Tomorrow is April 1st. It is the first day of Autism Awareness Month.
On Monday, World Autism Awareness Day, hundreds of landmarks and millions of homes, including our own, will be lit up blue.
I hope you will consider lighting it up blue with the rest of us.
Tomorrow will also be exactly 24 weeks before the Boston 13.1 Half Marathon. I wrote about it a while back (I Want You) when Autism Speaks announced that it was teaming up with 13.1 to be the official charity of the Boston race. Many of you signed up and we already have over 10% of the slots designated for Team Up with Autism Speaks filled.
If you are sitting on the couch reading this, thinking, I could never do a half-marathon, I want you to stop to reconsider.
Even if you have never run.
Even if you rarely walk.
This is something you can do.
And by signing up with Team Up with Autism Speaks, you are not only taking on the challenge of completing a half marathon (a tremendous personal feat in and of itself), you are taking a pro-active role in making the world a better, more compassionate place for my Brooke and those like her.
As we get closer to the date of the race, I will make another push for the more hard-core runners to join my cause, but today, the day before Autism Awareness Month starts; today, the day my Brooke turns 9 years old (HAPPY BIRTHDAY BROOKE!!!); today, I want to talk to those of you who have been looking for a reason to get off the couch, out from behind the desk, out of the sedentary life-style; especially if you are are the parent of, sibling of, child of, relative of or person with autism – this is a way to get active AND make a difference not only for yourself but for others as well.
Some of you may know the story of how I got into running a little over 3 years ago. To be clear, I really disliked running, especially any distance over a couple of miles. Over the years I had tried running on, but it never lasted more than a couple of weeks. Three and a half years ago, Jess announced that she was going to run a half marathon…on the Cape…in the middle of February.
I thought she was nuts – she had never really run before. I wasn’t going to let her run a half-marathon in the bitter, winter wind of the Cape alone, so I told her I would run with her. As I began training, I remember thinking this really sucks. Long story short, a couple of weeks later something just clicked – I had found the joy in running.
Meanwhile, Jess never did manage to get her training going. I think a part of her problem was that she really had no guidance as to what to do. I had no idea what I was doing so I was no help either (I didn’t discover the online running community until mid-summer). She made an initial effort, but with no plan, the grand idea of running a half simply faded away.
Fast-Forward to about a month ago. When Jess heard that Boston 13.1 would be open to walkers who could maintain a 16:00 per mile pace, a dream was reborn.
This time however, she had a few things working in her favor:
- she wasn’t going to be running a half, instead tackling the distance as a walker
- she would be training during the warmer month, so she wouldn’t have to brave the bitter cold
- she knew a somewhat experienced runner to help put together a program for her that would ease her into the distance.
And so she started her program 2 weeks ago. I put together a 26 week walking program that would slowly build up over 6 months to get her to the starting line with confidence and to the finish line without pain. I drew upon several established programs for walkers and runners including C25K (Couch to 5K) and a modified Hal Higdon program. The program can be used to walk or run a half-marathon.
I have further modified the program and compressed it to 24 weeks, meaning if you start tomorrow; if you get off the sofa and out of the house tomorrow, you could find yourself walking/jogging/running a half-marathon in September. As big of a feat as it may seem (and is), it’s not as hard as you may think!
So I would like to encourage you to join me and Jess on September 16th at Suffolk Downs for the Boston 13.1 Half Marathon as part of the Team Up with Autism Speaks Team. If you are an avid runner, you don’t need the motivation to get out there, but if you’ve been looking for a way to get active and make a difference, this is your chance.
Don’t think about it, because you’ll talk yourself out of it. Just do it. Click —>HERE<— to join the team and then click on the link below to get the 24 Week Walking Training Plan.
You can do this!
AND if you are a Boston local, starting at the end of June, I will be organizing group runs/walks on the weekends leading up to the event along the scenic Boston Marathon course. It will be a run/walk at your own pace kind of a thing, but we will start and finish together. I hope you will join us.