I hate running. A year ago if you were to see me running, it was likely because I was being chased by someone.
Other than a few 5k runs over the past few years that I had to run because it was for an organization I support, I haven’t run much since high school. I grew up playing soccer, which, yes I know, is basically all running. I whined my way through conditioning, and even as an adult, whined my way through forced cardio bouts of running on a treadmill.
So when a friend asked me and my husband to sign up for a half marathon with her and her hubby my natural first response was a big, fat NOPE.
13.1 miles? Again, NOPE!
13.1 miles is scary. It’s a lot more scary than the 3.1 miles (5k), that I somehow managed to survive.
But, this friend had recently had a baby and wanted support getting back into shape. Plus, she and her husband live in Vegas so it would be a good excuse to visit with them. (See how I am trying to justify what you can probably already assume is coming based on the title?)
So…I agreed (with a bit of prodding from my husband) and signed up right then and there, before I could talk myself out of it. I am not about to throw away money on a registration fee, so now I was in a contract! I had about 6 months to train for something I said I would never do.
Here is why you should too:
- There are free training programs galore that will take you from couch-to-half marathon ready. (I used this one) . Regardless of what level you are starting at, there is a training program designed just for you!
- Running will help you get back in shape (with proper diet, of course)
- Pushing yourself to the limit is not only good for your self confidence, but it is good for your overall well-being
- To cross something off your bucketlist feels amazing!
Once I came to terms with what I had just signed up for, I buckled down and got serious. Just kidding. I really went back to the couch and ate a consolation brownie. (<–true story)
Since our friends, whom I will refer to as the “eager beavers” for the remainder of this post, live 300 miles away, I had to find a way to hold myself accountable. Luckily, the eager beavers invited us to join a running challenge through the mapmyrun app.
When someone challenges me, it motivates me. I like to win.
It was a month-long challenge to see who could run the most miles. I started the first day of the challenge running one mile. That was when I realized I had a long way to go.
Running on my treadmill at home was rough. I had a child that was trying to drive his toy cars alongside my feet, and my teenage daughter trying to tell me about the latest 8th grade drama, all while trying to catch up on the latest episode of Scandal. Oh, and trying not to die.
The next day, I ran 1.5 miles, followed by 2 miles the day after that, and so on. Then I realized that following the training schedule I printed out was probably wise advice I should have listened to. Helllloooo shin splints!
Mistakes I made, that you should not make:
- Not following a training schedule from the beginning is a bad idea
- You have to build up your miles at a steady pace with recommended rest days so that you do not injure yourself (i.e. shin splints!).
- Pace yourself!
- I started out at a pace that had me completing a mile in 7 minutes. That was dumb since like I mentioned before, I don’t run! I eventually learned that slow and steady was the best route for me and ended up with a 10 minute pace that better suited me.
- Not investing in proper running shoes from the start
- There are several highly rated running shoes. I prefer Brooks or Aasics, in that order
- Stretch EVERY. SINGLE. TIME
- Fuel your body with good food
- I sometimes made the mistake of rewarding myself with not-so-healthy foods after my runs, figuring I had just burn a massive amount of calories and I could afford to do so.
- Getting proper nutrition before, during, and after your runs is SO important to give you the energy and recovery your body needs. (I have lots of good tips on this. Shoot me an email or leave a comment below if you would like to know more.)
We set up a run challenge each month leading up to the race. My training for this half marathon went right through the holidays. Getting through the holidays with an ounce of sanity is challenging enough on its own, but I was also finishing up my last semester of school and preparing to graduate as well.
On top of that, I had to force myself to run multiple times a week! Honestly, there were many days that it just didn’t happen.
I never completely managed to master the half marathon training schedule I set out to follow. I don’t think I ever even ran more than 7 straight miles at a time before race day came! (I HIGHLY RECOMMEND NOT MAKING THIS MISTAKE). But let me tell you, by race day there was nowhere to hide. I was going to run 13.1 miles.
February 14, 2016 came faster than I expected. Yes, we signed up for a race on Valentine’s Day, which in my opinion should not even be a holiday.
I often envisioned my grand finish a few different ways; 1) crawling over the line on the brink of death, 2) sprinting across as the crowd cheered wildly, and 3) ugly crying with the race photographer capturing that moment for me to complain about for the rest of eternity.
I also promised myself that I would finish no matter what. If I had to walk, I was going to walk. If I had to call an uber driver to take me to the last leg of the course, well, you gotta do what you gotta do. (Just kidding).
I am proud to say that I completed the race. Lucky for me, I finished by side by side with my friend with a renewed sense of “I can do anything” and aching hip flexors, and not one of my envisioned grand finishes mentioned above.
I finished in two hours and 40 minutes. Not the best time in the world but I wasn’t going for time. I did this to help out a friend, but also secretly to prove to myself that I could do it. I set an example for my kids that fitness should always be an important part of your life and that setting goals and following through to reach those goals is invaluable.
In the days following my race, I vowed to NEVER run another half marathon. Then, once I was able to walk normally again and got back into a normal workout routine, I thought, what the heck, and found myself googling upcoming races in my area.
I challenge you to push yourself to the limit. Find the courage to do something you never thought you would do, and work towards doing it. You won’t regret it.