I’ve been running consistently for just over two years. In the beginning it was a misery. I was constantly injured and sore all the time. I felt like quitting ALL THE TIME. But I’m not a quitter, and I can be extremely stubborn. Over time I gradually found that I was finding meaningful reasons to run. Some time over the past six months, everything has changed for the better. This past weekend I woke up to the shift in me, thanks to the running community.
Running has taught me many lessons about perseverance and following a structured plan. It’s also taught me first hand that even if I completely suck at something, I will improve if I am patient (!!) and keep at it long enough. I have also experienced how incredibly adaptable the human body is and that it is never too late to start. Despite all of these lessons, my training up to this past weekend for the Seattle half marathon on December 1st had been lackluster. I was even starting to have thoughts about running “for fitness” and not racing. On Sunday morning I reluctantly prepared for the 10km race I had registered for weeks ago as part of my half marathon training. I felt unprepared and nervous. It was cold out and I was whining about the merits of sleeping in on a long weekend.
When we arrived at the race site everything changed.
How could I have forgotten in such a short time what it’s like to participate in a race? Here’s a glimpse of the experience: strangers greeting each other with nervous smiles as we wait for the start; family members and friends lining the start and finish lines to cheer on their loved ones; a rainbow of t-shirts, shorts and hats – the brighter the better; every body shape and size imaginable working towards an individual, but common goal. The energy is infectious.
It must have been that energy that got me focused and moving because I ran my best race ever. My body has adapted to running and I now celebrate my current lack of injuries as much as I do my “personal best” race time. I also celebrate the fact that tonight I finally saw one picture of myself running that doesn’t look like someone is tearing out my fingernails. It’s the small improvements that count!
Here is a list of why I am finally falling in love with running
Racing keeps me accountable to my training
There are books, programs and marvelous resources like The Running Room all over the place. Even Lululemon and Mountain Equipment Co-op are in the running game. Running is booming and more accessible than ever. No one needs to figure it out alone. Just like any goal in life, a training plan breaks the goal down into smaller achievable steps. All I have to do is set a REALISTIC GOAL, follow the program and learn to trust the training. Blow the training and it’s a miserable day out there. Follow the program and anything is possible. It really is that simple.
I can see my improvement
I am a running geek. I am also lazy about keeping records for something I do in my leisure time. To bridge the gap between geek and lazy, I wear a GPS watch so everything is measured for me. All I have to do is wave my watch near my computer and it’s uploaded for me to see. The technology takes care of Lazy Laura. The Geek in me actually enjoys looking at the numbers, now that I am finally improving.
The spirit of the running community
Like I was saying before, the energy on race day is one hundred percent positive. Three years ago we went to support an Ironman and we became hooked on that feeling. Friends and family make comments about us having more time than they do for our leisurely pursuit. Bahahahahaha! It’s all about priorities. We lead a busy, stressful life just like they do. The benefits of running help me manage my stress and race day is a celebration of making our health and wellness a top priority.
Cheering for strangers
Okay, this is the best part. I love that most race organizers these days print the runner’s first name on our racing bibs. As soon as I’ve gobbled my post-race banana and potato chips (yes, it’s heaven on earth!) I run out to the finishing chute to cheer for random strangers. It’s the best! When we were in Ireland I meant to go and explore the town of Longford while Tony ran his half marathon. Two hours later I was still rooted to the spot taking pictures and cheering the victories I saw one after the other. A red-faced Irish woman who exclaiming “This is frickin’ hell!!” as she finished her first half marathon is forever emblazoned in my mind.
Knowing we are all the same
Male or female, young or old, tall or short, obese or lean, we are all the same that day. We are Human Beings who set a goal and are going for it. If you’ve never gone out to support a local race, you are missing out. Those strangers on the course need to hear you call out their name.