How To Complete a 5K

About two months ago, my friend asked me if I wanted to run a 5K to benefit a local organization that serves the homeless. photo 1

My first thought was, "wow, he must think I'm a pretty good runner" and my second thought was, "I could totally do that".

And so I said yes.

And then I forgot to run to make sure I could run a 5K. For those who don't know, a 5K is equal to 3.1 miles. I wasn't entirely sure I could run 3.1 miles. Saying yes made me commit to the idea that I could and would be able to do it.

Did you ever have that same experience? Where you weren't completely sure you can do something but something about agreeing to it makes it become more likely or possible?

So here's what happened, with my tips for how to complete a 5K:

1) make sure you can run/jog/walk somewhere close to 3.1 miles: 6 days before the race, I ran 2 miles with ease. The night before, despite feeling a little low, I ran another 2 miles without dying or hacking up a lung. I figured I was good to go.

2) set clear intentions: the morning of the race, I showed up and decided to do my best. It was the first time I was doing something like this. Do you get a rush from doing something new? I do. It sort of doesn't matter what happens because I figure, hell, at least I'm doing something new. Might as well enjoy it!

photo 2

3) be real about what YOU can do: the other guys on my team were all near 6' tall so they took off with their long legs striding well ahead of me. I decided, in that moment, that this experience wasn't about winning or even keeping up. It's about doing it, completing it, honoring my commitment to show up and do it the best I could.

4) take in the scenery: fueled by the energy of almost 1,000 other runners surrounding me, and people on the sidewalk, waving and clapping, made me smile. The weather was nice, my playlist was loud and fast-paced and I was happy bouncing along at my own pace.

photo 3

5) listen to your body: around the 2 mile mark I got a serious cramp in my side, which was interesting because I never cramp when I run. I slowed down. I noticed the people running around me. I felt grateful to be running, to have a body that has been through a lot in the past year but was running this race, anyway. The cramp passed and I sped up a little. More inclines came and I took them with ease. Something turned in my stomach and I almost started crying--it was so powerful! I realized I had run most of the way and I didn't need to stop. My legs and lungs felt stronger than ever. I realized that I was going to finish this thing and finish it strong.

6) give it all you've got: I sped up in the last leg, passing about 30 people on my right. I had no idea about my pace. It didn't matter. I saw the gate at the end, waiting for me. People were cheering, I pushed myself to a near-sprint across the finish line and notice my time is about 30 minutes. I said out loud, "good job!" and gasped for air.


this is me, gasping for air a the Finish line

I don't know how many more 5Ks are in my future, but it sure felt good to say "yes" and do it. My official time was 29:09, which is pretty darn good for someone who runs less than once a week.

I was left with the awesome possibility of what I could have done if I ran more often...

Share your stories of running or any time you tried something new or met a goal you set for yourself. I love inspiration!



Meditation on the Treadmill--wha?

Guest post by Victoria Ellis. She's a student at Lesley University and she's interning with me this semester and rockin' at it.  

I am one of those people who cringe when thinking about running on the treadmill.  The thought of staring straight ahead of me out the window looking onto the quad on the main campus of Lesley University proves itself to be difficult for me because I do not like to stay on the treadmill for longer than two minutes.  On the very first day of training, I hopped on the treadmill to begin my seven-minute warm up.  Just two minutes into the run I looked down at the clock and could not believe how tired and dry my mouth was from just two minutes on the treadmill.  I knew that moment that I needed to change my attitude about the treadmill before running on it could get any easier for me.

I usually do not have to get on the treadmill because I am from Southern California and can run outside year around.  But because I am an athlete in Cambridge now, I have to get on it quite frequently.  The feelings I used to have towards the treadmill were negative, which hindered my fitness tremendously.  I see girls able to run on the treadmill for hours, and I pant after just two minutes.  It is embarrassing sometimes.

We began training about six weeks ago for our spring soccer season and we have a gym workout (including the treadmill) three times a week.  My total time spent running  s p r i n t s  on the treadmill totals about an hour and a half per week, so as you can see I have become very close to the treadmill.

Instead of hating the treadmill and avoiding that part of the workout (because it is mostly unsupervised) I decided to take this spring soccer season as a chance to become more familiar with the treadmill and strategies to make running on it easier for me.  During the past six weeks I adapted to the treadmill and I would like to share my technique with you!

Meditating.  Instead of thinking about how I DON’T want to be on the treadmill, I began to become aware of my body and my thoughts.  I would find myself wandering from topic to topic, body part to body part, and before I would know it my warm up would be over!  Time flies when I focus my mind on other things while on the treadmill.  After about three weeks of struggling on the treadmill, I noticed a change in both my health and my attitude about running.  This proves the rather new concept of psychoneuroimmunology, where the body is affected by the mind and vice versa.  My thoughts improved as my physical fitness improved and vice versa.

Meditating connected my body with my mind, which allowed me to increase my time and speed while running on the treadmill.  I used to think that meditating needed to be done in a quiet room while sitting on a pillow cross-legged, but it can be done while exercising too!  I highly suggest for those who want to increase their capabilities on the treadmill to meditate and run on it for three weeks, like I did, and see what happens.  Now I am on week six and now the treadmill does not even faze me.  Changing my thoughts about the treadmill helped me stay on it for longer.

Pedal Power

See this?

This is my precious.

In 2006, my old beloved bike was stolen. Don't be too sad, it's my fault. I left it outside overnight "locked up" on the Boston city streets with a pathetic excuse for a lock.

I mourned. I grieved. Then, I bought this fixed gear bicycle you see above. Why a fixed gear, you may be wondering?

I wanted to be cool. Not much more complicated than that. Anyone who buys one and doesn't confess the same motive might not be telling the truth. I'm kidding. People have all sorts of reasons for doing what they do. If they are riding a fixie, ask them why!

I simply wanted to know what the big deal was after years of riding bikes with tons of components, derailers, shifters and gears.

A fixed gear bike is awesome because there are less parts to get dirty and/or fix.

Exhibit A:

how many parts are on your bike?

It's almost spring and whether or not you buy a fixed gear bike, I highly recommend you get something with two-wheels soon and bring some pedal power to your spring season.

Here's three reasons why :


if you don't have a car like me, commuting can suck. I was adding an extra 10 hours to my "work week" by commuting almost an hour each way, 5 days a week.


not only was my commute time getting me down--10 hours is a big loss!--but I also wasn't getting much exercise, either. Tendonitis in my shoulder has me grounded from lifting heavy things for a while--goodbye, gunshow--so my gym membership is pretty useless because I'm not a treadmill person. Biking 4.5 miles each way today gave me a TON of energy and boosted my mood like 8,000 points. That was one day. Imagine what doing this daily will do for my spirit?!


I'm not sure where you live, but I live in a city. And I commute in city traffic. During rush hour. If ever I needed a boost of confidence, getting from my front door to work and back home again makes me feel pretty damn brave. And cruising past all the large metal machine, and the people in them, caught in traffic? Feels awesome. What joy can biking bring into your life after work, school or on weekends?

Get a bike. Be car-less!