Running: Not So Scary Anymore

How I Started Running

During quarantine, I started thinking about how I should maintain a healthy lifestyle. I will be the first to admit I was not a regular “gym nut", but I have always enjoyed being active and setting goals for myself physically. A couple of years ago I realized that running a half-marathon was on my bucket list, but I had no idea when I would start training or how I would even begin to accomplish this seemingly far-fetched goal. Luckily, I have a coworker who loves running and she said she would help me train. I have never been a runner, never. I dreaded running the mile in gym class, and when I did, I always had to walk most of it because I was just not good at running. Because of this, running has always been a very daunting topic. Luckily, with the amazing trainer I had, a lot of hard work, and a lot of self-compassion, I am now a very mediocre runner… What? It takes time!

How I Kept Running

One of the first things that helped me get started running was finding the right trainer/accountability partner. One of the biggest problems I had in the past was that I would make a goal, have too high expectations, one bad thing would happen, and I would quit. I had no one to talk to, no one to get advice from, and no one to simply cheer me on. My trainer was super helpful working with me to make a weekly schedule that would fit with my work schedule, as well as give myself plenty of rest so I wouldn’t burn out. I would also text her after every run and give her an update. This was extremely helpful because I knew she was waiting to hear how the run was, which helped me get out of bed to run, but I was also excited to update her on how I was doing, whether the run was good or bad. She was there to give me advice when I had a terrible run, help me find stretches to keep my body feeling okay, and cheer me on when I reached a new accomplishment. Having someone else there helping me achieve my goals was a huge help to stay dedicated to my goal.

What Keeps Me Running

One of the next things I did was make a goal, but a very realistic one. I knew that at some point in my life I wanted to run a half-marathon, but I knew that if I wanted to stick with my goal, I had to start small. Instead, I chose to train for a local 5k that would happen the following year (it was canceled this year due to COVID). This was a realistic goal that I could easily increase by adding miles or working on a better time, and I could also find multiple races if I reached my goal faster or needed more time to complete it. This goal was also far enough away that I didn’t have any pressure on my training schedule. If I needed to repeat a week because I didn’t feel comfortable running that distance or time, I could. I could also have a bad week and not feel overwhelmed thinking of progress I lost and the schedule I needed to maintain. Having a goal and a date helped me keep a schedule, but not have it be too rigid that I would get overwhelmed and quit.

How I Run

The next thing I had to do was set a schedule and routine for myself. I started running at the end of June, just when it was getting hot, so I knew I needed to run in the morning to avoid overheating and not get sick on my runs. This meant I needed to prepare the night before – to set an alarm and get enough sleep so I would feel good on my runs. I also dedicated certain days to running; I knew my weekly work schedule by Sunday night so I could plan my week around the mornings I planned to run. I made sure I had a good dinner prepared for the night before, a good breakfast I could take in the car on the way to the park where I ran, as well as enough time to shower and get ready for the day before I had to be anywhere. I also found that running to podcasts was easier for me than running to music. This was surprising to me because I was not a huge podcast lover until I started running. I realized that my body changed too much to the beat and expected breaks when songs ended, so listening to music didn’t work with long-distance runs. I found a couple of podcasts that I loved and would keep me entertained for the duration of my run, and I was off.

Running always felt like one of those things I wanted to do, but never could. By breaking it down into small goals, a routine, and having someone working with me and cheering me on, running became something I enjoy and look forward to every day. Running is extremely difficult, but it is doable. If you want to do something, you can do it!

Cheesy. I know. But honestly, a mantra to live by.