If you are reading this blog and you think that you cannot possibly become a runner, I’m here to tell you that it can be done! Even though I have always been athletic, I never considered running a fun activity. It took three years of consistent invitations from 2 of my running friends for me to gather up enough courage just to sign up for a 5k!
Just like any other activity that I have done, I jumped in with both feet and decided to use the couch to 5k plan. I remember this summer being unseasonably hot which made solo training that much more difficult. Combine that with my decision to start graduate school that fall on a whim and you can understand how my focus shifted off of running. I remember the week before the race when I should have been running for 30-40 minutes straight, I went out to run “as far as I could” (read: 1.25 miles).
Race morning came and my husband (who did not train for the race due to grad school) and my friend piled in to the car to park downtown. There was such a buzz at the start line while we were waiting for the announcements. I got so wrapped up in the moment that I decided on the spot, I would run this race for time. By the time I got to the finish line, I thought that I was going to throw up. I could not imagine why anyone wants to run races! I went to get some water and wait for my husband and friend to finish. After walking around the finish line area (and eating smiley cookies), it made sense to me. It was more about the running community. This amazing and encouraging group of people that go out to test their limits, to increase their physical fitness, to have fun with their friends. This is why people run.
On that day, I also decided that I “needed” to sign up for another race just to get a medal. After all, when you do all of that work and commit to a goal, you should have something to show for it, right? My husband and I decided that we would sign up to run the Pittsburgh Half Marathon that spring but the lore of a zip front tech shirt, a medal and the chance to be a part of an inaugural race was enough for me to sign up for the EQT 10 miler that year. I set a goal for that race and I was proud to come in under my time goal on that day.
I have to be honest though and say that the first year I committed to running was a love hate relationship. I remember a few times where I literally cried out of frustration because I couldn’t keep up with my husband on training runs. In addition, I also stopped and started training long enough between cycles that I felt like I was starting all over again each time. Eventually, I got the hang of incorporating strength training and keeping up a training base so that I am a happy runner these days! The two best tips I can offer from this period of trial and error is to find a running group and adding strength/cross training into your schedule so that you minimize injury risk due to muscular imbalances.
Also in that first year, we would go on to run races in 3 different states, complete our first marathon, and join our local running club. We would also go on to get more of our friends and family involved in running. Now I could not imagine my life without the friends and adventures that this sport brought to us.
Currently, hubs and I are on a mission to run a race in every state and I am on my journey to become a RRCA certified running coach. To date, I have completed over 50 races including 4 full marathons, and 17 half marathons in 10 different states and D.C.
I think that the running community has something for everyone. We’re just waiting for you to join us!