As I sit here and think about how and when I became a runner I realize that there wasn’t a specific day that I became a runner but more of a state of mind; a shift in how I saw myself and how others saw me as well.
I mentioned in How I Lost Weight and Kept it Off, I started incorporating jogging into my walking routine around December of 2011. By no means did I consider myself a runner at this point. I was still just trying to lose weight and this was an easy way to do it. Although I continued to walk/run for the following couple of years it wasn’t until probably mid 2013 that I actually started to feel like a runner. Running started to become more than just a way to keep the weight off, it was a stress reliever, anxiety reducer, and overall mood booster. Running started to become a part of my daily routine and something that I really enjoyed. In August of 2013 I signed up for my first half marathon. To some this seems like no big deal but to me this was a HUGE deal. I never in a million years thought I’d be able to run 2 miles much less 13.1. I was one of the least athletic kids growing up; I seriously dreaded most physical activity. I played tennis for one year in high school and that was enough for me. I remember in junior high being one of the last kids to finish the mile every month. I hated running and assumed I always would.
So there I was, signing up online and paying over $100 to run 13.1 miles…crazy, I know. Not too long after I signed up my dad brought home a Runner’s World magazine for me. He said that he found it at the store and thought I would enjoy it. Such a sweet gesture and I’m so glad he did because I loved it! I honestly think that was the moment that my mind shifted a little bit. I thought, “well I must be a runner if I enjoy reading a running magazine”. That Christmas a friend of mine bought me some running essentials, i.e. anti-chafe stick, gu, socks, etc. I realized then that other people considered me a runner as well. Me, Jen Boatright, a runner…weird! Once February rolled around and it was time for the half I felt completely confident in my abilities and ready to take on the 13.1 miles. I finished in 2:15 which was quicker than I expected and I was thrilled.
A few tips and pointers for newbies:
1. Be patient!! Increasing your mileage and speed takes time…a lot of it. BUT you will get stronger and running will become easier, I promise.
2. Start slow. Start with walking 2 miles or so and gradually incorporate running. To be honest it took me a month or so before I could run 1 mile without stopping. The last thing you want to do it hurt yourself! Slow and steady wins the race.
3. Enjoy the view. Instead of focusing on how much your legs hurt or how tired you are focus on the beauty around you! There’s a park in my neighborhood that I love to run at. It has an adorable little pond full of ducks and geese and is surrounded by trees. I’m able to get lost in the scenery which helps take my mind off the physical demands of running. I’ll only run on the treadmill if I absolutely have to.
4. Create a playlist full of fun tunes that pump you up and keep you moving. Pick songs that motivate you and are upbeat. Rock out while running, it’s fun J If you’re running at night and/or on the streets make sure you are aware of your surroundings. Don’t have your music so loud that you can’t hear what’s going on around you.
5. Take pride in the process. I recently read a quote by Maya Angelou, “All great achievements require time”. For me running a half marathon was a great achievement, one that I am very proud of. I’m proud that I continued training even when things got tough. I’m proud that I set my mind on a goal and did what I needed to in order to accomplish the goal. That pride motivates me to continue on my running journey. If running was easy we’d all be doing it.
6. Pick up a copy of Runner’s World or Women’s Running. These magazines are full of great tips and provide motivating stories.
Please feel free to contact me with any questions or additional tips for running. I’m not a pro, far from it, but I love helping others find the joy that I find in running. Trust me, if I can do it you can do it!