How I fell in love with running.
And what I have learned along the way.
Let me first start with my personal history of running.
I started running on a regular basis when I turned thirty. I don’t have any experience with running in a competitive field. I didn’t do cross country in high school. Yet I have always had a love of running. Growing up, I thought of myself as faster than average, as many young boys do. I couldn’t be touched in freeze tag or capture the flag and was quick around the bases. My speed was a part of my identity.
It was eye-opening for me.
It wasn’t until around fourth grade that I realized that I was not fast, or at least not any faster than average. It was during a field day at school. I was homeschooled, but we would get together with other homeschoolers for special activities, like field day. One of the activities was a foot race. I couldn’t wait. I stepped up to the line, ready to lay down the speed and leave the other homeschoolers in my dust. It was a group of probably ten or twelve boys. Not much competition in my eyes.
Suffice it to say I did not win first place that day. I didn’t get second or third. I came in fourth out of a field of ten boys. It was eye-opening for me. Even though it was just a low-stakes foot race on homeschool field day, it changed my perception of myself. I realized that my perception of myself didn’t accurately match my reality. I wasn’t faster than the average boy. I wasn’t going to be winning any track meets or have any kind of career in athletics.
I didn’t rekindle my love of running until I was in my thirties. I had been very infrequently running for a couple of years prior. Nothing consistent. Maybe once or twice a month, sometimes a bit more, but mostly less. I had dabbled enough to where I started to become interested in running a marathon. The dedication to training and the challenge of pushing my boundaries interested me. It was a big jump to go from not running regularly to training for a marathon. It was also exciting and allowed me to incorporate exercise in a way that gave it a greater purpose. I entered to run in the Chicago marathon, and I would be running for charity. I raised money for Smile Train, an organization that provides cleft surgery for those in need. Being part of a marathon with so many other runners was inspiring. I was hooked.
Since then, I have run five marathons. For my first marathon, I finished with a time of 4hrs 50mins. In my last marathon, I finished with a time of 3hrs 25mins. My current goal is to qualify for the Boston Marathon. Which for me means running a marathon in under 3hrs. I will be running a marathon in April of 2023 and attempting to achieve that time. It is an attainable and realistic goal. And setting personal goals is one of the things that keeps me excited and focused on training. I believe that if you are going to do something, you should do it to the best of your ability.
Here are a few things I have learned during my time as a runner.
The reward is in the activity.
This is a big one and something that can take a while to learn. Even though it can be very beneficial to work towards and reach your goals. In your daily runs, it can fall short of keeping you motivated. When you enjoy the process of running on a regular basis, it is a much more sustainable and rewarding experience. You can think of running as the reward rather than something you must do to attain the reward. Rather than thinking about your daily runs as a means to attain a goal, like hitting a new PR or losing weight, appreciate the run in the immediate.
Progress is incremental.
Making progress takes time and consistency. It can be hard to see the progression from day to day. But when you look at your progress in weeks or months, you see that progression. The longer you stay committed to running, the more progress you will make.
Habit is a superpower.
My secret weapon for staying consistent with running is forming a well-crafted routine that makes running an essential part of my daily life. For me running is a mood booster. When I incorporate running into my daily routine, I feel happier, less anxious, and overall more fulfilled with life. This is essential for my well-being and helps me perform my responsibilities to a higher degree.
Pain is a necessary part of the process.
Running is not normally painful, but pushing your body to a different level than what it is used to can be a painful experience. And in my experience, the last few miles of a marathon can be painful. That pain shows us that we are pushing our boundaries. It allows us to know what our threshold is. How much we can push before we have to ease off a little. It allows us to grow both mentally and physically.
Thank you for reading!
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