Happy Friday my friends! It is a rainy day in the Capital District but no matter. Yesterday I got in six rainy miles after work with my running buddy Melissa. We were thinking of putting it off but it isn’t like you can ask for perfect weather come race day!
I enjoyed reading all of your reasons for running. Many thanks to Amanda for such a great guest post! Today I have a guest post from Sara, another Capital District female attorney (woo!) who is running her first half in the same race as me! Woohoo! Sara used to blog but hasn’t been as of late. You can catch up with her on twitter @lawgirl329. Take it away, Sara!
First off, thank you Katie for letting me participate in The Many Faces of Running! It felt great to blog a little bit again.
I’m not really sure why exactly, but last September I decided I wanted to learn to love running. I had just graduated from law school and taken the bar exam and I guess I wanted a goal, since for the past 3 years all of my goals had been law school related. At the time, I was actively blogging, and read about the Couch to 5k program on a few blogs. I checked it out and after I saw that I only had to run 3 days a week and for only 60 seconds at a time to start, I decided to give it a try. For someone who wanted to learn to love running, I wanted to run as little as possible.
Couch to 5k was a really bearable running program. It definitely eased me into running, and before I knew it, I was running two miles, without stopping. To top it off, while running those two miles, I didn’t want to die. I was shocked! After I hit that two mile mark, I decided to sign up for my first 5k right around the time I was scheduled to complete the Couch to 5k program. Despite a new job and moving 4 hours away, I sucked it up, stuck with the program, and got ready for the 5k. The last few weeks of the program, which were the first few weeks at my new job, involved a lot of improvising, but come race day, I was feeling pretty prepared. Prepared, and really, really nervous.
I won’t lie, that 5k was hard. I wanted to stop running after the first mile. The wind that day was unbearable. The course was somewhat hilly. I hadn’t trained on hills. To be honest, the thought never even crossed my mind. I kept pushing though. I really wanted to finish that race. And slowly, but surely, finish I did. In 41 minutes. Despite my less than speedy pace, I was so proud. I’d finished a 5k. I ran, albeit slowly, every step of the way, and for someone who only two months before could barely even run for 60 seconds, I was thrilled.
After that, I officially caught the running bug. New York winters can be brutal, and last winter was no exception, so I had to take some of my running indoors to the treadmill, which I loathe, but I did it. I started doing long runs on weekends. Before I knew it, a three or four mile run became the norm for me as a daily run. The craziest part? I was actually enjoying running, especially the way I felt after a run. Not to mention, running immensely helped with my 2010 New Year’s Resolution: to finally lose some weight!
Three months later, once spring time finally started to hit New York, I signed up for my second 5k. Fifteen pounds lighter and with three more months of training under my belt, I was nothing but excited about this race. I went into the race armed with a goal: to beat 35 minutes.
While 35 minutes still might not be all that fast, it was six minutes faster than my first 5k, or two minutes per mile faster. That’s a big difference. I told my sister to expect me to cross the finish line at about 35 minutes, so to make sure she was there with the camera. Well, good thing she came by a few minutes early, because I crossed the finish line in just over 33 minutes. I was so proud to have chopped so much time off my 5k time!
Unfortunately, after that race I was sidelined by a bad hamstring strain that required physical therapy. I had to take eight weeks off of running. I still did the elliptical and walked on the treadmill five days a week to keep up my weight loss and maintain my cardio.
When I was finally cleared to run again I immediately signed up for a 5k. I had zero expectations on my race time because I’d only been running for a couple of weeks before the race. So, when I crossed the finish line at just over 29 minutes, I couldn’t believe it. Under 10 minutes per mile pace. And, it felt good!
After that race it was official, I had learned to love running. It was then that I did something I never thought I’d have the guts to do, I signed up for a half marathon. Race day is October 10, so it’s fast approaching. The training has been going pretty well so far, I just completed my 11 mile long run this past weekend. Every weekend when I tack on one more mile to that long run, all I can do is smile during that last mile. No matter how sore and tired my legs are I bask in the fact that each step is one step farther than I’ve ever run before.
So that’s my story, I decided I wanted to learn to love running and I did. I had tried this many times before, but this time I was successful because I finally realized that running isn’t all physical, so much of it is mental. Couch to 5k got my body in shape for running. It slowly built endurance in my legs and my lungs, but it was my mind that got me past that wall I’d always hit before. Once I was in the mindset that running was something I really wanted to do, I found that I was talking myself into running farther, even when my legs started to get tired. I think that people don’t realize how mental a sport running really is. I’ve definitely had runs where my body is fine, but it’s my mind that isn’t getting me through. Unfortunately, they don’t have a Couch to 5k program for that.
If you’re like me and really want to become a runner, try a beginner’s running program to take the guess work out of it and just try to relax and enjoy it. I’m shocked at how natural running has become for me. Even more importantly, get your brain on board, not just your body. It’s amazing what you can convince yourself you’re capable of doing. And of course, when all else fails, try bribing yourself with new running clothes. It always worked for me 🙂
Sara, our running stories are so similar 🙂 I love the Couch to 5k program; it completely transformed me from a non-runner to a runner. If you’re a runner, how did you get started? Like Sara and I? Or were you a runner all of your life?
If you want to write a guest post for The Many Faces of Running Series, please feel free to email me at FitToWed at gmail dot com. I’d love to have you!