Red Faced Runners 5k Challenge

Newburyport Half-Marathon, November 2011

No recipe today, my friends.  No, today we are going to talk about running.  “Whoa!”, I hear you say.  “Wait a gosh-darned minute.  I come here for the recipes and the pretty pictures of food.  I am not a runner!”.  Oh yeah?  Want to make a bet?  Come on, I dare you.  Prove to me that you AREN’T a runner.  Yes, I am asking what it sounds like I am asking.  I am challenging you, my reader, to become a runner.  Because barring some physical limitations, I can virtually guarantee you that you, in fact, are a runner.  I am a runner and for years I never even knew it.  Perhaps you know this story, I may have told a few times.  But it warrants re-telling in the hopes that I can inspire you to find your inner runner.

Three years ago, I would have been that person saying “Whoa, I am not a runner!”.  I was a walker, I was a hiker, I was fairly active.  But I detested running.  It was an exercise I found zero enjoyment in, it hurt, I got red in the face and I never progressed much.  Every time I started a running program, I quit after a few days, figuring I just wasn’t a runner.  And then I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes, and I walked every day after lunch and dinner, even through serious back problems, in an effort to keep my glucose levels down.  Seeing the remarkable effect that a 15 minute walk could have on blood glucose made me in awe of the power of exercise and I made a commitment to a regular exercise routine after my daughter was born.  I walked a lot, I worked out on the machines at my local Y, and I made some new friends.  One new friend invited me to join the Y Run Club and I nearly laughed in her face.  I am not a runner!  But one cold January day, I headed out for a walk.  I was so chilly, I started to jog to warm up.  And it felt okay so I kept going.  And going.  And going.  Next thing I knew, I’d run 40 minutes solid.  And because I’d worked up to it slowly, it felt surprisingly good.

NYC Half-Marathon, March 2012

So I did join the Run Club and was soon running 4 or 5 miles.  One of my new friends invited me to sign up for a half-marathon in late May, and in a momentary lapse of reason, I agreed.  We started a training program, working up our mileage slowly and safely.  I discovered the amazing sense of a runner’s high, when exhaustion and discomfort fall away in the joy of pushing your body to its limits.  It was astonishingly powerful.  I discovered an inner strength, the ability to keep going when I was utterly exhausted.  I also discovered that my short little legs were surprisingly fast in an all-out sprint, and with a little training, I was soon outstripping everyone in my run club.  For the first time in my life, I felt truly athletic and it was incredibly empowering.

Running is something almost all of us can do.  We may be fast or we may be slow, but we can all run.  So I have banded together with a few other running bloggers, lead by Dara of Cookin’ Canuck, to challenge our readers to find their inner runner.  We are of all different levels and some of us are more seasoned than others, but we are all runners because we get out there and we try.  We want you to do the same.

We call ourselves the Red Faced Runners and we will all be signing up for a 5k race (or longer) in our hometowns, to be run on the weekend of September 8th.  We’d like you to join us.  Because you are a runner, you just don’t know it yet.


Cindy, Once Upon a Loaf             http://www.onceuponaloaf
Amy, She Wears Many Hats
Kristen, Dine & Dish             
Bridget, Bake at 350            
Lori, Recipe Girl                    
In Katrina’s Kitchen             
Robyn, Add a Pinch             
Krista, Budget Gourmet Mom
Shawn, I Wash…You Dry   
Dara, Cookin’ Canuck           

If you’ve read this far, I have to assume that you are at least a tiny bit interested.  So here are a few fun, inspiring tidbits to motivate you!  First, a collage of all the Red Faced Runners in their Wonder Woman socks (yes, my legs are in there, at the bottom right by the word Run).  Because you will feel like Wonder Woman if you run a 5k race, I promise.  (Or if  you happen to be male, you will feel like Superman…and there actually is a Superman version of these socks).

Secondly, it just so happens that Cindy of Once Upon A Loaf is actually a running coach.  She has put together a few quick tips for all of us to inspire our readers.  And beyond that, she has actually put together a full 5k training program, which you can read on Cookin’ Canuck.  If you don’t think you are a runner, try this training program on for size and join us on the weekend of September 8th.  You CAN do this!

1. Believe in the run.
2. Believe in the rest.
3. Respect must rule all.
4. Your body is your temple.
5. Your kitchen is your place of worship.
6. Equip yourself.
7. You run.  You don’t jog.
8. Get after it.
9. Spread the love.
10. Have the time of your life.

If I have managed to inspire you to try running, please tell me about it.  Comment on this post and if you think you might be interested in taking on this challenge, let me know.  Running is a huge part of my life now, it brings me great joy and I want to share it with you.  Join us and train for a 5k race in September.  If anyone is interested, I will happily post periodic check-ins where we can talk about our training and prepare for our races together.  Support in running is integral and I want to help you achieve your goals.

And if you are already an experienced runner, join us anyway!  Sign up with us and we can set goals appropriate to your experience level.  It will be fun!

Don’t know how to find a 5k race in your area?  Check out these links below:

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  1. says

    What a great idea! I started running last September and have completed four 5k’s with my time improving each race. But lately I’ve had a hard time with running due to my breathing and feeling like I sound like I’m dying (even though I’m totally fine). This gives me the motivation to work through the issues and continue running. I’m in!

  2. says

    Carolyn….I just LOVE your running story. LOVE it!

    I’m the same…I NEVER would have considered running (I thought runners were a little crazy). It hurt me. I could never understand why anyone would enjoy running. Until I started the Couch to 5K. It really changed my perspective about many things….mainly what I was capable of doing.

    Love the pictures of you! So happy to be in this little group with you. Thanks for the inspiration!!!

  3. Allison says

    Hi, After reading this I wanted to know if you have considered contacting the World Run Day website and having your Red Faced Runners 5K added to their runs as a virtual 5K. Participants sign up online, choose a charity, give a small donation, and then run on the designated day. Registered runners even get a runner’s bib and a T-shirt. After the virtual race, runners submit their race times and the results are posted online. I have been running for about 10 years now (I’m 54), but started out “jogging” a short distance only to realize I too really am a runner! Originally inspired by my brother (He has completed over 30 marathons), I now have a couple half marathons, a few triathlons, and a “runner’s physique” to my name. P.S. I really enjoy your blog as well as all the other blogs you mentioned. My college aged daughter thinks it’s not fair that I am making all these new, yummy recipes after all 4 kids have left home. I will participate in your 5K, virtually from Arizona even if you are not linked up with Thanks for reading my comment and good luck with your 5K.

    • Carolyn says

      Hey, thanks for the tip and I will definitely look into it! And thanks for signing up. Not sure what kind of race I will run on September 8th…might just be a 5k or might be longer if I can find one I want to do.

  4. says

    Your story is great. I go through periods of being a runner and periods where you couldn’t pay me enough to run a mile. This just might be the push I need to get back on the running wagon.

    • Carolyn says

      We’d love to have you join us, Emily. Getting motivation from others is crucial so I am happy to share with you!

  5. says

    I too started Couch to 5K and have really started to notice an improvement. I am hoping to run my first 5k this fall in Iowa. I also lift every other day as well. I am feeling much better about myself and plan to continue.

    Love your blog!

  6. says

    Your story is so inspiring, Carolyn! I always told myself that I wasn’t a runner either…and was so excited to finally blow that notion out of the water. I’m so glad to be a part of this challenge with you!

  7. Nancy Musser says

    I am on board! My son needs to cross train for hockey and today we are starting the “couch potato to 5K” program. Reading your story inspired me to fight through my back problems and pain and do it! Thanks Carolyn!

  8. says

    So good to hear your story. It is hard to believe that I said the same thing a year ago. “I’m not runner.” Won’t it be fun to look back a year from now and see how far we’ve gone? Literally. ; ) Keep on truckin!

    • Carolyn says

      Yay, Lynn! I think we may be starting a big facebook page for all of our reader-runners to sign up. Should be a great running support network!

  9. says

    Love your story and this is a great idea! I used to run a lot, but unfortunately a knee injury keeps me more on the elliptical machine these days. But I’m running in my mind!!

    • Carolyn says

      Ugh, sorry about the knee Karen. That’s rough, but at least you are still moving, getting on that elliptical.

  10. says

    Carolyn, this article could have come straight from my journal! I never thought I would be, or even could be a runner. Fortunately, about 4 years ago my boyfriend kept pushing me and nagging me to go running with him, and just to get some peace of mind I conceded.

    It took me at least two months to feel like I wasn’t going to pass out from running! But once I reached that point of maintaining my energy and focusing on my breath, running actually felt pretty good. And now it’s a daily thing :)

    Thanks so much for this post, reminds me of how far I’ve come personally, and how anyone else can do the same!

    • Carolyn says

      You should join us and sign up for a race on the weekend of the 8th. I think support in running is integral, having people cheer you on!

  11. says

    This is a refreshing change in your usual posts, Carolyn. I have always loved running, but having stopped for years, I need to take it easy, work it up slowly too. I’m aiming at joining fun runs and marathons by next year. :-)

  12. Katharine says

    Thanks for the motivation Carolyn! I found a local race on September 9 and it happens to benefit a cause that’s very meaningful to me! I’m taking that as a sign. I injured my knee maaaaany years ago training for a half marathon. Not enough cross-training, I think. But since I’ve had to change my diet for blood sugar reasons I’ve actually had less knee pain in the last 8 months! More protein? Healthier diet overall? Low carb? Who knows, but it’s an unexpected perk to the diet changes I’ve had to make. Appointment with the physical therapist is on the books so I can make sure I keep injury at bay when I step up the running. I love a goal/challenge!!

    • Carolyn says

      Yay, Katherine! So glad you are joining. Be careful with that knee, but as long as you take it slowly, I think you’ll find you build up the strength slowly and it won’t be a problem. Check out my most recent post for the link to a new RFR facebook group where everyone is signing on. This is exciting!


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