I received the following question from a fellow blogger and thought I'd post the answer for all those inquiring minds that want to know. :)
Q: "This summer, I started a walking program with a few friends, mainly to try and develop a healthier lifestyle and shed some pounds. Every once in a while, we'd run about 1/3 of the track, and then we'd have to quit because our lungs were burning. Now that I walk at home on the treadmill, I try to jog a little, just to get my heart rate up, and then go back to my normal 3.0 mph. How long does it take to develop a love for jogging? And for your lungs to stop burning? And to quit feeling panicked because you can't get a deep breath? How does a jogger prepare for a 5K? Can it be done on a treadmill?"
A: Well, first let me just say that I'm honored by your question! I'm am hardly an authority on running, but I will give you opinion based on my personal experience- keeping in mind that it differs for each individual person. This is my rags to running story...
A little over two years ago I decided that I was done living my sedintary lifestyle and wanted to change things up a little. I have absolutely ZERO coordination, so aerobics was totally out; I'm too old to start up gymnastics and too busy to join a competitive sports team. We joined our local YMCA and I had two options that looked appealing to me; play basketball by myself and/or run on the dreadmill...err treadmill. Yes, you can train on a treadmill, but I would encourage you to get outside and run in the open air too. I, personally, prefer running outdoors if you can, but I've run many miles on the treadmill and that's great!
The first time I got on the treadmill with a serious will to acheive greatness- I ran for a total of three minutes and thought I was going to die. Honestly. I had visions of flying off the back of the belt into the wall or on top of some poor unsuspecting person walking by. So, the next time I pushed it and went a whole four minutes. Now, granted- I wasn't running as fast as my legs could carry me... but it was enough. I started off running for 2 minutes and walking for 3 minutes; each day I would increase my total time and over the weeks I'd run more and walk less.
I didn't love running then, but kept it up and slowly increased my time and speed because my goal was a 50 pound weight loss. As I continued to run and maintain a regular regiment of excersize, the burning in my lungs and lack of breath slowly lessened. Little by little I started to enjoy running. You have to push past the point of panic; I find that music can be helpful in stimulating my adreniline to get past the pain. Usually, when I'm running long distance my first 3-4 miles is the hardest and then it eases up for me quite a bit.
A friend of mine suggested that I might enjoy running a marathon and that ANYBODY could do it. The idea was so crazy and so far out from my normal train of thinking that I actually started to consider it. I thought it would make for good conversation and give me a goal. I had never participated in a 5K or even ran much in elementary gym class, but I liked the idea of a challenge. I had lost a little over 45 pounds at the time and wanted to celebrate it with something outrageous.
One thing I would encourage you to do- if you are serious about running- is to find a group of runners in your area that participate regularly in group training runs and events. They don't have to be super elite and hardcore, but if they have the goal to achieve- that will be a great help to you! It's awesome to have friends that you enjoy spending time with walking and conversing with around the track, but if you don't have someone pushing you past your pain point- it's going to be harder to get there. The first time I went out with my running group I had only actually run for one mile straight (an 11 minute mile) at the time. However, with their cheering and coaching along the way, I did a 9 miler that morning! Some of it was running and some walking, but I kept up with the pace and it felt great!
Be careful to avoid injury by not overtraining, but taking it one day at a time. A 5K is a great first time race to train for and it's usually for a great cause! Don't be concerned with your time- just look forward to crossing that finish line! I'm cheering for you!