Wannabe runners…this one is for YOU! How many times have you wished you had what it took to be a runner? Maybe you even started training for a half marathon, and quit not long after, telling yourself, “I just don’t have the running gene like those other people.”?? Before completing my first half marathon in 2007, I have to admit, I was right there with you.
I had tried and tried and tried to run—at the gym, in my neighborhood, in parks, at the beach— hoping desperately to catch that “running bug” and feel the “runner’s high” that I heard everyone talk about. Attempt after attempt, I found myself quitting…most of the time after just one single run. Why? Because it friggin hurt!!! Running was so uncomfortable for even just 5-10 minutes, and I couldn’t fathom ever loving a full 13.1 miles. I wrote all runners off as crazy pants liars who acted like they liked running when they really didn’t, and I stuck with lifting weights and nursing babies.
Fast forward to 2007, and I was sick of being the only human (it seemed) totally incapable of NOT being able to commit to a running event. I was seen as the fittest of my group of friends, and had a few years of training under my belt, and felt absolutely ridiculous for finding any excuse I could to NOT join in on the events. I decided something needed to change, so I finally committed.
After just 7 weeks of training (using my tips below), I successfully completed my very first half marathon. This was the first of MANY, as I really had caught the bug and felt the runner’s high!!!! (Legit…these are both very real things).
In honor of National Running Day (I’m down to the wire, posting this at midnight EST), I am helping YOU dig down deep to find that endurance athlete that I KNOW is in there. Read every word below…I am sharing my top tips to becoming the runner you’ve always dreamt of being!
Tip # 1: Get the gear. There’s nothing like some slick new running shoes and a great playlist to add extra motivation to your race training. 😉 If you can swing it, get a running tracker while you are at it. That was GOLD in helping me feel the excitement to get out and run. It “gasified” the experience for me and kept me competing with my previous pace and time. Here are some easy-to-forget items you should add to your list too:
Tip # 2: Slow and steady really does win the race. For me, when the reality sank in that it’s about “completing” and NOT “competing” (which I had heard at a RunDisney half marathon I was running), I was finally able to see myself as an endurance athlete. Until then, I never felt like I could be the kind of runner I assumed a runner had to be. I always thought that in order to be a runner, you needed to run the entire race. I didn’t realize that walk/run, or even walking the entire race was okay! If you attack the sport with this “completing, not competing” mentality, you will surely see that you too have what it takes. With time and training, your endurance will continually improve to where you CAN run the entire race!
Tip #3: Find and follow a good training program. Like with any sport, if you show up on race day just assuming you have what it takes to start and finish the race with NO training, you will surprise yourself in a not-so-good way. Even if you can complete the race, your body will be screaming at you (trust me, I’ve been there). Train for your running by following a good program to ensure your body is in the condition it needs to be in. There are so many well-priced—and even FREE—options online to choose from these days.
Tip #4: Start small. Who says you need to commit to a marathon right off the bat? Not me! Go start by signing up for a 10K, 5K, or even a 2 mile Fun Run. Just sign up for something, complete it, and start feeling like the champion you REALLY are deep down! Over time, you will grow your running event size like we grow our promises…little by little!
Tip #5: Practice makes perfect! When I first started running, I was worried I would NEVER catch on. Running even just ONE lap around the track (as I mentioned above) nearly took me to the ground at first. I was amazed at just how comfortable and enjoyable running became with consistency and commitment to the program—i.e. the runner’s high. Bottom line: Trust the process and don’t give up!
Tip #6: Join a running group! While I feel like ALL of these are very important tips, this might be at the top of my list…so I guess I saved the best for last. Any time you can make something social, you are much more likely to stick to it. Find a buddy or 2 (or maybe 10) and use your running time as time to catch up. It’s quite amazing just how fast the miles pass when you have someone to talk to. Also, by forcing yourself into conversation during your runs, are kind of forcing yourself to learn to breath because you need to to talk! I found my breathing normalized very quickly after practicing talking and running at the same time. Another bonus to talking? It helps me keep pace, believe it or not! I know by how winded I am during the conversation just how fast I am running.
From one wanna-be-runner-turned-runner to another, I know without a shadow of a doubt YOU GOT THIS. Just start with tip #1, be patient with yourself, and don’t give up. Before you know it, you’ll be completing your first race too!
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