It’s 5:45 a.m. on Tuesday morning after only five hours of sleep following a 16-hour-day of work and grad school, but when the alarm chimes I spring out of bed in search of my Nike’s. Two years ago, I swore I wasn’t a runner but here I am today still plugging away.
As I trained for my first half marathon I told myself this would be a one-time occurrence to check off my bucket list. Today, however, I find myself reading books about barefoot running, debating the methods of stretching and contemplating a full marathon.
I am officially a runner. How did I make the switch? Dedication? Glutton for punishment? Addiction? These are a few explanations and certainly play a role, but realistically it has just become a habit. In the beginning I didn’t actually enjoy the act of running, but knew it was good for me and loved bragging about it.
Today however, in the craziness of life, running provides an escape and clarity. On a run I can tune out the noise, challenge myself and partake in some self-discovery. It’s therapy without the insurance co-pay and couch and I attend sessions frequently.
While preparing for the Nike Women’s Half Marathon on October 14th, I’ve been able to help a friend train for her first race. While I’m no seasoned professional, I can definitely provide tips for non-runners attempting a miracle – tricking your body into thinking running 13.1 miles is fun. Here are a few of the most important things to remember:
1. Sign up for a race. Whether it’s a 5k or a half marathon, having a goal to work towards helps motivate me to run regularly. Then search for a training plan to prepare for the distance. This is especially important for someone who has never run much and is preparing for a long distance. It’s important to have structure in a training plan or it is easy to get off course.
2. Enlist a friend. The buddy system is helpful in many instances and exercise is no different. Sometimes waking up early to run can be hard, but if I know I’m meeting a friend I won’t hit the snooze button. Helping my friend Margaret train for her first half has been as beneficial for me as it has been for her.
3. Listen to your body. Even the most seasoned runners will hit a wall or simply have a bad running day. On those days I have to remember not to be hard on myself, but to let my body rest. There’s always tomorrow to run again, but exercising while sick or fatigued won’t be beneficial.
For the record I never will be a barefoot runner, those five fingers shoes are funky and not my style. I’ll also never run for competitive purposes, I’m entirely too slow. Running will always be part of my life though, as long as my body permits.
When I hit the pavement at 6:00 a.m. for my morning run, I’m just thankful that in this busy chapter of my life I’m still taking time to do something that’s good for my mind and body. What is your escape from the madness?