Not all races end at the finish line.
Stay tuned for tomorrow’s post where I recruited my friend Lance, an incredible human and marathoner, to give you his expert tips for beginner runners!
I have always loved running since I was little. I remember being one of the fastest kids in Elementary School and every year appointed the captain of the girls relay race at our annual field day. Sprinting was a strong suite of mine, which got me involved in track and field and field hockey when I entered High School. However, it wasn’t until I was a Junior in High School that I decided that I wanted to run cross country. The supportive environment of the team was something that I always loved, despite the sport being relatively individualistic. Running these long distances was something that I was never proficient at, but I knew that I wanted to push myself- if I was able to compete on the team I would be showing myself that I was capable of doing something I had never thought I could do. A few races into the season, however, I was out of commission. At one of our 5k races, I left the start line feeling O.K., pacing myself and focusing on my breathing. Yet, as I entered the middle of the race, I could feel a sharp pain in my left ankle, as I was entering the steep woods portion of the race. What I thought was mere tightness in my ankle, I would later find out was a stress fracture in my left Fibula bone. I was out for the season after that, having to walk in a boot for several weeks. I remember dreaming of running again every day I drove past our school’s vast fields going to and from school.
Upon entering college my Freshman year, I remember the gym as being a place of solace for me. My college gym had an indoor track on the second floor that I would frequent and found an immense stress relief. Whenever I felt bummed about not having plans on a Friday night or could feel my anxiety creeping up on me, I would shuffle my way to the gym for a run, music blasting on high. Sometimes, it was the only way that I could make it through the week- a way for me to just be present. When Sophomore year rolled around, I became incredibly busy with a new on-campus job and friends that I put off my regular running for a bit. Yet, when my anxieties ramped up again Junior year, I knew I had to return to my running for some much needed sanity. But, I needed a way to stay committed. I decided to sign up for the New York City Marathon, something that I never thought that I could do, but was on my bucket list. I began training in January of 2019, knowing that I would need a head start if I was going to complete this thing. I spent hours training, going on runs in the pouring train, indoors on the track, and outside in the Boston Spring air. As the summer came, I was really hitting the ground, coming home from my internships in New York City to run in the summer heat or running along the West Side highway after work. I went from barely being able to run over two miles without stopping, to running eight miles in one shot. I became the runner I never believed I could be. Until I hit a wall. After many bouts of heat stroke, constant stress in trying to balance my two internships, and an ankle injury, I knew enough was enough. I was going to have to put my dream of running the New York City Marathon on hold that year. I would complete the marathon at another time, and that would be O.K.
I share my story because I want you to know that, even if you think that they can’t, you can become a runner too. Even during my runs, I would question how I could be doing all of this running. How could I mentally, physically, and emotionally get up and run almost every day? But, I just did. Forcing myself into my workout clothes also helped!
It is important to recognize that any progress is some progress. Every run of mine was hard in some way or at some point, which is a reality that is important to grasp. If you know that at some point the workout will be hard and you will want to quit, it becomes an inevitability that you know will pass once you get over that wall. And once you do that is where the magic is. Sometimes I would surpass that mental wall and find myself being able to run for miles- feeling a “runners high” that was altogether unexplainable.
It just starts with one small step, then a leap, then a jog.
Here are some tips that have helped me:
- Remind yourself that you will hit a “wall” on your runs- acknowledging this is half the battle. Once you get over the “wall” of sluggishness you will feel amazing. You have to convince your body that you are deciding to spend your energy and calories on this run, the sluggishness comes from your body wanting to preserve the energy and calories you are spending. Basically it’s your body asking “Are we really doing this?”.
- Get a fanny pack to store your phone and keys while you run. They are way better than arm bands, as the weight is equally distributed to your center.
- In your mind, set a goal before you start and commit to it, you can surpass the goal or slightly modify it, but try to stick with it every time.
- Keep track of your progress, this will motivate you when you are feeling down and show how much you have accomplished so far.
- Share your progress with someone that can celebrate the small wins with you.
- Take it slow, progress in running can take a long time and ramping up too much in the beginning will only lead to discouragement and injury.
- Get good running shoes, the less that is inhibiting you from being comfortable, the easier it will be to get out there and run.
- Find a go-to song that will get you hyped up and energized when you are feeling sluggish in the middle of your run that can activate some much needed energy to help you get through.
- The best thing about running is that you can always convert the run to a walk and still be exercising, its O.K. to slow down sometimes when you aren’t feeling too hot.
- Go for time not for milage if you are aiming to run long distance. My goals were running for an extra 5 to 10 minutes at a time, slowly increasing as I was able to run farther.