I have never considered myself a good runner. I remember feeling so accomplished in the third grade when I was able to run the fastest mile in my class at around 12 minutes. Looking back, was that really an accomplishment? I mean obviously it was because let’s be honest, my short legs moving that fast in 3rd grade – impressive. But now, I’m constantly in a battle with myself about how to feel accomplished when I’m running.
I feel like all of my friends are runners and for some reason, people are able to run so incredibly quickly. When I see that my friends are averaging 8 minute miles and to me, that just seems crazy and not possible. I set up a goal for myself to run my races with an average pace of less than 10 minutes a mile. I’m sure it’s not that fast compared to most people but as long as I can do it, then my next step will be speed.
So, I signed up for two races in April. I’m crazy apparently but it was a great motivator for me to start working out again and start running again. The one thing that is so crazy to me is how much I’ve improved and how much further I can actually go. Sometimes, I forget just cool the human body is and how far we can actually go.
When I started running again, getting through one mile was hard. My legs would get tired, I had a hard time pacing myself, my lungs couldn’t quite figure out how to function at a comfortable pace. But luckily I stuck with it and eventually I went from running a mile to running three miles nonstop to 4.5 miles nonstop to 6.2 miles nonstop. And all under a 10 minute average pace.
I think that so far, the things that I’ve learned are:
- Learning how to pace myself is key. I’ve always had an issue where I can’t keep pace with myself. I have a tendency to speed up until I tire myself out and then I slow down so my pace fluctuates a crazy amount. I’ve gotten to a point where I think that I can keep relatively steady but on some days, I definitely still find myself running a lot faster than I was planning to.
- Blisters. Still trying to figure out how to solve this one. The longer mileage I run, the worse my blisters become.
- It is largely mental. I used to hate it when people would tell me that running was strictly mental because in my head, if my body can’t continue running then my body can’t continue running no matter how much I push myself. That being said, I did come around to the idea that is somewhat a mental thing. But let’s be honest, I am still a firm believer that your body can only go so far.
- Sometimes, a light jog is a good way to catch your breath. I am working on just slowing down slightly instead of straight up stopping and walking. It’s actually helped build up my stamina and keep my timing up.
- Strava is an amazing app. I think that I feel most accomplished when I see my mileage, my pace and how my pace breakdown turned out on the app. I like seeing all three of those things together and feeling like I did something right. Just knowing that I did the mileage and how long it took me is great, but it doesn’t give me the same sense of accomplishment. It’s funny really.
- Other workouts are key. To be honest, I used to get so discouraged when I ran because I only ran. I never really did other full body workouts to prevent injury which is probably stupid but at the same time, I honestly really peaked on my mileage around 3 miles in the past. I’ve been doing a bunch of other workouts on days that I’m not running and I’m actually seeing my strength improve, especially when it comes to my endurance when I run.
- Extra hydration is key. I am working on consuming over 80 oz of water a day. It’s hard, it’s super hard and I’m pretty sure people think I have bladder issues. But I have found that I do so much better when I am super hydrated and especially when I eat a little bit more, it helps. The early morning runs are super hard for me so we shall see how the races go.
Overall, this is probably one of my best accomplishments so far this year. I am proud of the mental prep and actual physical prep I’ve done to try and make sure I do this well. It’s been a long journey that has been fun and I feel like when I am finally done, I’m going to feel so accomplished. Plus, maybe this is the motivation I need to keep up my workout routine going forward.