Couch to 5k: What Started It All For Me

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Since I’m taking some time off of training for long distance races – I felt like reflecting on what helped me develop the habit of running.

The Couch to 5k program has been around for a while. I think in the last 6 years I had started and quit it many, many times. Why? Well, sometimes lacing up your shoes and getting out the door can be the hardest thing.

In November of 2013 I had recently moved to San Francisco. At the time I was unemployed and had a lot of free time. I also lived in a walkable neighborhood that was hilly, but not too hilly. Between my time, location, and the mild SF weather – I decided to give the Couch to 5k antoher try. I downloaded the free c25k app, and got to it.

The program is built upon running and walking intervals which week by week slowly transitions into being able to run for 30 minutes straight. The app gives you audio cues for when to walk and run, so you don’t have to keep looking at a stopwatch.

A big milestone in the program is Week Five – Workout 3 – which is the first time you run continuously for 20 minutes. After I completed that workout I felt super accomplished and excited.

9 weeks later (January of 2014) – I completed the program. March of that year I signed up for my first half marathon and the rest is history!

I strongly recommend the couch to 5k program for anyone who wants to start running. Even if it takes a few attempts to be faithful to the program – when followed through it can change your life!

New Thoughts on RunDisney Races

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RunDisney is what got me into running races. The 2014 Inaugural Avengers Half Marathon was my first race, followed by the 2015 Dumbo Double Dare, and the 2016 Princess 5k.

I was all set and registered to run the 2016 Inaugural Lumiere’s Challenge – however the presence of Zika in the state of Florida/my pregnancy made me back out (Disney was kind enough to offer a one-time refund due to the circumstances of both things (Zika+pregnancy)).

Earlier in 2016 – RunDisney stopped their deferment option for races – so if one is not able to attend their planned race, he/she will lose out on their money and will not be able to transfer their funds to another race. RunDisney’s new policy is not uncommon. Most races are non-refundable, however most races (especially half marathons and marathons) are not over $150. Add in a challenge and you are talking about a $300+ expense.

In addition to no deferments, RunDisney has now moved up their registration dates. Registration for the 2017 Wine and Dine Half Marathon, which takes place in November, is going on sale this week. It is common for races to sell out within hours, one would have to decide close to 11 months in advance if they are in for these events.

Of course there are other options besides registering directly though RunDisney, so you might be able to postpone your registration date- you could run with a charity, which would require you to raise a certain amount of money to participate. Running for charity seems like it would be a fulfilling way to participate – however fundraising can be challenging. It’s difficult to ask friends and family for donations. I do know many people who hold events like giveaways which gives an incentive for someone to donate.

Another option is to book a race package through a travel agent. Travel agents have access to race registrations and you can sometimes wait a little longer before you purchase them. Most of the time, a room reservation and theme park admission is required for you to purchase as well. Most of the time, this would make sense since you need a hotel room to stay in and most people do plan in spending some time in the theme parks. This option might not be good for someone who lives locally and/or someone who would prefer to choose their own hotel. Some travel agents offer trip insurance which can protect you if you are not able to make your trip.

Back in my young, wild, and free days (about a year ago) I could register for a race around 8 months in advance and be able to attend. With a baby on the way, life is going to get more unpredictable. I would LOVE to participate in a RunDisney event this year, however I just don’t think it’s likely.

When I do decide to jump back in the RunDisney game – I think I am planning to book through a travel agent – since I am an out-of-stater, a hotel room is necessary. I also know I will be visiting the theme parks.

Until then…I will suffer the major FOMO and live vicariously through the numerous RunDisney fanatics who I follow on social media.

How do you register for a RunDisney Race? Do you register through RunDisney, a charity, or do you book through a travel agent?

My Running Gear Essentials

I have been running for a little over three years and while it is a pretty simple sport – there are a few items I have discovered along my journey that I consider “essentials”. If you are in the market for some new gear or just curious as to what other people use, below is what I consider are “must-haves”.

  1. HB Tune Phone Case

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I do most of my training runs and races alone – so listening to music or a podcast is a MUST. I have a short attention span when it comes to listening to music – I frequently change my songs mid-play, or it takes a couple of tries to get the perfect song on my shuffle. Because of that I like to have my phone in my hand, but simply holding on to my phone isn’t comfortable and I risk dropping or breaking it.

Enter HB Tune – a smartphone case that straps to your hand. It comes in three sizes and the website gives phone models as examples as to what size you would need. The phone also comes with an arm strap, so you can utilize it as an armband as well – but honestly – I think I lost my strap and I don’t miss it because I love holding my phone in my hand.

The case also has a pocket in the back for cash, credit cards, and ID. I am also able to fit my house key in here, if I don’t overload the pocket too much. I have been using the same HB Tune for 2.5 years and I can’t see myself ever not using it.

2. Clif Shot Bloks

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When it comes to nutrition during my long runs and races these are my one and only choice. They taste like less sweet gummy bears AND they are gelatin free. My top flavors and Black Cherry (contains caffeine) and Margarita (contains sodium).

3. Nathan Hydration Belt

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 I always carry hydration on runs longer than 6 miles. Since I already have one hand occupied with my HBTune, I prefer to use a hydration belt rather than a handheld bottle. There is also a pouch where I carry my shot bloks. Yes – the belt can weigh me down in the beginning – however I kind of like that – because when I race – I don’t wear the belt, so I usually have a faster time due to feeling a tiny bit lighter.

4. Spibelt

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While I don’t wear a hydration belt when racing – I do wear a Spibelt. Spibelt’s are great for me to hold my shot bloks, tissues, and any other necessities. The belt is so lightweight I sometimes forget I’m wearing it. I don’t put anything too valuable in there (ID’s, money,keys) – as my husband lost his ID once when he was grabbing something else out of his belt. I keep all my important stuff in my HB tune.

5. Bondi Bands

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After I ran the 2016 San Francisco Hot Chocolate 15k I saw a picture of myself post-race and couldn’t help but notice how many fly aways I had in my hair. From that moment on I knew I had to always wear something on my head to manage my hair – if I’m not wearing a hat or visor: I wear a Bondi Band. I love how they come in so many colors and designs – so I can match them to what I am wearing. I also love how they make my hair feel not so sweaty, so if I have an easier run – I don’t need to wash my hair  – just dry shampoo and go!