In July of 2004, PPMD initiated the Run for Our Sons fundraising program. At that time I was a casual runner and had never considered running a half or full marathon, but soon found myself in Florida with other PPMD family members and shoulder to shoulder with people I assumed lived on bottled water and Tic Tacs. It was very rewarding and also an eye opening experience. Being part of a successful fundraiser with other families gave me the feeling of really helping the community. Unlike the PPMD Annual Conference, the atmosphere was less intense – although parents still talked about research, care, and life affected by Duchenne, the boys who came made new friends. The barriers were down and it was a wonderful, and even liberating feeling being with others who lived with the same challenges. The race was our tool to raise money, yet the ancillary benefit was developing another cohesive part of our community.

The race also presented many new opportunities and challenges. Prior to signing up I had only been running eight to ten miles weekly. The longest distance I completed before racing at Disney was eight miles. To say I was unprepared is an understatement. I finished proud of my accomplishment, yet feeling like I had been run over by a bus. Over the past several years I made a point to learn more about running and have raced in over seventy races, including seven marathons (26.2 miles) and ten half marathons (13.1 miles). I regularly train with a group of experienced runners who share information that has helped me to be a better runner. Having someone encourage me and provide good advice has made a difference for me. Beginning with this post, I will write about what I have learned in hopes more families will take part in the Run for Our Sons program while feeling more confident about their training and ability to make it across the finish line.

How to get started!

Whether you are interested in participating in Parent Project MD’s Run for Our Sons program or just have a desire to get more exercise, every run begins with some pretty basic principles. Before looking at any training program, please talk to your doctor and begin slowly. This is good advice for anyone, regardless of age, who wants to begin a new exercise program.

Get appropriate running shoes. It doesn’t matter if your plans are to run, walk, or use some combination to participate in the RFOS program. You will be on your feet a lot and good shoes will mean the difference between sore legs, a tired back, and other aches and pains. Ask friends or family about what places offer good advice and stand behind their shoes. A reputable local running store can often analyze your gait and check your feet for a shoe that meets your needs. The prices of good running shoes may be a bit surprising, but remember you should be able to use them for three to five hundred miles.

Register for an online running log or use a notebook to record your workouts and miles run and or walked. The best way to stay motivated is to have goals and keep track of your accomplishments. A training log can bring you satisfaction when reviewing your past workouts and provide some directions about where you need to make changes for improving areas you believe need help. A great, easy to use log is available on the Running Ahead site: http://www.runningahead.com. Other runner specific sites have similar logs where you can record as much information as you desire.
Find a partner. Most people continue activities without some support. This can be as simple as finding a family member or friend to run with you or participating in an online running forum. Sites such as Runner’s World: http://www.runnersworld.com/ or Runango: http://www.runango.com/forums/forum_show.pl have beginners and other forums where people are willing to listen, offer encouragement or advice to keep you going.

Set goals. If you have never run, or it has been a long time, use telephone poles as reference points. Begin by walking the distance between two or more poles then run the distance between one. Increase the times you run as you feel stronger. Beginning slowly helps prevent shin splints and other aches that signal working too hard, too quickly. Keep in mind why you are running and be realistic about what you want to accomplish. Instead of saying “I want to lose weight” or “I need to run more”, begin with “I will drop five pounds this month” or “I want to add two miles each for the next month.” Goals that are too aggressive are discouraging and those that are too easy do nothing to motivate.

I hope this motivates you to join the Run for Our Sons Team. Consider posting how you are doing with your training on the website and it might help encourage others.

Brian

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