Tuesday, January 03, 2012

On Being a "Runner"

      You may or may not have noticed my allusions to running.  I have been doing more of it recently, and I am actually signed up to run the Little Rock Half Marathon in early March.  It will be my second half marathon.  I did one in November 2007 in Dallas.  When I signed up to do that one, it was because we had just moved to Little Rock and my only real friend was running it and asked me to do it with her.  (What I didn't realize at the time is that this actually meant that we would be running it at the same time, not that we would be actually running together.  She is a stud runner, and I am a slow runner.)  Most of the girls in our community group are doing the half marathon or some other race that day, so I decided to jump on the running bus again and hope for the best.


      I thought I would give anyone reading this my quick running history and hope that it might encourage others out there who think that they can't run.  I distinctly remember being in 7th grade, a new girl at the school, and being asked to run a mile.  I hated every step of pounding around that track (as well as the horrible outfits we were wearing that included bright purple shorts), and I became nauseous.  I tossed my breakfast on the side of the track.  At that moment, I knew that I hated running and was not cut out to be a "runner."
      I honestly thought and felt that my body was not made for running.  I would, and sometimes still do, get extremely red-faced when I run.  To the point that people ask what is wrong with me.  It made me feel queasy, and it just felt so hard.  Plus, I am not someone who does "acquired" tastes, so why would I take the time to learn to like something that was clearly hard and unlikable?
      I am not sure exactly what changed or why.  I think I probably grew up.  John has always really enjoyed running, and though I can't really run with him, it made me realize that there might be something to it.  I ran some at the beginning of our marriage, and began to see that most of it was a mental hurdle that I was dealing with, not a physical one.
      So, when we moved to Little Rock and needed to have friends, I decided to give it a wild shot and train for a half marathon.  My goal was to get through it, and I regularly said that I would feel that I accomplished a lot if I crossed the finish line and had managed to move my body for 13 miles in a row.

Here is what I learned while training last time.
1)  Most of running is a mental battle.  (at least for me it is)  I have to constantly tell myself that I can and should do it - to just keep running.
2)  It gets easier the more you do it.  Sort of like anything else in life.  Before long, running 3 miles felt like no big deal.
3)  Having something to train for really helps me, because I have a goal.  It also means that we have put money down, and so I don't want to waste whatever cash outlay there is by being lazy.
4)  Having friends to train with (or at the same time as) makes a huge difference.  We would meet up and do our long runs together, and it was fabulous accountability.
5)  My body may not really be cut out for long distance running.  Any time I ran any distance over 7 miles, I would throw up about 20 minutes after running.  Without fail.
6)  I am a slow runner, but at least I am doing it.  I usually run between 11 and 12 minute miles.  Slowly.  Some people probably walk faster than that.  But I am doing it, and that is what counts.

I had a good half marathon experience last time and ran the whole time.  It was slow, but I kept running, which felt good.  I remember having people cheer for us all along the way - they called us "runners."  That was a strange, but sort of glorious, moment.  I may or may not have sworn half marathons off for life, due to the throwing up factor.  But, here I am again, training again.

Here is what I have learned so far this time around.
1)  Finding time to run when you have children is infinitely more difficult than it was before I had kids.  It requires much more discipline and planning, both of which will serve me well, but are hard to enforce. I have actually spent less time pinning random stuff of Pinterest before bed, because I know I will have to get up and run in the morning.  Probably a good thing.
2)  Doing it with friends is really the best way to go.  We all talk about it, and as it approaches, we will train together even more.  Having that encouragement is great.
3)  Sadly, running does not tone up my stomach.  My stomach has never been my favorite part of my body, and post two babies, that is more true than ever.  Running alone does not give me flat abs, which I find to be a major bummer.
4)  Having a husband that is super supportive and helpful is a must.  He helps me each week figure out when I will run so that he can take care of the girls.  This takes a lot of coordination, but I am so thankful for his willingness and overwhelming encouragement.  He is also running the half, but since he could practically go out and run 13 miles with no training (so annoying), I don't think it means quite the same.
5)  Listening to audiobooks on my phone keeps my mind occupied and less likely to think thoughts like, "I still hate running.  Why am I doing this again?  I don't need to run that extra half mile."
6)  I don't know yet if I will throw up during this training.  The most I have run so far is 6 miles, and I was fine.  Rest assured, I will keep you posted.

Well, if you made it through this long-winded post, congrats.  I say all of this, because I was one of those people who was NOT a "runner."  But, I gave it a real try and found out that it can be a really great release and workout.  The accomplishment feels fantastic, and it is really wonderful to have a goal and work towards it with measurable results.  So, you should try it.  You really should.  I believe with my whole heart that if I can do it, so can you.


Mike said...

where are pictures of my nieces?

feedingmypickyeaters said...

Great post. I am new to your blog but I am really enjoying it. I recently started running (if you want to call it that) again too and completed a 5k in the fall. I want to train for a half but I am scared too. I am finding my lungs, heart and muscles are reluctantly improved...it's that old mind that I have to keep convincing. You hit the nail on the head.

Kristin Murdock said...

Runners unite! Rock it, girl. And you know who to call if you ever need a buddy. :)

Anonymous said...

For someone who is just starting to try to run and where to start thanks for this post!