How I Went From Barely Jogging To Running 160km Per Month

How I Went From Barely Jogging To Running 160km Per Month

I started running a year ago. I had just begun a new job after leaving my own startup. I was tired of being a founder and desperately needed a break. I wanted to have a calmer lifestyle and I wanted a hobby. Running seemed like a great choice for a hobby. As a computer programmer, my brain gets a great workout but my butt sits in a computer chair all day. I thought that a little bit of exercise would balance it out.

I didn’t entirely start from scratch. In the past I had jogged every once in a while, maybe once a month. I had a pair of Nike running shoes that my parents had bought me for Christmas and some grungy workout clothes. On the recommendation of my coworkers, I downloaded the free Nike+ running app for my iPhone. My first run was just 3km at 7 minutes per kilometre. That’s pretty slow. However, for a non-athlete I felt fairly good about it. I jogged a couple more times that week. After a couple weeks of regular jogging, I set a goal for myself:

Don’t quit.

I knew I would never be fast enough to impress anybody so it didn’t make sense to make speed my goal. I could have picked a race to train for, a 5K or half miler, but I knew how those ended. Everyone seems to quit running right after their big race. I wanted to do something different. I wanted to not quit. My goal involved not going too long between runs. If I skipped more than a couple days, wouldn’t that be quitting? So I started running four and five days a week. The longest I went between runs was three days when I was in Hawaii on holidays.

My goal made all the difference. I was still slow, but I could at least feel good that I was running a lot. I’d have good days where I would run fast and feel great but I also had lots of bad days where I was tired and just didn’t feel like running. In retrospect those days were almost better than the good days because they reinforced my goal — I didn’t quit.

I ran my first 5K on Halloween, nearly five months after I had taken up running as a hobby. I wore a costume — fairy wings — and tried to keep up with a random guy with an owl on his head. I finished in 28 minutes and was super happy. I learned that racing wasn’t always about being the fastest, but doing my personal best.

I also learned that there are lots of kinds of runners. I’m definitely a certain kind — the 30-year-old woman who wants to stay fit. There’s also the 20-somethings who ran in university, the middle-aged dads and mums, the older runners, and even little kids. During my next 5K race, my primary goal was keeping up with the 10-year old boy running next to me.

There’s lots of good things about running. I run outdoors so I get some fresh air and occasionally some sunshine (lots of fog here in San Francisco). My favourite part about running is when I do long runs on Sundays. I sometimes pick a cool or weird place to explore and run to that place. I’ve seen the Seward St slides, the tiled steps at Moraga and 16th, the Wind Harp tower, and nearly all of Golden Gate park. Did you know there are two windmills in Golden Gate park? I thought I imagined them after running 10km to get there. Running also gave me a new perspective on my body. I’ve always been so focused on my mind and my body was just something that I lived in. I finally felt that my body had a purpose — to run.

There are lots of downsides to running as well. I sweat a lot when I run. A LOT. I’d come back to the office after a run and the office dog would run up and lick my sweaty legs. I had to stop caring if people saw me all sweaty and gross. Thanks to my slow pace, I haven’t really been injured yet. I have tripped and scraped my knees, more than once. I’ve also lost a couple toenails after long runs and big hills. I’ve learned to keep my toenails short and watch out for gaps in the footpath.

My one-year running anniversary was Saturday, June 8. I had signed up to run a race on the exact day of my first run. Sadly, I never got to run that race, it was cancelled shortly after the Boston Marathon bombings. Instead of running a race on my anniversary, I signed up to run a full marathon in December, hired a running coach and set a regular running schedule. I’ve started to think of myself as a runner.

If you would have told me a year ago that I would be working out almost every day and running 160km a month I would never have believed you. Running really snuck up on me. I had modest aspirations and didn’t really care if I was great at running. I just wanted to stick to my one goal.

Don’t quit.

I ran for a year [Medium]

Leah Culver is an iOS and Python developer, and former co-founder of Pownce, Grove and Convore. Follow her on Twitter @leahculver.

This article has been updated since its original publication.


  • I can definitely think of better (active) hobbies than running.

    Running, in my mind, is simply mind-numbingly boring.

    • suppose thats your point of view. I also find running a bit boring but since I have started running around the local botanical gardens near work I find running much easier and not as boring. Any kind of exercise though can be boring if you let it.

      • suppose thats your point of view. I also find running a bit boring but since I have started running around the local botanical gardens near work I find running much easier and not as boring. Any kind of exercise though can be boring if you let it.

        That’s precisely it. As you said, it comes down to point of view and what works for each individual person. Me personally, I loathe jogging but I do really enjoy cycling (something many have said to me they themselves find to be a mind-numbingly boring activity).

    • That’s just your opinion. I started running not long ago. I also play tennis. I was able to do 5km’s in first month of starting, then 10km within 2 months. Anything longer than 10km gets pretty boring for me. I enjoy clearing my mind, listening to music and knowing that I’m keeping fit and gaining stamina for such a simple thing that most people suck at…running….

    • I thought so too until I got into it. I use it as meditation, I switch off and just watch the trees pass. It relaxes and refreshes me. I also run commute to and from work a couple of days a week, which makes it really easy to fit in a lot of running.

    • Agreed. I hate running. It’s mundane and freaking boring, also horrible on your knees/joints.
      I’ll take bike riding anyday.

    • Yeah it is good that she enjoys it but this low intensity running isn’t the most effective way to build endurance or fitness or lose weight but it allowed her to stick at it for a long time and build a good habit. The main point is that any exercise should be done regularly and consistently to get results

    • Can you list some, please? I don’t like paying to exercise, so I tend to run when it’s cold and swim when it’s hot. Further suggestions are always appreciated.

    • If I am doing cardio I prefer an intense, whole body circuit workout that has me gassed in 30mins. Seems more efficient to me. I can run 10k in just under 40 mins but its boring IMHO (not to mention no workout for the arms). Each to their own I guess…

    • Boring, meditative, boring, meditative. Depends how you look at it really.

  • I took up running a year ago and know exactly how you feel. Its exhilarating getting up before sunrise for a run and there are so many benefits to running in training your mind and body. Its great you haven’t had any running injuries – its one of the most frustrating things about running. Maybe I should slow my pace down also like yourself. Keep it up!

  • I’m right behind you on the running ….last year would have laughed if you said I was going to be running 5Ks. It brings an inner peace and satisfaction to come back to lunch dripping wet after running while others have gorged themselves on cheeseburgers. And then I’m not feeling guilty if I do too some days. Thanks for the great article !

    • That’s funny, I feel a sense of inner peace and satisfaction when I’m sitting at lunch relaxing with my meal and someone else has come in from a run all puffed and sweaty 😛

  • Inspiring story. I just started running with my daughter, 3 runs under my belt now. I think I’ll keep going!!

    • I run with my daughter too. I say “with”, it’s more “after”. Getting her to go to bed can be a real pain! 🙂

  • Well done! Great to see others finding a love of running. I’m not a big sweater but I had to laugh when you mentioned the dog licking your sweaty legs as my two labradors go to town on me when I get home if they’re allowed.

    I understand some people find running boring but I don’t understand WHY. Some people like to zone out while running to music or something, but I run concentrated, actively thinking about what the run is intended to achieve, what it’s doing for me etc. The mind wanders of course, but it always comes back to the run. I also love long runs, particularly since I started running with a group at the weekend. A 2 hour run full of conversation is a great start to a Sunday morning.

    When I started running 4 years ago I couldn’t run a 1km lap of our local park, this month I will complete my first 400km month with my longest run having been 29km. Running has radically improved my fitness and there’s very little i’d stop running for.

    • The only thing that stopped me from running was injury (I ramped up my weekly distance slowly to 60km per week but it still happened 🙁 ). Took 3 months off and these months without running were incredibly boring and depressing. I love running and I do it without music or anything. I’m not a very social person so running for me is some good time off.

      I now run much less (and try to mix trails in these runs) and do other stuff on the side instead to prevent further injuries, but I still do run around 20km per week.

  • And on the plus side… running is so much faster than walking!! Why walk when you can run. I just run because it’s quicker lol! But I think I am the only one.
    Going to the car… run
    Taking out the bins… run
    It starts raining…. run. Sure you get more wet than if you were to walk[mythbusters?], but hey! It’s still faster!

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