“All it takes is a spark to ignite a fire.”
I can’t recall the exact date. I don’t remember how long it was the first time. But I do know that since this relationship began, it’s been one of the healthiest of my life. Before I go any further, get your mind on the right track – I’m talking about running.
Those who know me today might assume I’ve been a runner all my life. Not the case. There was a time I hated running. My high school sports team started each practice with a one-mile warm up run. And I complained the whole way. I dreaded it. I petitioned for why we shouldn’t have to run. Yep, all this fuss over one damn mile.
Fast forward to college. I was working at a local gym, occasionally hitting the elliptical to try and shed some of that famous college weight many of you may remember. Jen, my co-worker and friend (also former teammate and fellow running hater) told me she decided she was going to run a 5k. I thought to myself, “Why?” Also, “Damn, 3 miles! No way I could do that.” Yep, I let that negative voice inside my head talk me out of something before I had even given it a try.
A couple months later, Jen ran that 5k. I was so proud of her – and a little jealous. I wanted to cross the finish line too. I wanted to be proud of such an awesome accomplishment. It made me wonder, should I give this running thing a try? I’ve seen the runners at the gym. They look great. They’re hopelessly devoted to the sport. There had to be something more to it than “just running”. Also, the thought of it reignited the competitive athlete inside of me, the one I hadn’t seen in nearly 5 years. She was kind of a badass in her heyday and I wanted her back. But that negative voice was still there, telling me I couldn’t do it.
Then the best thing that could have happened did: Jen asked if I’d ever want to run a race with her, and train together. The thought of having someone there with me made think I maybe could do it. So we made a commitment, one of “Go Big or Go Home” caliber: To run a half marathon in May of 2007. That was the spark.
One thing I didn’t expect was the lifestyle change that came with training. Instead of going out on Friday nights, I stayed in and went to be early so I could be there for Jen Saturday mornings, and be at my best for me. We slowly worked up our mileage each weekend. We hit the treadmill and cross-trained on our own during the week, always knowing we had to report to each other on Saturdays. No way in hell was I going to be “the weak one” so it kept me motivated to stick to the weekly workouts. When May rolled around, Jen and I lined up with all the runners (neither of us felt like a real “runner” yet) and ran the entire half marathon. Crossed the finish line. Holy shit, was that a trip.
After that, I could have easily quit running. I completed my goal, after all. But I didn’t quit. I wanted to keep at it. I wanted to get better, faster. In those months of training, I had formed a relationship with running. I lost several pounds. I got stronger. I was healthier, both mentally and physically. I felt closer to that athlete inside me. Running just made me feel good. It changed my life, it saved my life.
Like any relationship, we’ve had our ups and downs. There have been some love/hate moments. It hasn’t gotten easier over the years; we have to work at it nearly every day. And, I admit, some days I just don’t want to. But running has given me so much, I oddly feel like I owe it the same. Or maybe it’s that I realize running is one of those things where, the more effort you give to it, the more rewards you get back from it.
I’d love to hear about how you found your way into running – or walking, swimming, weight lifting, fitness in general. Tweet me @runlikeagirl311.
id love for you to follow my running journey run100run.wordpress.com
What a great story.
I like going to the gym and working out, and like you, I have always thought to myself, “Running? Not in this life time.” But my wife started running, so I picked it up just a couple months ago. It’s HARD … but I think I’m finally starting to see the draw. Or perhaps its the fact that we’ve now done 2 5Ks…and I live going to event things. (I bike a lot and love going to cycling events races/rides.)
And this past month I started to swim again … slow going there too … but like running, I’m starting to get into it too.
Next stop … a Tri?
Anyway, perhaps one day I’ll be able to do a half-marathon like you … we’ll see. So far a 5K pretty much kicks my butt! 🙂
Thank you for reading and commenting! Great to hear about your fitness journey. Stick with running and a half marathon is NOT out of your reach!
Sounds like a tri is definitely in your future!! Do it, you’ll love it – they’re not easy, definitely a challenge, but they’re a lot of fun. Just remember: Brick Workouts are your friend 🙂
Ohh … based on the “Brick Workout” comment, I am guessing that you yourself have done a Tri! Hints totally welcomed. 🙂
As for the half marathon … we shall see … I ran today … 3 miles …. ohhhhh my legs are tired.
I just got into triathlons about 2 years ago. If you’re able to swim in open water prior to the race, DO IT. That was the toughest part for me – all my lap swimming technique just went right out the window ha ha!