I am still processing though the fact that I knocked off another huge “bucket list” item this last week. Two actually. 1. To run a half marathon. 2. To sit down with an entire bag of Oreos all to myself!
Honestly, both were a little anti-climatic! How could they be? I’ve been working and running and training for this for the last 4-6 months! Well, here is the truth. I think actually training for a half marathon is almost harder, takes more motivation and discipline than running on race day. And second, well… I have three kids. So a package of Oreos all to myself didn’t last long, even though my husband bought them their own as well. They are like piranhas, I’m telling ya!
But the words of my husband and friends around me probably sum it up the best: Six months ago I’d talk willingly and opening about my hatred of running. Saying all sorts of things like, “I am not built to run,” or “it just isn’t fun!” But in just a short time I have actually completed my first 13.1 mile race, but even more noteworthy is the fact that I still went running this week, when a race was no longer staring me in the face. I sorta like running now. Not in a this-comes-easy to me way. Not in a all-I-ever-want-to-do-is-run way. But running isn’t kin to pulling my nails out anymore. 🙂 Even better – the side effects of running are spilling over into every area of my life.
A banner for the normal people
I am normal. I am ok with that. In fact, if I can hold the banner for all the normal people to unite under, I will gladly! Normal people can do amazing things:) Especially when it comes to fitness. Like you, I’ve wondered how I will ever fit exercise into the busy life of being a mom. I’ve wondered if I will ever do a sit up again after having kids. I’ve wondered what form of weird-alien-life runners really were, cause loving running could not possibly be normal.
I am not a self motivated, overly ambitious person. In fact, I stumbled into signing up for my first half marathon partially by accident…it was always one of those goal to do “someday.” And I really only started running when the freaky reality of actually being registered for a race was staring me in the face! So, fully risking sounding trite I’ll just say it, “If I can, you can.”
Here are some tips, told and discovered, that got me past that initial hump that usually sends you back to the proverbial drawing board.
1. Set aside pace. For anyone who has gone to a good-old-fashioned American high school, chances are you have a 10-minute mile or faster pounded into your head. I was always taught time mattered. But for all of us…it doesn’t. In fact, if you are not a runner, trying to become a runner, you will only frustrate and exhaust yourself trying to run fast. You will burn out hard and the only fast thing you’ll end up doing is quitting. Go slow. Find a comfortable pace you can sustain and even speak are few words or sentences without gasping for air.
2. Go even slower to go far.
3. Music. Find away to get music on your run. A smart phone or an Ipod. Comfortable headphone that you aren’t wrestling with all the run long. I use my Iphone, a little waist pack to put it in, and tie the dog off to, and wireless headphones…cause cords are just annoying. Music motivates me like nothing else and also distracts me from my labored breathing. When the running gets hard, it helps transport me somewhere else.
4. Don’t over think it. Don’t ask yourself, “do I feel like running today?” Cause most days we don’t feel like it. Set a routine. (ie. Tues/Thurs/Sat) and if getting out the door is hard, set the cloths out the night before. Go on auto pilot, get dressed, get out the door. I promise you won’t regret it. 🙂
5. Cool weather. Spring and Fall are great times to start running. The weather is inviting. Don’t wait until July to decide to run. In the same way, don’t be afraid of the winter weather! You just add layers! To me winter is way more manageable than trying to stay cool in the hot summers.
6. The right clothing. Don’t think, “I’ll get that great jog bra or running pants after I’ve run [fill in the blank].” For me, having the right clothing made running more enjoyable and was a stepping stone to success.
7. Find some inspirational friends. Not joking. Reach out to those crazy runner friends you always thought were insane, and let them inspire you! Let their excitement bleed on to you! This is true in all athletics. We become too easily insecure, feeling inadequate, and caught in the comparison game. Often we quit or hide out cause we know (or fear) we aren’t as fast, or as in shape, or as…. Who the hell cares?!?
8. Swallow your pride. Yup. That just tags off the previous one.
9. Focus on the small picture. During the half marathon, I broke it down into small and manageable goals. There were aid stations every 2 miles. My goal? Make it to the next aid station. Short and simple. Cause standing at the starting line and thinking too hard about each and every one of the 13.1 miles was…down right overwhelming.
Dean Kazarnes, renowned ultra-runner uses a similar approach. An article on Wired.com shared the story:
Fifty-six miles into his first Western States Endurance Run – one of the oldest 100-mile races in the country – Karnazes found himself alone entering a canyon at twilight. It was tough going – the trek boasts a total elevation change of 38,000 feet. With 44 miles to go, his spirit was flagging, but he found a way to make it seem conquerable: He remembered the next checkpoint would leave only a marathon and two 10Ks left to go. He knew he could run each leg, and that helped him achieve the whole.
10. Trust your training. And do train. Many people run these races and don’t train! I don’t get it! But I think there is far more life-long value in training and building an active lifestyle, than in one epic moment. And honestly, the haf marathon wasn’t that stressful because I knew I had already run 12 miles. And 12 miles wasn’t too bad cause I had run 11 miles. And 11 miles was possible because a week earlier I’d done 10 miles. And so on…