Appreciating all the miles

It is easy to get wrapped up in the “how far and how fast” conversation and mentality. (Anecdotally, I find this mentality mostly in non-runners.) I have a hard time not feeling competitive when these are the first questions out of someones mouth when talking running… either that or feeling apologetic – apologizing for my pace, or distance, or just generally feeling less-than.

I try to combat this by reminding myself how far I’ve come and that I’ve achieved so much in my first year of running. Not just races, and PRs, and improving distance and pace, but more importantly I’ve found something that fills me with joy and peace. I’ve found something that is good for my whole self and health and I’ve put taking care of myself as a priority. And, I’ve done all that while achieving other big milestones. I want to tell people about how running has changed me. And I do want to talk about my pace and distance achievements, but I in the context of the ups and downs that come along with the training process rather than as an endpoint.

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Runniversary – How did I get here?

April 26th was my runniversary! One year of running is a pretty big accomplishment for me and I thought you might like to know how I got here.

My friend Jamie began a jogging class at school and was really enjoying it.  She was planning on doing a 5k and I just had a moment of thinking “Yea, I can do that” and offered to run one with her! It was hard to even say the words out loud but once I had, I figured there was no going back. I’d spend the next few weeks training to run a 5k, then probably never run again. I’d never really enjoyed running. I slogged through the timed mile in high school, and dreaded track workouts when I played volleyball. There was a spurt of interest in running in high school where I sorta took up jogging after school but it didn’t last long and it was never structured.

Once I committed, Jamie and I picked out a race in early July and I began the Couch to 5K (C25K) program. I started on on on Week 2 Day 1 and it was not as easy as I hoped. I tried to not get frustrated at my slowness and inability to sustain a jog. The slow and steady progress prescribed in the C25K we helpful for keeping my spirits up as almost every run included some length of time of running i couldn’t do last week (90 secs, 2 minues, 3 minutes, etc.). I so distinctly remember Week 4 running 5 minutes without stopping and I was ecstatic. I came home and proclaimed “Babe! Two weeks ago 90 seconds of jogging was hard and I just sustained a jog for 5 whole minutes!”

The C25K program also gave me a sort of permission to run/walk without being a failure. I somehow had it in my head before I began, that runners don’t walk and that if I couldn’t sustain a run for the whole amount of time I was out, then I wasn’t doing it right.  How silly! I feel that the C25K program helped me see that I could succeed doing what my body needed and by pushing myself a little at a time.  One doesn’t just get up one morning after not running and run a 5K that day (unless you are my Mr…. I’ll never understand him!).

I persisted through the program and ran my first 5K  – The Whatcom Literacy Council 5K – on June 16th 2012. I ran most of it, and walked some, and I was so proud and happy at the end of it. Mr. was my cheerleader and when I came around the corner and saw his smiling face near the finish line, it gave me the push I needed to finish strong.

Ready for my first 5K

(This picture was taken by the wonderful MT before we were running buddies and it makes me happy that she was cheering me on from the start of this adventure. I think we both knew even then that we’d be dear friends eventually.)

That race began a love affair with races.  I ran 7 more races during the subsequent 6 months and finished 2012 in better shape than I’ve been in for years.

The story continues, but I’ll save it for another post as I don’t want to tire you out.  So, to be continued as the after school specials say.

What got you running?  Or what was the catalyst for adopting a new habit?