Breaking the barrier is the secret of the 11th minute. If you have tried running and quit after just a few minutes because of how awful it felt, I have good news for you. The first 10 minutes are the hardest, and it gets much better after that.  Here’s why. 

Breaking the barrier is getting your second wind and overcoming

When you first start running, your body tries to get all the oxygen it needs from the air.  Your lungs are struggling to take in as much oxygen as your muscles need, and your heart is struggling to pump all that oxygenated blood to keep up with what the muscles need. When you are out of breath and your heart is beating rapidly, that’s when running feels the hardest.  But that feeling soon passes.

Within a few minutes, your body will switch to breaking down carbohydrates and fat to get the oxygen it needs.  Once that happens, your heart rate and your breathing will settle down.  Meanwhile, synovial fluid will start lubricating your joints. You will feel your stride get smoother. All of this takes about 10 minutes.  The trick to feeling good while running is to make it to the 11th minute.  And that is breaking the barrier.

If you’re thinking, “I can’t run that long,” my answer is don’t. Instead, start out very slowly.  Jog at an easy pace.  Take walking breaks if you need to. Just keep moving at a pace you can hold for at least 10 minutes.  Pay attention to the changes in your body. As your heart rate and breathing slow down, and your muscles loosen up, this movement will not only feel good, it will feel empowering.  

You will prove to yourself that you can get past a temporary barrier and keep moving confidently forward.


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Leslie Gold

Leslie Gold, Founder and Executive Director of Strides in Recovery Leslie is an RRCA-certified running coach who specializes in training the newly sober. As a volunteer at a residential addiction treatment program, she has coached hundreds of people in early recovery across the finish line of the Los Angeles Marathon, more than any other coach in the country. Years later, many of the participants still credit the group training and life lessons learned as critical to their long-term sobriety. Inspired by these success stories and numerous testimonials about the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual benefits of training for a challenging endurance event with the support of a team, Leslie started Strides in Recovery. The mission of this non-profit is threefold: 1) Bring running/walking-based relapse prevention programs to more recovery communities 2) Strengthen and grow the community of sober runners/walkers 3) Educate addiction treatment providers about the healing power of goal-oriented group training Prior to starting Strides in Recovery in 2018, Leslie spent three decades leading clinical and financial performance improvement projects, implementing decision support solutions, and generating analytics for hospitals and health systems across the US. She holds an MBA from UCLA and a BA from the University of Virginia. She regularly runs 40-50+ miles/week and has joyfully completed a 50K, 9 marathons, and numerous shorter distance events. She is also an avid cyclist.

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