Forrest Gump did it. And lately—from 5Ks to 26-mile marathons—everyone and her mom “just started running.” A few years ago, I asked myself and the blogosphere where everyone was going.
Now we ask Theresa Howard, 23-year Hoboken resident and director of children with special needs for the Hoboken Family Alliance. “I think running may have become more popular over recent years because people realized the value in exercise,” says Howard, “and running is one of the easiest things to do.”
Easy for her to say.
“You just need your running shoes and you walk out the door and poof! You’re running,” she says. “It doesn’t require money or membership, just your time and commitment.”
Speaking of running shoes, Howard’s first pair were beige sneakers with heavy rubber soles from Sears. “They probably weighed a pound each,” she says. That’s because it was 1978. Howard typically gets up in the 5-to-6 a.m. range and runs about three miles five days a week. Her 15-mile weekly commitment is small potatoes compared to the 45 miles a week she used to run.
“My routine varies because sometimes as a working mom with two kids, a husband who also works, and so many activities and commitments, schedules don’t always go as smoothly as you like,” she says. “On the best days it’s a finely tuned machine. On the worst days, it’s chaos. Mostly it’s somewhere in between.”
In addition to everything else, Howard also runs her own strategic marketing firm. So what is her motivation?
“I need to run. I need the time to clear my head, unwind, think, or plan my day,” she says.
Oh, did we mention she runs marathons? Howard advises, “Follow a schedule that lets you build and progress over time. It's amazing how your body adjusts. I ran my first marathon in 5:19 because I had never run more than 13 miles. I went from seven to 13 easily enough so I thought, ‘How difficult it can be to go to 26?’”
Though Howard once ran regularly with the Hoboken Harriers, today she mostly goes solo. “I usually run alone because I have to go on my own schedule,” she says. “Running with a group or partner pushes you, but right now I can’t make the schedule work.” The most unique part of Howard’s running regimen is that she’s not tangled up in headphones. “I like the quiet,” she says. “I never run with music or gadgets. I just run with my own thoughts. I had been running so long without gadgets that when I tried running with music it totally threw me off.”—07030