Developing a Taste for Brussels Sprouts — and Running

For years, the only way you could get me to eat Brussels sprouts was if you paid me — and the only way I would run is if I was being chased. But oddly, both my taste in veggies and workouts changed at about the same time.

A few years ago, I made a conscious decision to start trying more veggies. And when I opened myself up to trying them, I realized how delicious things like Brussels sprouts are. (Click here for a blog where I provided a simple and delish sprouts recipe.) Starting to run was not quite as voluntary — it was more out of necessity.

Around the same time, I wasn't teaching group fitness classes and didn't have access to a gym for a few months. After years of relying on spin, step and cardio kickboxing classes for my cardio, I knew that running was the only gym-free activity that would allow me to get the kind of calorie burn I was used to.

Thankfully, I started running in late fall, which made things a bit easier given that even the most seasoned runner can dread going out in the Atlanta heat in July. I took the baby steps approach and mixed running with walking.

For example, I'd walk to warm up for about two minutes, run for 10 to 15 minutes and then walk for the remaining time so that my workout time would be an even 30 minutes. As running became easier, I began running more and walking less, until I was able to run for the full 30 minutes. I even ran my first 5k last year (in the photo, that's me and my buddy, Mark, after the race). 

Now, I usually run for 30 to 45 minutes, two to three times a week. Sometimes it's on the treadmill at the gym and other times it's around my hilly neighborhood. Some days my legs are light and I can run forever, and other days I'm begging my legs to cooperate and at least get me through 15 minutes (once I get over the initial hump, I always seem to end up doing 30 minutes). Regardless, if I don't go for a run at least once a week, I feel like something is missing.

Before I leave you, here are a few of my top tips when it comes to a successful run:

  • Music makes you move. I make playlists for my iPod that are 30 minutes or an hour in length to match the amount of time I want to run and/or walk. Click here for one of my current favorite playlists.
  • Shoes can make all the difference. If the tread on your sneakers is almost nonexistent, please go pick up a new pair before you start running. A pair of running shoes — I'm a fan of New Balances — with good cushioning makes for a much more pleasant run and recovery (more on my favorite running shoes to come in a future blog).
  • Switch up your course. When you're easing into a running routine, flat terrain is good. But I am forever looking for new running routes that include hills. When I run on the treadmill, I will alter the speed and incline based on the song I'm listening to. So if it's a fast-paced dance tune, I will do sprints, or if it's a slower song with a good beat, I will "climb a hill" by gradually increasing the incline one step every 15 to 30 seconds.

If you have any running experiences or tips to share, start a conversation on our Facebook page or in the Comment section. Until next Tuesday — stay FWABulous!