high expectations for myself, so it’s easy to get frustrated when I’m starting something new. Learning curves are not for the impatient, but I’ve learned to really force myself to just enjoy the process. I’m not going to be the fastest at the race or the most limber in class, but I can keep learning and growing within my respective practices. That’s what it’s all about!

Bec – That it gets easier. Well, no, it actually gets harder, but you get stronger and it doesn’t feel so hard. Yeah, that.

Brooke – The most important thing, for me, is consistency. You won’t improve if you’re only running once each week. Run easy, run hard, run fast, run slow, run/walk. Just go for a run! At least three times each week, if you can.

Once you finish your run, you have to stretch. Running tightens everything; you’ll feel great the next day if you take some time to loosen up while your muscles are still warm. I usually stretch for at least ten minutes.

Also, find some support! I don’t mean in a bra, or the perfect sneakers (though those are obviously important too). I mean, find a friend to run with you. Find a friend to talk to about running. Most activities are more fun when you have a buddy to do it with you and this sport is no different.

Mer's first 5k, the Philadelphia Down & Dirty mud run.

Mer’s first 5k, the Philadelphia Down & Dirty mud run.

We’re all at different points of our fitness paths. When did you start out? What sort of newbie mistakes did you make? What’s something that you wish you could tell your past self?

7 thoughts on “Chick Chat: Firsts

  1. You guys are all awesome and I have nothing but love for you. <3 I've been exercising my whole life through various activities – ballet/tap/jazz, the gym, swimming, etc. I feel like I fell off the wagon during my first undergrad degree and gained those cliched freshman 15 pounds. When I got into medicine, however, is when I picked up running seriously and I've been way more active ever since.

    As for newbie mistakes, pretty much everything, which resulted in a bad year last year (my IT band/knee and I weren't friends, but we've made up now. I think).

    • Well, as you know, we are quite fond of YOU too! I did ballet when I was younger but had to quit pointe when I tripped going up the stairs (um, yeah), broke my toes, and they found out that I had arthritis in there. It was a sad day in my world.

      Last year was definitely a rough one all around! I’m SO glad that you’re feeling and doing better now, you little speedster.

    • We’re so glad you are doing better Lisa! (hey, we all learn from our mistakes, right?) I’m very much with you. I was active for years….then I wasn’t. weight was gained, spirit spiraled. I am always happier when I am active. 🙂

      Oh Meri! Darn toes! I like that you have use of them though!!

  2. Love this post! I played softball in college and my coach always told me I was a horrible runner. He even added a pinch runner so I never ran the bases. Naturally I thought I was never going to take it up as a hobby, luckily my first boss was training for his first marathon when I started working for him. The whole team from work started running I ran my first 5k in Greece I thought I was a rock star! Now I’m in it for the friends 🙂

    • Hi Audra! It’s amazing how a few ill thought out words can stick with us, isn’t it? I’m so glad that you had someone to counteract that!

      You ARE a rock star. (And I’m in it for the friends too!)

  3. Thank you so much for the inspiration and I’m honored that I inspired the first “chick chat.” I think I see a little piece of myself in each of you. Although I ran for the sports I played in high school, I never considered myself a “runner” (nor do I now.) What I know is that I feel really accomplished after I run (or “walk fast-ish” as I like to call it). So I, of course, follow your blog (even thought I feel like much of what you talk about is completely over my head), I will trudge on because I need to get moving! And who else can help me than the chicks? So, seriously, let’s dumb it down for me… is Couch to 5k the best starting point for me or what? I never trained for anything (when there wasn’t a coach running behind me threatening me to move my A$$!)

    • Let’s smart it up for you, Shan!

      Couch to 5k is a good jumping off point for you. Definitely. Bec’s in the midst of it, I have a high school friend that just wrapped up (and is feeling really good about it!), and it’s just one of those things that if you follow the plan, you’ll get to where you want to be. And if you slip up or miss a few weeks, you can backpedal and jump in where feel comfortable. I’d definitely recommend it.

      Furthermore, then you can post updates on Facebook and everyone will tell you how awesome you’re doing. Or, if you’re not into that, you can message me and tell me your triumphs (which is what my hs friend did!) and I’ll tell you how freaking kick ass you are.

      Everyone has to start someone and let’s be honest, it’s not always pretty but it’s amazing you good you’ll feel, how well you’ll sleep and how you might not even need COFFEE because you’ll have the exercise high going on!

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