Near Innsbruck, Austria

So, I started jogging.

That’s my big confession.  Not much of a confession, you say?  Ok, here’s my confession:  I can’t jog.  Not good enough for you?  Well, I can’t do push-ups either.  Not one.  Not even the girlie kind on my knees.  I don’t like to tell people that because as far as I can tell, I’m pretty much the only person in the world who can’t even do one measly push-up.

But back to the jogging.  I really can’t jog.  Even in Junior High, back when kids were still encouraged forced to exercise in school, and Ronald Reagan wanted me to be able to jog a mile around the school track, I couldn’t do it.  I wasn’t overweight.  I just wasn’t a jogger.  And I couldn’t do enough sit-ups either.  So I hated P.E. class and I hated that Presidential fitness program because it always seemed like I was the only one who couldn’t run the mile, who couldn’t complete enough sit-ups, who couldn’t do the pull-ups.  And if push-ups had been part of that program, I guarantee you that I wouldn’t have been able to do enough of those either.

That stuck with me.  Those exercises weren’t part of our daily school P.E. regimen so I never had a chance to improve or see that it was possible to get in better shape and to actually score well on those fitness tests.  Instead, I labeled myself ‘non-athletic’ and trudged through five more years of Physical Education classes, dreading fitness tests and hoping I would never be singled out.

Does it sound like I’m blaming Ronald Reagan for the fact that I’m out of shape?  Well, I’m not.  I think we need fitness programs in schools now more than ever.  I just wish I had come away from those junior high P.E. classes with confidence and knowledge of how to improve my athletic ability instead of feelings of inadequacy.  But I guess Junior High is all about feelings of inadequacy anyway.

So, back to present day.   After years and years of believing that I just can’t do it, I decided to start jogging.  Being married to a bad-ass Navy EOD Tech for 8 years, I’ve become quite familiar with the inside of a gym.  I’ve slowly overcome most of my “I just can’t do it” feelings that used to be associated with all sports and/or fitness equipment.  But jogging and push-ups are two things that I just haven’t conquered.  And yes, there is still some shame and embarrassment attached to it.

So why am I announcing this to thousands of strangers?  Accountability, for one.  If you all know that I’m working towards a goal of jogging for 30 minutes straight, perhaps I’ll be less likely to give up when the going gets tough.  But the other reason I’m sharing this is that I  know I’m not the only person in the world who can’t jog and I’m probably not the only one who can’t do one stupid push-up (I’m hoping that at least one of you will admit that and make me feel better about my shocking lack of upper-body strength).

I’m not saying that everyone should be out there jogging.  It’s a personal choice.  For me, it’s something that I’ve always wanted to be able to do.  I have no desire to turn into a competitive runner, but I would like to be able to go for a jog with my husband.  I want to be able to complete a 5K and get one of those ugly free t-shirts.  I want to burn more calories and I want a healthier heart.  Also, I want to lose some of the weight I’ve put on since moving back to the United States.  And I don’t do diets.

So I’m going to share with you the walk/jog program that I started a few weeks ago.  There are several versions of this type of program out there; they are generally 10-12 weeks in length and move you gradually from walking to jogging with the end goal being 30 minutes of nonstop jogging.  After 3 weeks of doing this, I’m really not sure if this particular program is a good fit for me, but I’ve decided I’ll just repeat week three until I feel like I’m ready to move on.  I’m not gonna lie, week three really sucked.  But I’ve decided that it’s not important how long it takes me to complete the program, as long as I eventually do finish it!

Bud Coate’s Ease into this Running Program

Before you start: get your legs ready with eight days of walking:  Walk for 20 minutes a day for the first four days, then increase to 30 minutes a day for four more days.

Each week of the program, do your run/walk workouts on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday.

Take a rest day or an easy walk on Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday.

WEEK 1:  Run 2 minutes, walk 4 minutes.  Complete 5 cycles.
WEEK 2:  Run 3 minutes, walk 3 minutes.  Complete 5 cycles.
WEEK 3:  Run 5 minutes, walk 2 ½ minutes.  Complete 4 cycles.
WEEK 4:  Run 7 minutes, walk 3 minutes.  Complete 3 cycles.
WEEK 5:  Run 8 minutes, walk 2 minutes.  Complete 3 cycles.
WEEK 6:  Run 9 minutes, walk 2 minutes.  Complete 2 cycles, then run 8 minutes.
WEEK 7:  Run 9 minutes, walk 1 minute.  Complete 3 cycles.
WEEK 8:  Run 13 minutes, walk 2 minutes.  Complete 2 cycles.
WEEK 9:  Run 14 minutes, walk 1 minute.  Complete 2 cycles.
WEEK 10:  Run 30 minutes.

Note:  You may stretch out this schedule to include 2 weeks at a certain level if you feel tired after completing one.  Do not be tempted to shorten the schedule.  Remember, you are aiming for 30 minutes of uninterrupted running, not a distance.  Run as slow as you need in order to reach the goal.

From Complete Book of Running, Amby Burfoot, editor, 1997, Rodale Press

As I said, there are plenty of walk to jog programs out there.  A very popular one is the Couch-to-5K Running Program.  That program promises to have you running 3 miles in just 8 weeks.  Another is the 12-week Beginning to Run plan at Eat Better America.  Speaking from experience, I think a 12-week plan is more realistic for those of us who have never been joggers.

Regardless of which plan you choose to follow, remember that you can always repeat a week if you aren’t ready to move on.  The point of these plans is to ease yourself gradually into jogging, not push yourself too hard, become discouraged and give up!  Do you like how I’m assuming some of you will want to do this with me?  Come on, you know you want to!

Well, if you do want to give this a try, here are some tips/suggestions:

  • Get some new running shoes.  I’m serious.  Go to a running store if possible and get the right shoes for your foot.
  • Get a heart rate monitor.  I know not everyone can afford to run out and buy all this fancy new gear.  But heart rate monitors have really come down in price and I think it will help with your motivation. By using the heart rate monitor, I’ve been able to see improvements in my heart rate before I can actually feel a difference.  It has definitely encouraged me even if I haven’t seen much improvement anywhere else.
  • Run on the right surfaces.  A treadmill is actually a really good place to start.  You are in a controlled (read: air-conditioned) environment, you can keep a water bottle within arms reach, and you might even be able to watch television.  But if you don’t have access to one, or are too embarrassed to start your huffing and puffing in front of people at the gym, try running at a school track or find a flat running trail.  Just try to stay off hard surfaces such as concrete.  That means no sidewalks!  Running is hard on your joints, hard surfaces make it even worse.
  • Quit being self-conscious!  Don’t worry about what other people think.  Everyone has to start somewhere.

Now for the push-ups.  I don’t have a specific plan.  I’ve been back at the gym for about a month and am slowly building my strength up with weight training.  My goal is to do ten push-ups by the end of the year and I am confident that it won’t be a problem.  I’ll let you know when I complete my first one (I’m about halfway there).

Now let me tell you about that beautiful photo at the top of this page.  When we lived in Sicily, we had the opportunity to travel to several other countries in Europe.  That photo was taken on a weekend trip to Austria.  My husband was in Stuttgart, Germany doing some training and I flew up there to meet him for our wedding anniversary.  We drove to Innsbruck, Austria for the weekend and this photo was taken on a day trip to a place called Walderalm.  See that little road leading into the Austrian Alps?  That is where I like to imagine I am jogging when I’m on the treadmill at the gym.  And next time I visit Austria, I think I’d like to jog down that trail instead of walk.

And who wouldn’t want to run when at the end of the trail you can sit down at this table and enjoy fresh cheese from the dairy, a cold beer, and the view of snow-capped mountains all around you.

View from the Dairy

  1. Steph

    Austria!!! Ahhhh i miss it so! And how funny i also picture being back there to relax and when i was walking…which i will be doing again soon. Is this Innsbruck? I am in love with all of Austria..and hope to go back when Ian is older. And thanks for posting the tips on jogging..great info.

    10:20 am  Aug 9th, 2009
  2. Sarah

    Good luck with your running endeavors! I run often (Marines have to run) and have recently come to really enjoy it. It is a great way to release stress…good luck!

    10:49 am  Aug 9th, 2009
  3. Nanette

    Can I join the “I can’t even do one girl push-up club?” Your photos are just beautiful!

    10:56 am  Aug 9th, 2009
  4. Courtney

    Good luck with running, I have no doubt you can do it!

    Can I also stress the new shoe thing? Soooo important. If you can have someone measure your gait, even better!

    Also, now I want to go to Austria.

    11:06 am  Aug 9th, 2009
  5. Sarah

    I don’t run, or jog. I hated the “fun-run” in jr. high and high school. It wasn’t “fun.” But in college I did a similar regimen to get myself running. One day, about two weeks into it, it was time for me to slow the treadmill down and walk – I didn’t want to. So I kept running (jogging) and did for 30 minutes straight. I loved to run after that. Only… I stopped because I got sick for a week, and now, I can’t… again. My point is – you can do it! And you will probably learn to love it!

    11:06 am  Aug 9th, 2009
  6. mama K

    Nope, I can’t do a push up either. What I do, I call “Peel ups” where I sort of peel my body up off the floor inch by inch, up to about my hips. I usually do one. One is enough. By then I am laughing too hard to do any more exercise at all. If anyone else is around, they are laughing pretty hard, too. Laughing is good exercise, isn’t it?? I just think how fit we are all going to be with all this good hard laughing going on!!

    11:50 am  Aug 9th, 2009
  7. Dallas

    You give a good sales pitch. I’ve been wanting to learn to jog and had been looking at the Couch to 5K plan. I just got back from a long trip (including through beautiful Austria scenery like you posted) so maybe now is the time to get started.

    12:21 pm  Aug 9th, 2009
  8. Ashley

    I’m not entirely convinced that jogging is ever fun, but I’m definitely trying like you are. I’ve been jogging for 3 months and can finally go without stopping for 25 minutes. Granted, this is going at a very slow pace. Just keep it up, and know that there are plenty of people out there that feel the exact same way. I’m trying to mix it up by swimming and biking as well. Good luck!

    12:22 pm  Aug 9th, 2009
  9. Valérie

    I started working out at the gym a couple of years ago, and after a year I was doing pretty well for most things. I was leaner, I could lift decently heavy weights for my small build, and I could maintain a fast pace on the elliptical machine for 30 minutes, no problem. But whenever I tried running laps, I found that everyone kept passing me by, including overweight old men with even shorter legs than me. Something about jogging just doesn’t agree with my body. Still, I did improve by sticking to it. Kudos to you for taking on the challenge, and good luck!

    12:44 pm  Aug 9th, 2009
  10. Nancy

    I can’t jog. I can’t ski. I can’t play tennis, Recently I took up rowing. I’m the worst in my “older adults” rowing group. The coach is always telling me I’m not doing something right. Well, hey, somebody’s gotta bring up the rear! Anyway, cooking and baking’s my thing. That’s why I subscribe to your email. That’s where our talents lie and that’s just great. If I had to choose between being athletically talented or culinary strengths, I’d choose the latter in a heart beat. And I think you would do the same. Just keep trying, that’s all that counts.

    12:49 pm  Aug 9th, 2009
  11. Lisa (Homesick Texan)

    Good luck, Nicole and most importantly, have fun with your program. Just think how fab you’re going to look one of those ugly free 5K T-shirts! Plus, artisan bread is awesome fuel for jogging!

    1:04 pm  Aug 9th, 2009
  12. AJ

    Good luck Nicole! I actually just started the Couch to 5K plan yesterday, so I’m right there with you!

    I hope you’ll post updates along the way – it’ll help motivate the rest of us 🙂

    1:15 pm  Aug 9th, 2009
  13. Amanda H

    Best of luck to you! A year ago I signed up for my first 5K after a lifetime of never being able to jog. I could swim a mile in the pool faster than I could jog. Now I’m still slow and it’s still hard work and rarely “fun,” but I enjoy the workout as well as the pride when I do a 5K for charity.

    Stick with it, listen to your body, and don’t take too many days off in a row or you’ll feel like you’re starting from scratch again which, needless to say, sucks and is very discouraging.

    Sign up for 5K for a charity you believe it, raise a little money, and you’ll be shocked by how proud you’ll feel, plus it’s really motivating to get those workouts in!

    1:26 pm  Aug 9th, 2009
  14. Alta

    Good luck! I was never a runner/jogger either for the longest time. (Even though as an adult, I picked up indoor amateur soccer as a hobby) I doubt I will ever be a marathoner or think running is the greatest thing ever, but I did push myself to do a 5K without walking, and it was a great motivator for me. It also allowed me to drop a few pounds without watching every calorie, an added bonus. And yes, getting the right shoes makes a HUGE difference!

    1:29 pm  Aug 9th, 2009
  15. bethany actually

    Nicole, you just described EXACTLY my experience with P.E. and the Presidential Fitness Test when I was a kid! I wasn’t overweight, but I just wasn’t a runner or an athlete and hated those tests. That continued right up till 1998, when I was 23 years old and my husband was on the first 6-month deployment of our marriage. During that time a good friend of mine was training for her first marathon. For some reason, even though I’d NEVER had the least desire to be a runner, I thought, “If she can run 26.2 miles, I surely can run 3 miles.” So my goal for that summer Troy was gone was that I wanted to be able to run 3 miles in 30 minutes or less. I went from never, ever running at all to running 3-4 times a week and truly loving it. I made my goal and even exceeded it, doing the Coronado Bay Bridge run that fall and getting a PR! I continued running for several years after that till I badly sprained my ankle and was sidelined for half a year. And then I found out I have bad knees and if I want to run that’s fine, I just have to know it’ll kill my knees before I’m 40. So I am not a runner any more, and I really miss it sometimes.

    All of this to say I’m glad to hear you’re becoming a runner! The rewards are many, and it’s not as bad as I thought it was all those years…I hope you think so too. 🙂 Good luck!

    1:37 pm  Aug 9th, 2009
  16. Amanda

    I cannot do a girly pushup either. Once every few years (or decade) I will get a fit of inspiration and determination to work my way up to real pushups. That usually lasts about 2 days. Good luck!

    1:40 pm  Aug 9th, 2009
  17. Nicole

    Steph: This is close to Innsbruck, I think maybe outside of Hall? I can’t remember exactly, it’s been a few years. It was a “Rick Steves recommended” day trip 🙂
    Sarah: I’m certainly nowhere near the point where I enjoy running, but I’m hopeful that I’ll get there someday!
    Nanette: Welcome to the club! Although I’m hoping that I won’t be a member for much longer 😉
    Courtney: You’re right, I probably should have said even more about the shoes! I have a decent pair right now, but when it’s time to get some new ones, I’m planning on heading to Road Runner Sports so I can hop on one of their treadmills and they can figure out exactly what I need.
    Sarah: Thanks for sharing your story! I hope the same thing happens to me! 🙂
    Mama K: Thanks for the laugh! It’s nice to know I’m not the only one. I’m pretty sure I could manage one “peel-up” too, but if my sister were in the room, we’d both be cracking up!
    Dallas: Well now’s as good a time as any! 🙂
    Ashley: I’m not sure if I’ll ever think of jogging as fun either. But it’s great to hear from someone who is doing it anyway! Thanks!
    Valérie: I know what you mean. Even when I was doing lots of cardio and lifting weights every day a few years ago, I could hardly jog at all. It seems like some people just have to work a lot harder at it than others, and I am definitely one of those people who wasn’t “born to run.” But I am determined to stick with it, and even if I’m never that fast, I just want to be able to jog for 30 minutes without stopping. And I will! 🙂
    Nancy: Thanks, Nancy! Yes, I’m happy with the talents I have, and I know I’ll never be a super athletic person. I’m perfectly fine with that, but I’m going to stick with it and see what I can accomplish! 🙂
    Lisa: Thanks! And you’re right, all this bread is the perfect fuel for my workouts 😉
    AJ: That’s so cool! I think I’ll try to post updates on Sundays. I wasn’t planning on writing about this on here, but I decided that the more people I have cheering me on, the easier it will be. I hope you’ll keep me posted on how you’re doing!
    Amanda H: I’ve already started looking into some 5K charity runs in the fall. I’m just trying to figure out which month I should do it…I want to make sure that I’ll be ready to complete the whole thing!
    Alta:Thanks for sharing! It’s always good to hear from people that pushed themselves to do this even if they had never done it before.
    Bethany: THANK YOU for your comment! I was beginning to wonder if I was the only one left scarred from those stupid tests!! 🙂 Thanks for your story, it makes me feel even more motivated to do this!
    Amanda: Well maybe you’ll be inspired to try again once I get my first push-up out of the way 😉

    1:42 pm  Aug 9th, 2009
  18. Vivian

    Good luck! I never thought that I would be able to accomplish anything like that either. About 4 years ago I committed to do the Nike Woman’s Marathon, with Team in Training as a fundraiser for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, in honor of my nephew Toby who is a survivor. I had never done anything like that before. It was tough and I reached my goal, raised a lot of money, and finished the race in 2005. I haven’t raced since and apparently I need goals like that to keep me on my toes, so in March 2010 I will do The Rock-N-Roll 1/2 Marathon in Dallas. Several friends have committed to doing this along with me and I am so excited to be training again with friends who are as committed as I.

    2:17 pm  Aug 9th, 2009
  19. Exena

    Good luck! It is wonderful to have goals. And what a beautiful photo…

    Funny that you should post this now, as I was just bragging to my Dad and brother this morning that I, at 29 years of age, was just able to complete my first REAL push-up. And man, am I proud of that! You’ve described my middle school/high school gym class situation to a tee. I was always a “non-athlete”, though I did make an effort to get into better shape in my late teens, though I ruined myself in college with late hours, bad food, and waaay too many nights at the bars 🙂

    A few months ago, after reading several reviews, I got a copy of Jillian Michaels’ 30 Day Shred from Netflix. After much hard work (and at the beginning, grunting my way through girlie pushups…), I can now do a push-up!!! And I am now stronger than ever!

    I’ve also wanted to begin jogging as well, so I think I’ll steal this intro to running program. WE CAN DO IT!!! (and eat our yummies too, haha)

    2:26 pm  Aug 9th, 2009
  20. Dana

    I loved this post and could so relate to your experiences with Ronald Reagan. 🙂 I have been in better shape in my 30’s than at any other time. For me, it was finding yoga. Finally, a way to exercise that my body responded to. I started running last year as well and now do 3 miles 3 times a week. The difference for me is that I dread the run, hate it while I am doing it, but feel good afterward. I look forward to going to yoga, love it while I am doing it, and feel great afterward. So, I encourage you to realize that running isn’t for every body (I just do it because it is fast and efficient and I have 2 young kids) and there are other great things out there that you might love. Good luck and good for you!

    2:27 pm  Aug 9th, 2009
  21. Nicole

    Vivian: That’s great that you’re training for the 1/2 marathon! I can’t see myself ever going that far, but my husband likes to do things like that. I’m really looking forward to my first 5K!
    Exena: You should definitely do it! I enjoy the walking/jogging workouts much more than just 30 minutes of straight walking, biking or elliptical. The intervals help the time go by faster and it’s fun to see that little bit of progress each week. And yes, I’m looking forward to completing my first push-up!
    Dana: I don’t know if I’ll become a life-long runner once I get started, but I am determined to reach the goal of jogging a 5K. There might be other things I enjoy more, but like you, I want a fast and efficient cardio workout to supplement activities that I enjoy more, but might not burn as many calories 🙂

    2:55 pm  Aug 9th, 2009
  22. Susan from Food Blogga

    I’m so happy to hear about your new commitment to exercise, Nicole. I don’t jog (bad knees), but I do cardio and weights several times a week and love it. I think you’ll find that the more you do it, the more you’ll crave doing it. You know, the whole increasing endorphins thing. 😉 And I agree with you about dieting. It doesn’t work. Eating healthfully and moderately while regularly exercising does work. Kick ass!

    3:20 pm  Aug 9th, 2009
  23. Denise

    Well I waited until 51 (gasp) to try to learn to run. I was walking one day and thought I could get the run over with in a shorter time if I ran. I ran for maybe ten seconds and thought I would die!! But I didn’t die and I tried another 10 seconds. Three months later I ran! a 10K with my friend Carolyn who really encouraged me to keep running.
    Today I start my official training for my first 1/2 marathon! I will do it in Beijing China Oct. 18! I am now 52 and can NOT believe I am a runner. You can do it!! You will amaze yourself!

    3:21 pm  Aug 9th, 2009
  24. Katie

    Those beginning running programs really work! I was in your exact position 2 years ago, but for some reason I agreed to run a 5K with a friend. I pushed myself through the Couch-to-5K program (often wanting to quit), and ended up successfully running the entire 5K. I can’t even begin to describe the feeling of accomplishment at the end, so stick with it if you can! Somehow I grew to actually enjoy it, and now I’m training for a half-marathon.

    3:41 pm  Aug 9th, 2009
  25. Nancy/n.o.e

    My daughters had similar experiences with the Presidential fitness tests; they both also consider themselves non-athletic. My younger daughter began Cross Fit this summer with my husband and is loving it – she’s lifting and working on pull ups and running, and slowly her self-definition is changing. I was an avid runner (and member of the track team in high school and college) but a series of injuries has made it impossible for me to run for the past 20 years, and for the past 3 years I’ve been challenged just by walking. I’d give my eye teeth to be running in Austria, or even on the treadmill! I hope you come to love it.

    3:43 pm  Aug 9th, 2009
  26. Lizzzzzard

    i just started running, too, after being out of it for a year and a half. it’s incredibly difficult at first, probably because I’m so self conscious; but i know it will get better. and i, no matter how hard i’ve tried or how many weights i’ve lifted, never have been able to do a push-up. never. the closet i get are on the kitchen counter.

    4:04 pm  Aug 9th, 2009
  27. Jennette

    I enjoyed your confession. This is the summer I keep telling myself I will start jogging. Hasn’t happened…yet…

    4:10 pm  Aug 9th, 2009
  28. Haley W

    I ran track in middle and first two years of high school and LOVED running. But, a hip injury my sophomore year made me stop running. I never picked it back up again, I’ve always been afraid that hip will give out again. However, I’ve always missed running. I think I’m going to try this. I REALLY want to get back in shape and this is a great plan to do so!

    4:15 pm  Aug 9th, 2009
  29. Rebecca

    I’m not a runner either….well, I guess I could call myself a runner last year when I did my first 5k in 36 minutes. I went the next day, determined to keep it up, and made it 3/4 of a mile before I said “forget it! I don’t have a goal now!”

    Well, goal is back on. 5k is September 20 and I am trying to find a 10k to do later in the fall. My best friend is running the half marathon in Columbus, OH in November and she’s not a runner either, but I said “if Lea can run 13 miles, I can run 6”. So, I guess that’s my motivation…set a goal for yourself, and find someone who inspires you and try and build up to that.

    Good luck!

    4:30 pm  Aug 9th, 2009
  30. Kristin

    I can’t do a push-up either, and I was in Army JROTC which is like High School Army P.E. Class, and made it thru never doing a single push-up. Very proud of that, but still don’t know how I did it

    5:08 pm  Aug 9th, 2009
  31. Shannon Mac

    I did the Couch-2-5k program– I loved it! And now I am about to start training for a half marathon. And, like you, I have never been a jogger.

    6:04 pm  Aug 9th, 2009
  32. Great-Granny Grandma

    I have never been able to do pushups either–regular or girlie kind–but I can do wall pushups, and have trained myself to do 100 of those.

    6:16 pm  Aug 9th, 2009
  33. Jamie

    You can do it! I did the Couch to 5K podcast this spring (I am NOT a jogger/runner) but I ran my first 5K in June in 35 min (10 fast than my goal). I am now training for a 10K (eek). It is such a sense of accomplishment. Good luck to you!

    8:06 pm  Aug 9th, 2009
  34. Robyn

    I swear this could have been written by me. I’m not out of shape, either. But I find running to be really hard, and I can’t do a push-up. I also had the exact same PE experiences you did!

    I did have a period of time where I made my way up to running three miles, one time I even did four. But now I can’t run at all, and it hurts my knees.

    8:19 pm  Aug 9th, 2009
  35. Lauren

    I definitely understand the unable to jog thing. I was able to run while playing soccer when my mind wasn’t on the running aspect, but I can’t just get out there and run. I was always admonished by my coach though when I would do the slowest 2 miles out of everyone. And I was the only one who didn’t walk at some point! My “jogging” is slower than if I were to walk. This actually motivates me to actually try and jog at a pace that isn’t sluggish, and I’ve been trying to motivate myself to start working out again as it is!

    8:30 pm  Aug 9th, 2009
  36. Janet

    I turned 55 last Thursday. I started running in my late thirties. I tried when I was younger, but I always ended up with shin splints–BAD. So at some point I stopped getting shin splints and I was able to become a RUNNER! I don’t do marathons or run everyday. I just do it when I feel like it. No pressure. I’m not training for the Olympics–after all…I am 55. This morning I ran four miles. People are amazed that I can run and some of them can’t. I think most people can…but you must do it at your own pace–even if it means taking a year to just run 1/2 a mile. After all…you are not training for the Olympics–you are training to try to have fun with it and to improve your health! And if you can’t do it–so what! Just walk.

    9:22 pm  Aug 9th, 2009
  37. Nabeela

    Half a year ago, I couldn’t jog for more than 3 minutes and now I can jog for 90 minutes without needing to take a break. Your plan sounds good and I know you can do it if you stick to it. All the best!

    11:46 pm  Aug 9th, 2009
  38. The Blushing Hostess

    I admire you for doing this. Honestly, even with greaet music, ther eis nothing that bores me more, physically, than running. But like you, my Husband, a career naval officer, loves it and encourages me constantly. I ride horses and that is how it will stay no matter how reasonable this running conversion appears, sometimes it has to do with one’s mind, not one’s body…

    3:14 am  Aug 10th, 2009
  39. Jodi

    I hate to run! And I am a semi-decent runner, but I HATE it. With that said, every year I sign up for some event and make myself do it. I am always happy that I did but I can never bring myself to commit to a full year of running. I need to. My problem is that I hate to run alone. I need a comrade….maybe I will pretend that we are running together on this beautiful road in Austria!

    Good luck Nicole! You sound like you are goal oriented and I am sure you are going to kick butt. As I was reading this article I was picturing the side of the PE dept at TJ, where we would do our Presidential Fitness Program, with all of us in our gold and blue shorts. And in HS, where we would have to line up on the numbers between the tennis courts and the swimming pool. Too funny. Thanks for the laugh and the memories. 🙂

    5:37 am  Aug 10th, 2009
  40. Sara @ Our Best Bites

    NIce! I started running about 3 months ago (and I was NOT a runner by any stretch of the imagination) and now I’m up to 10 miles at a time! I actually *kind of* enjoy it now 😉

    6:57 am  Aug 10th, 2009
  41. Sara

    I HATED the presidential fitness program. Not only did we have to run the mile (I could only make it about halfway before I walked), but we had to hang from a bar with our chin resting above the bar, which I couldn’t do either. Not even for a second.

    I’ve always wanted to be a runner, but I’ve always felt so very, very awkward. It doesn’t help that I look like a lumbering oaf, but perhaps I’ll give it another go. The beginners program I have, however, starts you out at running only 30 seconds during each burst, and walking about four minutes, then gradually increasing the running. I’m pretty sure two minutes straight would give me a coronary at this point.

    6:58 am  Aug 10th, 2009
  42. Aimee

    Great post! You are doing a good thing here, keep it up.

    I’ve recently attempted to get into jogging, so I’ll be dragging my (inflated food blogger’s) butt around and thinking of you.

    Happy trails!

    7:18 am  Aug 10th, 2009
  43. Mel

    Good Luck 🙂 I managed to pass the presidental fitness dealies but it was never on the pushups and running – I was always surprised I passed it to be quite honest. I’ve never been a runner and I have tried VERY hard. I made it a goal to be able to run that stupid mile without walking once and come in in less than 9 minutes. By the end of the school year I made it but I always crawled away from the track feeling sick to my stomach and light headed or with a headache. I ended up tossing my cookies many times at the end of running it – but I was determined to do it. At the end of the year I mentioned my frustration to my doctor and he said I probably never should have tried to run – I should have been happy with a fast walk. He said that women have more space in their body cavities for having babies, and that I was probably one of the ones that had some extra space so things were getting jostled too much, plus low blood pressure = sick no matter what. I still think he was saying that to make me feel better so over the summer, still determined, I tried training that year with my dad who is a Marine and runs every day. I wanted to be able to go on runs with him sort of the whole bonding deal. He tried to teach me to breath and about pacing and all that stuff, which does help (I also found spotting like in ballet helps you know the “just make it to that tree up there”) but talking with him he told me his secret was also developing a pace and a kind of funny run for longer distances which reduced physical effort for longer periods but allowed a quick leap to sprinting when necessary. I guess the summary of all this is: 1 – get your hubbie to help you out with the breathing/pacing/way of running deal it makes a difference 2 – everyone has their own pace – some of us are sprinters, some of us are dawdlers don’t try to force yourself to what you think is expected – challenge yourself to go beyond but listen to your body 3 – Don’t give up – modify if you have to, but don’t give up. I don’t run/jog but I walk & bicycle to get the heart rate up & have added a Wii Fit to the whole routine. It has jogging and pushups, in addition to the infamous hula hooping and yoga btw 😉

    7:31 am  Aug 10th, 2009
  44. Nicole

    Thanks for all your great comments and support, everyone! After posting this, I immediately regretted it (I always feel nervous after sharing personal things). But once I started hearing your responses, I felt a lot better and now I’m really glad I shared this!

    Sara: I couldn’t do the chin-up thing either! You’re right, the plan I’m doing is a bit tougher than some of them out there. I added links to a couple other ones, and I’ve read through even more. I started lifting weights and doing lots of cardio a couple weeks before starting this particular walk-to-jog plan and it’s still been really tough for me (so I’ll just be repeating the weeks that I have trouble with). I thought about switching to one of the other ones, but decided to just see this one through at my own pace.

    7:32 am  Aug 10th, 2009
  45. Amanda Mae

    congrats on running! maybe you will get to the point where you love it, become addicted to it! some people do… the runners high.

    by the way, that location is INCREDIBLE! I WISH i could run around there! amazing!

    ps – i couldnt do a push up, ever, until the last couple of weeks – i learned to in yoga class… and now i can do a whole ONE push up before collapsing on the floor!

    8:19 am  Aug 10th, 2009
  46. Phoo-D

    Congratulations on starting this up! It is no small feat. I don’t run very fast, and still remember those dreaded Presidential Fitness tests. I would come in dead last every time. However for me the worst part was the rope climb. I would jump as high as I could and grab on- then that was always as far as I got. =) You might check out some basic yoga to help with the push ups. I find that the plank yoga position helps my arms get in shape to the point where I can then do girl pushups easily. Mr. B and I are both starting a exercise regimen this week to try and shed some BBA induced rolls. Fun stuff.

    9:12 am  Aug 10th, 2009
  47. Kat

    Good luck and stick with it! I always hated, hated, /hated/ running, but I wanted to be able to do it because it’s more convenient exercise than swimming. I started with a run/walk sort of system last August. Getting up to doing three miles continuously (and consistently) was the hardest part. And now I’m training for the Chicago marathon in October!

    12:38 pm  Aug 10th, 2009
  48. Andrea

    Awesome Nicole! (I think it was you and me together not being able to do the fitness things in school!) Similarly, my military hubby had to lose about 40 lbs when he switched branches of service! So now he’s in great shape… andI gained all the weight he lost! But I’m starting a similar journey. I couldn’t run a mile either and now I can jog about 3 miles. And I just started a fitness bootcamp 3x week that is helping strengthen me (because now with just running, my knees started killing me). I haven’t lost much weight yet, but it does help to know I’m leaving a healthier legacy to my little girl! You will meet your goals! We should run/walk together sometime!

    12:58 pm  Aug 10th, 2009
  49. addy

    I can’t do it to, i might do a push-up but the second won’t be a push-up for shore :P.
    I hate it at shcool and i still hate it. But at the gym there are many things i can do. I’m sorry that teachers think that everybody can do the same exercise. They don’t even know what is better for each one. They don’t even do medical exams just to check (i mean, in my country). Anyway 🙂 just wanted to let you know that at least you’re not the only one.

    1:13 pm  Aug 10th, 2009
  50. Allen

    Good for you!!! I wish I had your determination when it comes to exercise … I really need to start something. Yoga is at the top of my list and I just haven’t been able to commit to it. (I’m good at making excuses)

    1:34 pm  Aug 10th, 2009
  51. jaf

    i felt like i was reading an entry in my diary when i read this. i try to stay active but shy away from running, push ups and sit ups. i’ve always wanted to run a 5k. hearing about your goal and progress motivates me. keep us updated on your success. best of luck.

    1:55 pm  Aug 10th, 2009
  52. wendy

    Good for you! FWIW, I hate running/jogging, but run a half-marathon once a year to say I can do it. (of course my legs kill the next few days b/c I don’t train for it, b/c I hate running–did I say that already? 😛 ) In the meantime, I take lots of spinning classes and recently started hiking on the weekends. I just don’t like running and can’t get past that mental block.

    1:59 pm  Aug 10th, 2009
  53. radish

    This is so awesome. As someone who couldn’t jog for ten minutes, let alone do 1 push up, I wound up running 3 half marathons, and will now be returning to the sport now that my stress fracture has healed!! Congratulations on jogging and like Lisa said, remember to enjoy it. You’ll be SO excited with each new goal conquered!! I promise you, there will come a time when running will make you feel at ease and free and calm – and you’ll love it! 🙂 Go you!

    2:03 pm  Aug 10th, 2009
  54. radish

    oh and as someone who is impossibly addicted to nsis, i am fascinated with all things navy related 🙂

    2:06 pm  Aug 10th, 2009
  55. From My Kitchen Table

    Accountability is the name of the game. It (almost) always keeps me moving forward even when I don’t think I can move forward. Best of luck with your running and keep cooking. It’s also a key to good health!

    2:09 pm  Aug 10th, 2009
  56. ThisPrimalLife

    Not to be a pooper because I think it is really cool that you are challenging yourself with a new activity, but one thought: Maybe the reason you aren’t good at jogging is due tot he fact that humans aren’t designed to run long distances at a steady pace.

    I don’t subject my body to jogging and I am in great physical condition. I lift weights, I sprint, and I walk around a lot because these are the activities that humans evolved to do. Jogging is an invention of the modern world. It puts unnecessary stress on the body for the sake of unnecessary (for most all of us) aerobic training. And to top it off, its not even so great for fat loss!

    On my blog I recently wrote a post about how much I’ve always sucked at jogging and how I got into great shape through lifting weights and eating better. If your’e interested the post is called Making the Case for Lifting Weights.

    2:17 pm  Aug 10th, 2009
  57. Nicole

    ThisPrimalLife: Thanks for sharing your opinion. I’m actually weight training 6 days per week in addition to working up to jogging for 30 minutes (I don’t really consider 3 miles to be long distance running). The jogging is a personal goal, and I think I stated that jogging isn’t for everyone and that it is a high impact activity that can be hard on your joints.

    2:33 pm  Aug 10th, 2009
  58. Danielle

    Kudos for sharing your confession and jogging plan on your blog Nicole! I’ve been procrastinating (like, forever) on awakening my running self since we moved to the US, so I know how hard it is to start. In fact, it is probably the hardest part! Good luck with your journey – you’ve inspired me to start a plan of my own 🙂

    P.S. I can’t do push-ups either, although I’m sure some yoga poses (downward dog, cobra) will help strengthen your shoulder and core muscles, eventually making it easier to do the push-up.

    3:11 pm  Aug 10th, 2009
  59. Maureen

    Good Luck on your running! I too could not do a push up, pull up and barely a sit up. Forget running!! Then, the unthinkable happened. I decided to run a 1/2 marathon for the Leukemia and Lymphomia Society. Just like that. Oh, and I am an overweight 55 year old! I coughed, gasped, and dragged myself through my first 3 mile run! Somehow, after 6 months of training, I actually managed to complete the 13.1 miles! I still cannot do a push up, pull up, and barely a sit up, but I did learn to run! And you will do GREAT!

    3:18 pm  Aug 10th, 2009
  60. ThisPrimalLife

    @Nicole Sorry if I sounded snooty or judgmental! I didn’t mean for my comment to come across that way. I love your blog and your wonderful recipes. I wish you well in all your endeavors – running included! 🙂

    5:43 pm  Aug 10th, 2009
  61. cheffresco

    Good luck with the running! I promise it will be totally worth it once you get into it! And those pics are amazing!

    5:49 pm  Aug 10th, 2009
  62. jaf

    after reading your post yesterday i went to the gym last night, i ran 1 1/2 miles. i kept thinking of your austria picture and the San Diego Bay which i love so much but only visit once a year. thanks for your post, it inspired me.

    12:36 pm  Aug 11th, 2009
  63. Angela

    Way to go! Starting is usually the hardest.

    Treadmill Tip: Make sure the grade on the treadmill is at least 2.0. Otherwise, the slope is too hard on your knees and your body won’t like it.

    Push-Up Tip: Use your core! The more you pull your stomach in and use your abs, the easier it actually is! Also, make sure you’re alligment is correct – when elbows are bent and you’re down in the full position (nose to floor) your elbows should be stacked over your wrists.

    Motiviational Tip: KICK BUTT PLAYLISTS! Sometimes you’re tired and just don’t want to move. But, listen to a few of those sure-fire songs that you just can’t stand still to and you’ll be able to get moving in no time!

    As always, begin with the end in mind and visualize it every day. You CAN do it!

    2:39 pm  Aug 11th, 2009
  64. Jennifer

    Good luck to you! I am also not a runner, it is very difficult for me and it takes me a long time to even be able to comfortably run a mile. I even dream about running. So, in order to hold myself accountable to my fitness and health goals (running goals included -recently got a hand-me down treadmill!) and dieting (also need to lose weight since returning from overseas), I started a blog. Writing about it definitely works!

    5:26 pm  Aug 11th, 2009
  65. Lori

    Good Luck. Once you can do a push up even girlie style you should take a look at the 100 push up program. I did it last winter and it is pretty good about getting you to increase your push up ability.

    6:15 pm  Aug 11th, 2009
  66. SallyBR

    Congratulations on starting this program!

    I picked up running more seriously at age 40, when I married (second time) – by age 46 I ran my first (and ONLY) marathon, something I would never EVER imagine being able to do!

    running is great, all you need is to give the first step outside the door, and all others are easier..

    8:42 pm  Aug 11th, 2009
  67. ATigerintheKitchen

    What beautiful pictures! Of course, my strategy would be to just skip the run, not even attempt the push ups (I can’t do them either) and head straight for the beer … 🙂

    11:59 pm  Aug 11th, 2009
  68. Jess

    Hey Nicole!

    Good for you! I am a runner by nature and I just love seeing other people get into it as well. I’m sure you will reach your goals–and keep us updated on your progress! And thanks for the photo of Innsbruck! My brother and I traveled there the summer after I graduated from college and we just loved it…

    7:32 am  Aug 12th, 2009
  69. Andy

    Best of luck on this challenge! I love to run but keenly remember just how difficult getting started was.

    If I could give one piece of advise it would be to get off the treadmill and head outside as soon as you feel comfortable. Its so much more fun to be out and to see the sites; see your neighbors; enjoy the sun/rain/breeze; and to add variety into what is otherwise a monotonous experience. I know not everybody lives in a great location to run outside but, if you do, you might find it much more enjoyable than the treadmill.

    8:36 am  Aug 12th, 2009
  70. js

    well good luck to you my problem lies in sit ups rather than push ups and I’m working on it as well… Other than that love the website and am nicking the red velvet cupcake recipe for a friends wedding so thank you

    7:23 pm  Aug 12th, 2009
  71. Harmony

    In my yoga class we do push ups but the teacher calls them “float ups” and encourages us to really engage our abs and glutes and focus on floating up rather than just using our arms to push up (you can do this either on your knees or on your feet). I find that the feeling is much different and much easier when thinking about it that way. And needless to say, the more you practice them, the more upper body strength you’ll develop, but try one as a “float up” and see how it goes.

    6:41 pm  Aug 13th, 2009
  72. Danielle V

    Congrats on the running routine! I just transplanted to OR from San Diego and I miss the weather the most – you can do any activity outside ALL year long there! I highly recommend walking up Cowles Mountain – it is definitely a work-out with a great view! I, too, am not a runner, and in addition to walking the mile in school, I failed flexibility — still scarred from that, too! I will say, though, that my SO are on our 4th week of Couch-to-5K on our iPhones and it has surprisingly created the inklings of a running confidence I did not know I had! I highly recommend it! Good luck and thanks for your recipes!

    5:39 pm  Aug 14th, 2009
  73. TheKitchenWitch

    Oh, I’ve found the right place! I can’t do a push-up, either. OR run. In school gym class, when we took those physical fitness tests, we had to do this thing called the “arm hang”…did you have that?

    They’d have you stand on a chair, hold onto a chin-up bar, then yank the chair away and see how many seconds you could “hang” with your chin on the bar…My time was always: ONE second. It was soooo humiliating!

    Good luck with the running program!

    11:51 am  Aug 15th, 2009
  74. Rebecca

    I understand exactly how you feel! I started running because I hate going to the gym. By running, I mean walking with a bit of very slow jogging thrown in (Couch to 5K) program. It was horrible (the running, not the program)! I don’t like being red-faced or sweaty, and it seemed that no matter how much walking was a part of my running, I was always both. But I signed up for a 5K with my boyfriend and I finished the race. Since then, I’ve been running on again/off again. To encourage myself to stick to the on again part of that sequence, I’m signing up for a 5 mile race in the Fall. The most surprising part is that I can’t wait! Not that I would ever admit it to my boyfriend….

    Best of luck with your program!

    9:11 am  Aug 16th, 2009
  75. CN

    I am not athletic and I was always really bad about getting the mile done during school even though I was normal if slightly under underweight. I’ve actually done that running program and I thought it was really hard! I made it but my legs hurt sooo much.

    But then again I can do 15 pushups. I’ve always had more upper arms strength. Liked to climb trees. At one point I could do two pull ups but those are pretty much impossible. My legs have no muscle.

    1:21 pm  Aug 16th, 2009
  76. julo

    I will surely never be able to do a chin-up. I am losing hope that I’ll ever be able to do a single real push-up. But I am certain that anyone can go from being a non-jogger to a runner, given enough time!

    I was in the same boat as you, Nicole, just earlier this year. Around January I changed from my usual morning walk to a slow jog with lots of walking thrown in for that pesky breathing I tend to do. And just 8 months later, I am running 5K every morning. No joke. I didn’t follow any of those plans, but I think I ended up doing something similar on my own. Basically, I just jogged as much as I could. I started with jogging about a mile. Then when I had that down I added a quarter mile, and then another quarter mile. Just around my neighborhood, on the pavement. Then I started running on a treadmill once a week. I don’t really like treadmills because I get too obsessive over how fast I can run for how far. But my treadmill day once a week I would always see how far I could run. Pretty soon I got up to 3 miles. I couldn’t run that far on pavement, no way. But I started upping my distances and before I knew it, I was there.

    And it’s true, you will totally reach a point where you feel icky if you don’t run. That doesn’t mean it feels particularly good while you’re actually running though! Though you’ll feel great afterwards. 🙂

    And this is from me, a girl who dreaded running the mile in high school and could barely even do it. I HATED running, and now I love it, in less than a year. Just keep at it! You can do it! Rather than telling yourself that it’s not your thing, tell yourself that you’ll get to where you want to be if you keep at it, keep pushing yourself farther!

    Unfortunately, I’m still at a loss with the pushup. It was my goal to be able to do one by May. I’m still not there…but maybe some day.

    Thanks for posting this, by the way. It’s nice to know that I’m not the only one who felt this way! 🙂

    12:54 pm  Aug 17th, 2009
  77. Jen

    My jaw dropped slightly when I saw that first picture. The air is so crystal clear and the mountains are gorgeous. You’re right; who wouldn’t want to run if the incentive is a euphoric conclusion to a great exercise? I live in Los Angeles and the air quality is nowhere NEAR that of Australia’s. I work for a program called Chef’s Diet, and I’ve been balancing our meals with a regular workout routine. We deliver meals to your door made from fresh fruits and vegetables, lean, tender meats, the freshest seafood and complementary carbs and dairy products. If anyone is interested in a great way to balance out a good run, check out the Chefs Die give-away by visiting online to win a month of free Chefs Diet meals at

    6:08 pm  Aug 18th, 2009
  78. Kendall

    I could never do pull ups. At all. Nothing close. Jogging…I didn’t last long. Push ups…barely. But a pull up…I couldn’t budge an inch. I remember we had to do this…climb-the-pole (or rope?) exercise for something. I got a little running start, jumped onto it, clasped myself around it and said “Alright, there you go, that’s all I got.”

    I should jog. :o\

    9:15 pm  Aug 18th, 2009
  79. Gsacabinet

    Hi there
    It’s been a long while since my latest comment. I would like to tell you that I couldn’t finish the run in P.E. when I was in school too. I can’t do more than 10-time situp and my mom can’t do any!
    Your plan encourages me 🙂
    I hate jogging since it sometimes hurt my ankles but I”m starting one (not on the concrete where I usually perform the running).
    New shoes here I come~

    11:47 pm  Aug 18th, 2009
  80. Noey

    omg. i can completely relate to your abilty to not do the mile. in my case i am overweight, well, according to US standards. i have this habit of never finishing the workouts i start mainly because i lose focus and drive. also my bf’s made it a habit of saying “we’ll see how long this takes before you give it up,” statements. sucks right? oh well… maybe one day i’ll finish a workout regime and lose the 40lbs i’ve been dying to lose.

    on the other hand, LOVE your website. my bestfriend recommended it because i asked her “how do you do cream cheese filled muffins?” =D

    10:58 am  Aug 20th, 2009
  81. Katie

    OK, so the beginning of this post could have TOTALLY been written by me. I dreaded that dang mile run in elementary school, and the situps? Forget it. I recently started lifting weights and love the difference I can feel in my muscles, but the cardio portion of my exercise isn’t exactly stellar. It’s actually nonexistent. SO. I saw your twitter about Couch to 5K…looked into it…and this weekend, I got running shoes! I’m starting tomorrow, a little nervous, but excited. Thanks for the push I needed to get out there. Keep us updated about your progress, and I’ll do the same 🙂

    5:38 am  Aug 23rd, 2009
  82. David

    If the run/jog doesn’t work out, the walking will. Two miles in 20 minutes, everyday will work. As for the push-ups, you can use the edge of the bed to get started.You’ll be able to work on form, and progress upward in reps. When your confidence level builds, you can move to the floor.

    Will look forward on how you’ll do. (Small world – did EOD work as well.)

    10:56 am  Aug 23rd, 2009
  83. Nicole

    Thanks for all the comments everyone! I’ll be writing another post soon with details of my progress…I’m doing really well! I switched to Cool Running’s Couch to 5K plan because I wasn’t doing well with the back-to-back friday/saturday runs. C25K is awesome!! I just finished Week 4 and I’ve actually been able to keep up! Every time I feel like I can’t do it, I end up having a breakthrough and it turns out that I can! Haven’t been working too much on the push-ups yet but have been lifting weights several times a week and working on strengthening my legs and my core. Feeling good!

    11:28 am  Aug 23rd, 2009
  84. Shannon

    Hi! I just stumbled across your blog googling for a recipe and clicked on your pretty mountain pic to read this post…and I had to say “HI” because my husband is a Marine EOD tech!

    1:56 pm  Aug 31st, 2009
  85. Kristin

    Don’t even worry about what people think – I’m small and in pretty good shape, but can’t run a mile either 🙂 When I see women out there who are not small and they’re working hard and actually running, I want to bow down to them. Bonus points for them!

    6:59 am  Sep 1st, 2009
  86. willy-nilly

    Well, Ronald Reagan thought Ketchup was a complete veggie too… Just found your blog due to leeks, and now have some sort of leek potato soup on the stove. I only run so the consumption of beer doesn’t catch up with me, and apparently this soup with a cup of cream and a few tablespoons of butter.

    6:24 pm  Oct 5th, 2009
  87. Jeanne

    How are you doing with your goals?

    Push-ups are my nemesis! I can’t do one either! I have started doing wall push-ups and push-ups on park benches and plan to work towards for real pushups.

    Great job with the jogging! Are you keeping up with it? You should be very proud. 🙂 3 years ago I couldn’t jog three miles. I completed my first marathon this past October and strongly believe that if I can do it, most anyone can.

    Keep up your hard work and I look forward to hearing about your progress.

    12:27 pm  Dec 6th, 2009
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