Had you told me as a child that I would ever run for fun, I would have probably laughed so hard and for so long. Growing up, I had severe asthma and anything in the great outdoors triggered it. I had accepted that “being athletic” was never going to be my thing.
It wasn’t until 2011 that I had a simple, yet life-changing thought that inspired me to change my life:
“I would never survive the zombie apocalypse.”
I know, I know. This isn’t exactly inspiring or even remotely poetic, but I was so angry at the thought of being zombie food. I would totally survive the zombie apocalypse if I could simply run. So I ordered running sneakers, made a killer playlist, and read every blog on how to run. I went from not being able to run for longer than a minute to running four half marathons. Since Running Universal’s Epic Character 5K and 10K races are around the corner, I wanted to write my very own blog to share tips that will help others run Universal’s Epic Character races.
SIGN UP FOR THE RUN
That was the biggest milestone for me. No longer was I thinking and planning about signing up for a 5k. I had actually done it. The truth is, if I waited until I felt ready I never would have signed up.
Today, signing up for races is one of my favorite activities. Not only does it keep you accountable, but you can begin preparing with a timeline in mind. It gives you tangible goals to strive for and gets you hyped up for a run. Extra bonus points when you sign up with a friend because then you automatically have a training buddy.
So, if you’re on the fence about signing up for Running Universal’s Character 5K or 10K run, don’t be! Reach out to friends, make an Instagram Story, create a Facebook post or use a carrier pigeon. I guarantee someone else wants to run this inaugural race and is just waiting for a running buddy to reach out i.e.: you.
REPEAT AFTER ME, “I LOVE RUNNING!”
“Fake it till you make it” is a cliche for a reason. And that reason is because it works. When I approached running as a chore, it became one. So, I retrained my brain. I lied enough until it became true. And wouldn’t you know it? I love running now.
I used to say this through clenched teeth with a sarcastic smile and heavy eye-roll, but eventually, it became something I believed.
Maybe it was simply the fact that it became routine, or perhaps it’s because I achieved my goals, or pushed past my own limits. Maybe it was the endorphins. (What’s that saying again? “Exercise gives you endorphins and endorphins make you happy.”)
Who knows, after you train for Running Universal’s Character races, you might start craving a good run after a long-work-day-and-even-longer-traffic-day. I can see it now, runners around the world training to outrun velociraptors.
TAKE IT ONE STEP AT A TIME
You can’t force yourself to run one mile overnight. When I first started “running”, I would actually “wog”. Yes, that’s my cleverly created and credited word that is a mixture of walking and jogging because that’s about all I was capable of at the time. And that’s OK!
Months after wogging, I found myself being able to simply jog without breaks. On one particular day, I ran my heart out until my running app blared celebratory horns through my headphones. It turned out I ran my first consecutive mile.
The point is to just be kind to yourself and remember that running is a continuous process of not giving up and it’s mostly mental. Try switching between walking, jogging, and sprinting. Now, again. Make it routine. Before you know it, you’ll be training for an Ironman in the Serengeti. Not quite there yet? Don’t worry, Universal Orlando Resort has running trails throughout the destination to help you train. Tap here to get a map of the jogging trails.
NEVER SKIP YOUR WARM-UP AND BREATHE (YES, I SAID BREATHE)
Never skip a warm-up or good stretch. Running injuries are very real and can happen if your body isn’t prepared. As someone who has had non-running related workout injuries, I’m a big advocate for stretching. Work on some basic warm-ups or even start with a brisk walk to warm up your muscles.
And breathe! This might sound silly, but when people begin to run, breathing goes out the window. In fact, many new runners breathe from their chest instead of their diaphragm. This causes new runners to gasp for breath and experience tightness, or pain in the chest or back. The solution? Get into a routine that allows you to run in step with your breathing. I start by inhaling through my nose for two steps and exhaling from my mouth for two steps. This will create a steadier pace, calmer mind, and allow for endurance running. Look up 2:2 running pattern if you want to learn more about this.
MAKE A KILLER RUNNING PLAYLIST
A playlist will make or break your run. This isn’t only coming from me, this is just science. The BPM (beats per minute) will keep your breathing and running pace in a consistent zone, so you won’t over- (or under) do your workout.
My personal favorite is a playlist full of songs that are high BPM’s with low ones.
You did it! Or, well, you’re going to do it.
Reward yourself with new workout clothes, a Voodoo Doughnut, or your next fun race. In this case, as I’m prepping for Running Universal, I will be rewarding myself with a themed Universal running outfit.
I’m not going to lie, this is also for the fun pictures I’ll be able to take around Universal Orlando Resort. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that I like doing races that have exclusive views and character moments. Did I really run if I didn’t take a character photo? It’s so cool to have been a part of an experience that not everyone participates in. Oh and plus, did I mention the medals? I promise they look so cute you’ll want it for your own collection. I’ve started collecting my medals, so I’m always so excited by the races I’ve completed.
So thank you, zombies, and the hyped-up media apocalypse of 2011 for making me into an athlete. If it wasn’t for that, I would still actively avoid any and all forms of running.
Tell me, what are you looking forward to most for Running Universal’s Epic Character 5K and 10K Race? Share your tips and excitement in the comments below.