On Saturday I ran my first 5K race. You know, most people usually start off their racing careers with a 5K. A bearable distance. Something manageable to wrap the mind around and prepare yourself for mentally. But no, not me. My first race ever was a half marathon. And now here I am two years, two more half marathons, and a handful of 10K races later running my first ever sprint-distance race.
It makes total sense. I know.
I ran the race on Saturday with my good friend Anna. Anna and I went to college together. At school we used to run together. And when I say “run,” I mean gasp for air and complain about how badly our shins hurt for half of a mile before we turned around to go home and order calzones for dinner. But for some reason (because she’s sane), Anna never randomly decided to sign up for a half-marathon on a whim one day. She runs recreationally for fitness and health, but she never quite caught the running bug the same way I did. Yet…
[Anna and I before the race.]
Saturday was Anna’s first race. In fact, not only was it her first race ever, but it was going to be her first time ever running more than 2.5 miles straight through. When she agreed to run this race with me, I was beyond overjoyed. None of my friends who don’t already consider themselves “runners” will ever run with me, let alone sign up for races with me. (I’m marking that last sentence as formal, documented complaint to all of my non-runner friends.) Plus, watching someone start to actually enjoy the sport, especially a close friend, makes me feel like Leslie Knope in front of a plate of waffles topped with whipped cream. In other words, elated.
Of course, since it was her first race, I agreed to run the course with her and coach her through it, even though she totally didn’t need me and pretty much plowed through it all on her own. For some reason, she thought that I’m some crazy, super-fast speed demon that would have jerkishly left her behind at the sound of the start. I assured her such was not the case, and so we ran the race together for fun and it was a blast. The best part was that with about a half of a mile left, she was the one who said, “Let’s sprint the rest!” Can you imagine how proud I was? You have no idea!
So at the end we picked up the pace and pushed each other to cross the finish line together, which reminded me why I love running so much. Because on the most basic level, it’s just genuine, pure fun. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not trying to dismiss the significance of racing, and setting goals, and breaking PRs. Competition is fun in it’s own unique way too. But with all that aside, it still blows my mind that Anna and I, two people who used to loathe running more than Taylor Swift hates all of her ex-boyfriend’s combined, will now voluntarily sign up for and run a 3-mile race on a Saturday morning, just because. Just for fun.
My hope is that all you beginner runners out there (including Anna who’s now vying for a 4-mile race with me a few weeks from now!), will take this recap as a motivational reminder to just keep pushing through that initial struggle. I know, when you’re first starting out, running sucks and it probably even seems like torture sometimes, but I promise eventually that passes. If you keep running consistently, one day you’ll wake up, lace up your sneakers, head out the door and all of a sudden your workout won’t feel so awful anymore. In fact, it will feel so good that you’ll go home, blog about it (Oh wait, is that just me?), and then impatiently count down the moments until it’s time for your next run. So don’t give up! You will find that Runner’s High eventually. And trust me, it’s worth every moment of all the pain you have to push through to get there.
Plus, what’s even more fun than running, is the food you eat after!
[I ordered the prettiest plate of French toast at Cafe Du Soleil after the race on Saturday.]
Do you remember the first REALLY GOOD run? Your first race? What helped push you past the “beginner’s struggle”?
Are you currently a beginner runner? What is the hardest challenge to over come?
P.S. For some beginner runner tips, check out my Advice for Beginner Runners page