Mandy and I have an awesome group of friends who run. We hope to have some of them be guest bloggers so that we can share lots of different perspectives and experiences.
This past year our sister-in-law Melissa started running. October was a very exciting month as she ran her first 10k with us at the Stratford Festival City Race. (This was where Mandy and I ran our first 10k several years ago). Melissa, thanks for sharing your experience with us. – J –
“Lifetime athlete?” This is the question asked of me by my new Garmin watch as I was setting up the user profile. “Is there a ‘Hell, no’ option?” I mused. The truth is, I’ve never been very athletic. In school, I always performed better in the library than I did on the field, and while I have maintained an active lifestyle, I don’t consider myself to be very sporty. Yet, this past October, I met a personal milestone when I ran my first 10k race. So, how did a non-athlete accomplish this goal? My sisters-in-law Mandy and Jackie have kindly offered to let me tell my story via their blog, and I’d be happy to do so!
I am going to tell my story in the format of three lessons I have learned from my experience. I hope to inspire other non-runners to go out and give it a shot!
Take baby steps. (Not literally, because that could seriously affect your cadence). You have to start from somewhere. For me, I had to start from scratch. About a year ago, I downloaded an app called “Couch to 5k” to my iPhone, and I used this app to ease into running. For those who aren’t familiar with this app, it uses audio coaching to guide you through intervals of walking and running, and ever-so-slowly advances to longer running intervals. Looking back, I remember how hard it was to run for even one minute, and then two minutes felt like an eternity! But one of the wonderful things about running is that personal improvement is so measurable. Within weeks of starting, you may be running a bit longer, a bit stronger, a bit faster. Admittedly though, these do come in very little “bits” which may not seem all that significant in themselves, but stack them together over time and you won’t believe what you will be able to do.
Just do it. Yes, this is the Nike line. Yes, I did just giggle writing that (Jackie, I think like your house full of boys). But this is what I tell myself over and over again if I need motivation. I have a tendency to overthink, to second-guess, to cautiously decline. I was so hesitant to sign up for the 10k! While I tend to analyze situations, I need a completely different approach to running: I need to just get out there, just do it, without getting my head too involved. It is a wonderful thing in this hectic, crazy world to set aside some time each week to focus on just a few, simple things: breathing, pacing, and distance. I have no regrets about joining my first 10k, but I think I would have many regrets if I chose not to do it. My time was nothing to brag about, but now I have set a personal baseline for years to follow.
Focus on personal achievements. Sure, a little competition can be healthy. To be honest, though, I can discourage myself by comparing myself to others who have been doing this longer than I have or who have even an ounce of natural ability. In a few instances while I was running in the 10k race, I was so worried that I was in last place, I found myself looking behind me to see if there were any other runners trailing me. But I snapped out of it and scolded myself for doing so (I think I did this in my head, but I tend to get crazy and talk to myself when I run, so you never know). For several reasons, I vowed to myself never to look back again. First of all, it is completely counter-productive; it could slow me down or psyche me out. Secondly, how unsportsmanlike! But most importantly, running is an individual sport, and doing your personal best is what counts. So, even if I did finish last, would it matter if I had put forth my greatest effort? I would like to think not.
I am so happy that I was able to run in this race. It was the Stratford Festival City 10k, and while the weather was not perfect, the route was beautiful. The support from both the running community and the neighbourhood was very encouraging. I was proud of my sisters-in-law for their achievements and I ended up having a lot of fun. I think I’m hooked. So, if you are on the fence about running, I would strongly encourage you to tie up your laces and surprise yourself!
Jackie and Melissa arriving
I can’t believe we didn’t get a picture of the three of us together!