Friday, August 5, 2011

Getting Started

Nobody is born a marathon runner. But anyone could be born capable of running a marathon. Unless there is a physical limitation to prevent this (although there are the inspiring few who overcome even this), with determination, training, and nutrition, you (and yes, I mean YOU) can achieve your running goal.

So how did I start? In my previous post, I mentioned how I once loathed running. In high school PE class when we had to run laps around the field, I'd be gasping for air after the first ~400m lap, if I was actually lucky enough to complete the lap. I hated my teacher for forcing us to run and though only negative thoughts about how I couldn't and would never be able to run.
I don't know exactly when things changed for me, but when I was about 20 or 21, I went out for a walk. Frustrated with failed attempts at weight loss for the entirety of my preteen and teenaged years, and negative perceptions about exercise, something ignited inside me and got me out for a walk. My feet carried me to my old school and, you guessed it, I ran around the field! I completed a lap and was very surprised that it didn't kill me. I didn't care if it was anger or adrenaline fueling my run and if my body would hurt the next day; I just kept going. I ran around the school. Then around the field again. Then around the school. I kept going. It felt amazing.

I took the memory of that day, reflected on what worked and applied the theory to future runs. I took on a challenge I felt was outside my comfort zone (the school track that had bad memories attached to), set a goal that wasn't insurmountable (one lap), and pushed myself harder when I met my goals with success.

To this day, I continue to apply the same theories to my running. My current goal is the Victoria Half Marathon on October 9th, 2011. It's not an insurmountable goal as I'm currently running 20-30km per week. But it's somewhat outside my comfort zone as running 21.1km in a day is something I've not done in 7 years! When I successfully complete the half, I'm going to do another one and try to improve my finish time. And soon, I'll be setting the goal of completing my first full marathon. But only when I'm ready, and not before.

The trick is knowing what you're ready for, and not allowing fear or insecurity tell you you are ready for less than what you really are. Be realistic, but aim high and tell fear/insecurity to hit the road (preferably the opposite direction from where you're headed out for your next run).

Last year when I started running again I knew that I was capable of training for a half marathon as I've done it before. But I started with what I was ready for, and signed up for the 5km ChildRun for BC Children's Hospital Foundation. I got sponsors to support me, and that held me accountable to my training. While it's a "fun run" that isn't timed, I was excited to report to friends and family that sponsored me that I finished the run in 32 minutes with a smile on my face.

In training, I started with mapping out routes using an online tool so I could see what 5km was for real! But I didn't start with saying I'd run all 5km at once. I'd run as much as I could and take as many walk breaks as needed. Along the way, I'd set "mini-goals" and push myself. If I were ready for a walk break, I'd tell myself, "not until you reach THAT tree - it will build character". I'd reach said tree, and earmark my next target for when I need to be ready to run again. If I couldn't do it, I wouldn't beat myself up about it. Everyone has bad days. But progress doesn't come if excuses are made consistently.

How did you start running? What prevents / prevented you from starting?

Need motivation? Nothing like buyer's remorse....Go buy yourself a new pair of shoes or a cute running top that's NOT on a discount / clearance sale. You will feel oh so bad about it if you don't get any use out of it :-)

Or if you need more positive motivation than the above (haha! maybe I should have started with this suggestion) - sign up for a race and get sponsors for it if it's attached to a charity. It will keep you accountable to both yourself and those who sponsor you. And the positive encouragement you'll get from friends and family is simply the best!

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