Kolby Skidmore Photography

I’m so excited to team up with Without Limits and Wrightsville Beach Marathon Madness to bring you some incredible tips on how to make running your thing, or improve if you already love it. 

But first, the backstory. 

Growing up, my mom always told us not to use the word ‘hate’. ‘You don’t hate anyone or anything,’ she’d say. It was true for the most part, and a pretty good philosophy to live by.

But there were a few things I felt strongly enough about to use the forbidden word. Peas. . . and running. I didn’t just dislike it, I absolutely HATED it.

Twice a year in gym class we would have to run a mile. Juuuust one. I typically found a way to fake an injury and get a doctors note to get out of it. A little extra, right?

I always wanted to be one of those people who liked it, but every time I ran I felt like I was going to pass out and die. 

When the Boston Marathon Bombings happened, I told myself I’d run Boston someday. I think a lot of people who call Boston home decided the same thing. But still, I didn’t take a single step to make that happen.

What changed?

Well, work was hosting a fitness expo and wanted some of the journalists to run in a 5K. Not only would I not have to pay for the 5K, but I would get PAID to run it, because I was working. I’m in. 

So I signed up and made it my goal to run the full 3.1 miles without stopping. I didn’t care how long it took. I just wanted to prove to myself I could commit to something and for once, follow through.

On the first of the year I started training for the race. I had twelve days to go from not running at all, to being able to run three miles. For many, three miles is absolutely nothing. For me, it was a lot. After 2.5 I would be purple in the face from being so out of breath, but man, did I feel proud.

On race day I ran the 5K without stopping, and when I crossed that finish line I knew I couldn’t stop there.

Two days later, I signed up for my first half marathon, giving myself just eight weeks to train. 

On the first day of February, just 31 days after I ran my first mile, I ran SEVEN. And LOVED it. 

I’m less than a month away from running Wrightsville Beach Marathon Madness and cannot wait to run alongside at least 3,5000 other inspiring individuals through the most beautiful parts of Wilmington. 

Without Limits

I’ve partnered with Without Limits to bring you expert tips on how to make running your new fave. Believe me, never in my life did I think I’d enjoy it, but it’s totally possible. 

Without Limits offers endurance coaching, hosts athletic events, and has a kickass apparel line.  

I sat down with owner Tom Clifford to have my questions answered by a pro. 

For new runners, what’s the best way to just get started? 

TC: “The more you do it the better you’re going to feel, to an extent. But it does take time. And not every run feels good, and not every first mile of every run feels good. Most of the time the first mile is the worst mile. But once you get to two, and you warm up correctly and you do all the right things you start to find your groove.” 

Tom says the most important part about getting started is just being consistent. He suggests running more than half the week, so four days. Even if it’s just a half mile or a mile each day, consistency is key. 

He also suggests signing up for some kind of race and said a 5K is a great way to start. 

Tom made me a custom Without Limits training plan, outlining how much I need to run and when, what strength and mobility exercises I should be doing, and when I need to rest. It’s been an absolute game changer for my training. 

Once you start increasing miles, what changes?

Tom had so many great tips on this topic. If you’re training for a race like I am, he says planning is key. Meaning treat your long runs like race day. Eat the same thing the night before. Test things out, so when it’s time to do it for real, there won’t be any surprises. 

We talked about running sneakers, which are DEFINITELY important to test out well before. I was initially convinced I could run in my Asics I got at Kohls, but once I got up to about four miles and my feet started to go numb, I knew I had to get legit. 

I’d suggest finding a specialty running store to get help from an expert. I went to Fleet Feet where they took scans of my feet and spent an hour bringing me options that would work best for me. I’m currently running in these Mizuno sneaks and I love them! 

Tom also taught me a lot about nutrition. Before I started running I had no idea that it was important to eat certain things before and DURING your runs. 

Forty-five minutes before a long run I’ll eat these Honey Stinger Waffles (not a toaster waffle like I was originally hoping, but still delish). Once I’m about forty minutes into my run I’ll have a Huma Gel to refuel. I like these because they’re all natural and have chia seeds in them. 

 What’s the best way to build the habit and stay motivated?

TC: “If you run for somebody who can’t or if you have a relative suffering from somebody, the people who do that really have a better experience.” 

He added that feeling grateful for being able to do what you’re doing can make the experience completely different, and I totally agree. 

I never thought I would enjoy running, but it has quickly become the best outlet for my anxiety and a source of so much pride. I was just as proud to finish one mile as I was to finish seven, and I can’t wait to finish 13.1.

Pushing myself way outside my comfort zone and committing to a goal has impacted nearly every aspect of my life. If you’ve been thinking about becoming a runner, or whatever else your heart has been set on, I encourage you to take the leap, and promise you won’t regret it. 

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