“Let me start by saying I hated running, and I wasn’t good at it.”
I started out running a few 5K’s these last couple of years and they were fun, but I wanted to accomplish something more. Last year I was sitting on the couch feeling like crap due to a night of drinking and eating when I turned on the TV and started watching the Broad Street Run (one of the oldest & largest races in Philly). I was amazed by the energy and excitement of everyone out there, actually so amazed that I decided I was going to do it. Why not? 10 miles – no big deal. Actually I knew it WAS A BIG DEAL – for me.
There were a couple of reasons I signed up. First, I wanted to see the city – mindfully. I’ve traveled down Broad St many times, rushing to class at Temple, going out for dinner and drinks, or hanging at a friend’s place. But usually that was flying down this major artery into the city trying to make every green light all while bypassing neighborhoods and dismissing all of the historic richness and hidden treasures of the city. My second reason was to accomplish something great, running 10 miles with 40,000 people through the City of Brotherly Love. So I gave myself one year to train and here are some things I’ve learned along the way.
1. Give yourself time/Go at your own pace
I started out barely running a quarter mile before I was out of breath, taking my inhaler and walking for the next half minute. I knew I had time so I took it one day, one step at a time. At first it hurt, my breathing, my calves, my shins, it was painful some days but the pain passed quickly after the run. I read up on tips to see if it was normal and slowly pushed forward. Don’t compare! Just go at your pace, you’ll get there and there’s plenty of advice out there if you need it.
2. You can push further than you think
For a while I was doing about a mile and a half and then would stop to walk, then run again. It seemed like I couldn’t push further than that mile, until one day I did. You can do it, you just have to push a little. BUT make sure sure it’s little by little. You can’t go from running 1 mile to 5 or you may get hurt, slowly increase distance. And remember it’s ok to walk too, but breaking the mental barrier is huge. And for me I noticed once I got past the first 2.5 miles it seemed a little easier, I settled into my pace. For me I know that the first 1.5 is harder than the 4th or 5th. Take notice each step of the way.
3. Cut down/out bad habits
About 6 months into my training, I hit a plateau and most of my issues were around breathing. I knew what I had to do! The day I signed up for the race I quit smoking. I was a one-a-day smoker but still a smoker. Quitting helped me add more distance onto my runs and after 1 week I noticed a huge difference in breathing and endurance. Another change I made was to drink more water. I was still having calf pain so I tried to be more conscious of water intake as well as less alcohol consumption when training for those long weekend runs.
4. You will have cheerleaders but not everyone is team YOU
This one is interesting because I was feeling good about my progress and dedication, and some people are with you on that. But you’ll have others who mock it and they may be joking but there’s truth behind every joke. Some people would poke fun, make comments or snarky remarks, but I just brushed it off. There is always a green eye in the crowd just remember you’re doing it for you.
5. The pain DOES go away
It seemed like forever – months, but the shin and calf pain does go away. Just make sure you have rest days and keep it up.
6. You will feel better
For the longest time, I hated the run but loved the feeling after I ran, so much so that I felt bad on days I didn’t run. My initial goal was to complete the race not to lose weight but during training I lost a little. However losing weight or not overall I felt better and that’s what keeps me going – even now.
7. You gain freedom
This one came towards the end. It was like an epiphany. The last couple of weeks in training, I actually started to enjoy running and it was at this same time, and maybe had something to do with it, but I felt a sense of freedom. Working out or going for a run was my time. I stepped out the door, put my headphones in and it was just me, myself and I.