“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”-Hebrews 12:1-2
“When you believe in your abilities, you can run any distance, including the distance you once believed was impossible.”-Michael D’Aulerio, Author of A Runners Secret: One Run Will Get It Done
In March of 2018, I set out on a journey to start running. I’ve always considered myself athletic; I played softball for 8 years, I swam for as long as I can remember, I played church basketball every season, I ran track for two years in high school, I did gymnastics for 4 years when I was younger, and I even played powder puff football in high school. Most of my middle school and high school memories revolve around sports of some kind. The one sport, though, that I never found myself participating in was running. You might be thinking, “You just said you ran track. How do you not participate in running?” You’re right, I did run track in high school, but I sprinted. My main events consisted of the 100, 200, 300, and the occasional 400 if I needed to fill in for someone. I really didn’t like running more than the 400, which for those of you who know, is a quarter of a mile. But in March of 2018, something changed and I was motivated to start running. I thought, I’m athletic I can do this. Well news flash, running is way different than playing sports. I quickly found out that I couldn’t even run 1 mile without stopping. Talk about feeling defeated! I was so upset I text this one girl I knew who had just run a half and asked for her help in training. In my head, I had planned for a half-marathon that fall. My body definitely thought otherwise. But never the less, she told me to run 2-3 times a week starting with 3 miles. Each week I would add on a few miles. Ha! I ran maybe 1 mile the first day and walked the other 2. I didn’t even make it to day 3 of training. I gave up. I couldn’t run 1 mile, so there was no way I was going to be able to run 13.1 miles. So that was that.
A few months passed and it’s now December. I mentioned to a close friend my desire to run a half-marathon. Not many people knew about this desire because I was embarrassed I wanted to do something I physically couldn’t do. I kind of expected her to respond by saying, “Oh yeah that would be cool” or “Haha that’s a lot of running!” but nothing serious. Y’all, I was so wrong. She looked at me right then and there and said “Let’s do it.” She immediately sent me a half-marathon training plan for beginners and we started running a few days later. And let me tell you, running was just as hard then as it was back in March. BUT I had a running buddy. We planned our schedule so we were running 3 days a week, with our Saturdays set aside for a long run. Fast forward 3 very long months of training and on March 17, 2019, I ran my very first half-marathon ever. AND IT WAS THE COOLEST EXPERIENCE OF MY LIFE. Let me expand on this.
Like I had mentioned earlier, running was a huge struggle for me. I couldn’t run 1 mile without having to stop. I kept quitting. I didn’t have motivation. And I bet a few of you reading this are in the same boat as I once was. So here are 3 tips I used when getting started with running last December that kept me from quitting.
- Find a buddy. Having someone run with you is the BEST motivation. Imagine trying to get up at 7 am to run 4 miles before class alone. Come 7 am, you might want nothing more than to stay in your warm bed and keep sleeping, but it’s way harder to stay in bed if someone is waiting for you. Especially if it’s 35 degrees outside like it was in December. So if you’re serious about running, find someone who won’t let you skip your run, but will encourage you to get your lazy tail out of bed.
- Follow a plan. If my friend hadn’t sent me the half-marathon plan, I don’t think I would have been as prepared for the half as I was. Each week, I followed that schedule almost to a T. There were days when I wanted to run 2 or 3 miles, but in order to continue building my endurance, I really needed to run 5 or 6. As each week passed, I was closer to the half-marathon date, but I was also adding on a mile or two each Saturday. Running 4 miles each week will make you really great at running 4 miles, but it doesn’t help with running 13.1. Following a plan really helps you stay on track.
- Buy a new pair of shoes. Running in the right pair of shoes can either make or break your running career. Seriously. Depending on how your feet hit the ground, how large your stride is, how much pressure is on certain parts of your feet, different shoes will benefit your body better. Running is hard on your body, that’s probably not new information. So you have got to make sure you have a pair of shoes that support your body weight and cushion the repetitive pounding on your joints. Find a local running shoe store that measures your feet and watches you run and walk in order to determine which shoe best works for you. I’ve found that the more pain I’m in, the less likely I am to run. That probably goes for a lot of people. But also, who doesn’t love buying a new pair of shoes? If I buy a new pair, I want to use them right away. So if you’re like me, this might motivate you to actually start running. 😉
Those are 3 tips I used continually when training for my half. I relied on my friend to motivate me, the plan to keep me on the right track, and the shoes to carry me as far as I needed to go. I hope those 3 tips will help you get up and get outside to run because running is so darn rewarding. Oh, before I forget though, let me mention this: running outside beats running inside any day. The fresh air is better for your lungs, the scenery keeps you from getting bored, and most of the time, the ground is softer than a treadmill, which is better for your joints.
Okay, now I can finally tell you 3 reasons why running is so rewarding and why I love it. I could write more than 3 reasons, but I’ve been sticking to 3 bullet points in almost all of my blogs, so I’ll keep it that way.
- Reward #1 – adrenaline. Y’all, I am an adrenaline seeker. Anything that brings me adrenaline, sign me up. Roller coasters, scary movies, haunted houses, cliff jumping, even running. I know running doesn’t sound like an adrenaline pumping experience. But it totally is. The way you feel after a run is honestly such a high. Maybe you’ve heard people talk about runners high that some experience while running. Well, I don’t exactly experience this high while running, but I most definitely do after. During a run, I can sometimes get to this plateau where it’s easier to keep running than it is to stop, but the real adrenaline pump is when you’re finished running. All the blood and adrenaline rushing into your veins is a reward in itself.
- Reward #2 – knowing that your body is capable. In March of 2018, I was feeling pretty defeated about running. I thought I would never run more than 3 miles, on a good day, too. But the more work I put in, the more my eyes were opened to the strength of my body. Every time I was able to add a mile onto my long runs, I was so impressed with my body. I really and truly have never appreciated my body and the things it can do more than I do today. Don’t tell yourself you can’t do it. I know you can. Your body is absolutely capable.
- Reward #3 – getting to share your accomplishments with others. If you’re in school, at work, at a conference, or somewhere where you’re supposed to share a fun fact about yourself but never know what to say, now you have a fun fact about yourself. I told everybody I knew that I just ran a half-marathon. Strangers, family members, classmates, anyone who would listen, I made sure to tell them I did this really cool thing. I trained for it. I ran all 13.1 miles without stopping. I did it with a huge smile on my face. It was an incredible experience I wanted to share with anyone and everyone.
There are so many more rewards from running that I could share with you, but I hope for the time being those 3 motivate you to start running. Start small. There’s no need to run 10 miles tomorrow morning. Like the turtle picture at the top of the post says, “Your speed doesn’t matter, forward is forward.” That ties so nicely with the quote from author Michael D’Aulerio. Believing in yourself makes a huge difference. In March of 2018, I was defeated and I didn’t believe in myself. But in December of 2018, I changed my mindset and I started telling myself, “I can do this”. Now look where I am. I am about to start training for my second half-marathon this fall. I know I can do it. I know you can do it, too. You just have to believe in yourself. It doesn’t matter how fast you’re running, just start running and keep running. The more you run, the more endurance you’ll build up which will take you farther than you ever thought possible. There’s almost this cycle. At the top is telling yourself you can do it. At the 3 o’clock position is you actually doing it. At the 6 o’clock position is the endurance being built up. At the 9 o’clock position is a farther distance due to the endurance. Then we’re back at the 12 o’clock position of telling yourself you can do it. It all starts with telling yourself you can do it. From there, you run, build up endurance, and keep running.
Speaking of endurance (see what I did there?), Jesus so clearly tells us to run the race with endurance. This adventure we call life is just a race to the finish line. Some are just starting the race, some are closer to the finish line, but we’re all running the same race. Luckily, just a few feet in front of us is Jesus. He’s there to cheer you on and to see you to the end. When we want to stop, he’s there to tell us to continue running. When we are thirsty, he’s there to hand you some water (if you haven’t already, check out my blog about drinking water down below!). When we’re tired, he’s there to be your support. Jesus is your buddy motivating you, He is your plan to success, and He is the shoes that carry you. So look to Jesus. This race is hard. It’s harder than any half-marathon will ever be. It has obstacles. It’s hilly. Some days it’s cold. Some days it’s hot. Some days you just wonder where all this water under your feet is coming from. But look to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith. So girl, go for a run!
P.s. – Here’s my water blog! https://girldothething.wordpress.com/2019/07/28/girl-drink-your-water/
P.s.s. – Here’s the half-marathon training plan I used for all of you who are curious!