This being the first time I’ve seriously trained for a long run, I’ve learned quite a few things along the way….
1. Music makes running more fun.
This may seem like an obvious statement, but other than on the treadmill, I’ve never listened to music while running. I think it stems back to childhood. My grandfather used to be a dedicated runner, and trained me to always be aware of my surroundings, and be a conscientious runner. For years, that stuck with me (much like his lessons of driving with my hands at 10:00 and 2:00…I still do that, too). I finally came to my senses (and just don’t blare my music), and wow, it really does help. I’m brilliant.
2. Don’t run on shoes with no tread.
Yes, another obvious and very important piece of information. However — I’ve not been running this consistently since probably 2009. I am also trying to be money conscious, and tried to stretch my last pair of shoes as far as I could. Bad idea jeans. I found an awesome deal on a new model of Brooks on Amazon and saved myself $50 and the pain I would eventually get from shin splints.
3. Running with my dogs really slows down my pace.
My dogs are curious little creatures. At 60 lbs each, when they stop abruptly in front of me to smell something off the side of the path, they either trip me or cause me to stop and get them back on pace on the sidewalk. Of course, there is also the inevitable stop(s) to “mark their territory.” Of course, when we’re on a normal walk or jog this never bothers me. It’s only started to (selfishly) annoy me lately, when I’m thinking, “Oh, this is going to throw off my average mile time!” Sounds petty, but really I should just go on runs alone, and walk them separately so they can sniff and stop all they want. I still love my cute little running partners!
4. Running makes me HUNGRY!
After a long run, I am starving! Naturally, I crave a carb-heavy meal. But not only am I training for the 10k in 3 weeks (AHH!), but I do want to get leaner, as well. I’ve focused on more protein-heavy meals post-run (and in general), with natural sources of carbs (dried fruits, frozen bananas in my smoothies, the occasional Ezekial bread), lots of water and green tea, and healthy fats. Sometimes I think I would perish if I lost access to avocados.
5. Running can be fun.
Having a positive attitude really does make all the difference. Don’t get me wrong, some of my fastest runs have stemmed from anger or frustration on a bad day. But mainly, being positive and believing in myself have been key these last few weeks in getting me closer to my goal.
Example A: This girl who took selfies during the NYC Half Marathon and posted them to her Instagram. One of the funniest things I saw on the Internet all week!
6. Running really does get easier in time.
I work with a girl who has had 3 kids in the past 3 years. Even while pregnant with her last baby, she was so slim and healthy, and really didn’t seem to gain weight at all when she was pregnant (all in the belly!). Seriously, she bounced back like a celebrity — right back to her pre-baby weight after she had birth. How’d she do it? Daily dedication to her treadmill (along with a good diet and supplementary routines). I used to tell her how I would try to run, but I’m just “not a strong runner” and “I just hate it.” This sometimes still feels true. But she was right when she told me to just stick with it, even when you don’t feel like working out. Every time I lace up my shoes, it does seem easier. Like I said the other day….it doesn’t get easier, I get better.
Since I was a kid, I’ve had the mindset of learning lessons from tough experiences or bad things that happen. We all go through hard times. Having had a rough upbringing, I learned to be open to learning from every experience in my life, rather than letting bad times knock me down and keep me down. A ginormous thank you to my grandparents for installing that positivity chip when I was a little girl!
Running is so far from my favorite thing on the planet. But the more I push myself to explore it, and the more I push myself past what I “think I can do” and commit to “what I should do,” I grow from it. I’m thankful to have this perspective about not only exercise and my health, but also difficult people I encounter, awkward situations I put myself in, arguments with people in my life, or unexpected loss or hardships. Everything can be a learning experience and help us to grow as humans. We just have to stay open minded, keep our heads up, and decide to use our experiences as fuel to help us be better, kinder, stronger people.