Sunday, April 15, 2012

Week Fifteen: Running, Albany, New York

Okay, so those of you who know me know that running is something that I do every week.  But with this week’s schedule completely booked, I was unable to venture out, so I thought I’d write about a free thing I do every week.

I like to run but I didn’t always like it.  In high school I played three sports and although I exercised then, I never ran on my own.  In college, I didn’t exercise, gained some weight, and was pretty out of shape.  After studying abroad in London and losing a lot of weight (13pounds!) I decided to start running.  This was around the same time that I started dating Mr. Free Albany, and running became something we did together.  We made it a goal to run a 10k and successfully completed one a few months later.

The past few years my running pattern has been to start running in the spring and to stop once the weather gets cold.  Every spring was always really tough and I scolded myself for hibernating all winter.  I could barely run a mile and was sore for days.

Last spring I decided I wanted to run a half marathon.  The farthest I’d ever gone before was a 10k, so I knew it was going to be a challenge.  And it was.  But it was definitely worth it.

If you’re intimidated by running (like I was), just know that the most important thing is to just start doing it.  Don’t be discouraged if you can’t go far at first, running is hard!  But if you keep at it you’ll see progress in a relatively short time.  In November, I completed my first ever half marathon.  I’ve managed to run through the entire winter (sooooooo happy it was a warm winter) and now that it’s spring again, I’m running in this warm weather and really enjoying it!

There are a lot of great places to run in Albany.  You may want to check out: Buckingham Lake, Hackett Blvd, Washington Park, and the Corning Preserve.  I’ve run all over Albany and learn something new about this city every time. 

Not into running?  There are a lot of other free exercises you can try!  Now, I’m not a personal trainer or a fitness expert but these are just some ideas I know of.

Try doing arm dips with a chair.  Push-ups and sit-ups are also good.  Want to be more flexible?  I used to work with a woman who was a professional ballerina.  I expressed an interest in being able to do a split.  To become flexible enough to do this, spread your legs against a flat surface (a wall works).  Sit so you feel a pull in your hamstrings but not enough to cause you any pain.  Sit like this for ten minutes.  While sitting, your muscles will loosen and you may be able to push yourself forward and closer to the wall (it’s okay if you can’t do this in the beginning).  This really works and your legs will feel amazing!  I like to read for my ten minute stretch although it’s also a great time to listen to music or just sit in silence and meditate.

So there you have it!  This warm weather is a great time to get in shape.  Start slow and just know, if I can run a half marathon, anyone can.

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