When I went to draft this post, I found one that I had drafted two years ago before my very first half marathon. I wrote in that post about how far I had come then, and re-reading it, two years later, I realize how much farther I have come since.
Since I graduated college, I have run three half marathons (Rochester, New York and Brooklyn) and I will be running at least two more this year. I also entered my name for the lottery for the NYC Marathon in November, something I never would have imagined being a possibility even six months ago.
Until college, I never really ran. I grew up watching my dad run 5- and 10k’s, but struggled to run more than a mile at a time. When I got to college, I started running to deal with stress, but running on the treadmill grew tiresome and I eventually found different ways to deal with stress and anxiety.
Over the summers without a gym membership I would sometimes do short (and very slow) 2-3 mile runs in order to stay in shape, but once I went back to school my workouts were always about building strength. I dabbled in HIIT workouts a little bit, but they’re not my favorite.
Why I Started
I did not take a serious interest in running until after I graduated, and I think it was a combination of factors that led me to feel crazy enough to start racing. The first was a lack of a gym membership. When I first started working in New York, I stayed in New Jersey with my college roommate and her parents. After work I would come home and do a 30-minute jog to relieve stress and get my heart rate up. Over the few weeks I was there, I ran just about every day, and I felt myself getting stronger, my endurance improving.
On top of that, I was working part-time at Athleta, constantly surrounded by athletic women and was exposed to every kind of physical activity under the sun. Plus, I got a baller discount on running gear. And isn’t owning the gear the first step??
How I Started
Eventually, I committed to running one day a week, with an imaginary goal of someday running a half marathon. At that point, two miles was a stretch for me, so the goal was a moonshot, but it did give me something to work towards. Each Saturday, I would run one mile more than the week before. Two miles became 3, which became 4…
In the spring, a friend of mine (Hi Caroline!) decided she wanted all of her friends to run a 10k with her for her birthday (she was turning 25, maybe that’s what you do when you turn 25?? I’ll let you know…) which gave me tangible training goal, and a firm deadline for my training.
The race went fine – it was on a 90-degree day in June and I had spent the summer Friday beforehand day drinking with my coworkers (sorry) but I LOVED the competition. People cheering all along the course plus being able to pass people fueled the competitive asshole inside me. Within a week I had signed up to run a half marathon.
Fast forward a year and a half (?!) I (try to) do a long run (at least 5 miles for me) every weekend, and I’m in a lottery to run a marathon. For me, running has become something to look forward to and is a kind of meditation. After about three miles, moving my legs comes naturally and I have time to just relax, which sounds weird. I have a busy mind, so the more I can engage my entire body, the more relaxed I feel.
A few more things I genuinely enjoy about running: the attire (I’m sorry, it’s true. And I’m an Athleta gal through and through), racing with friends, running along lakes, rivers reservoirs…any body of water, really, and most important, post-race brunch.
I’m not fast by any measure, and I definitely don’t train as much as I should, and definitely not as much as an elite runner, but what I do is enough for me right now, and I definitely love every part of it, despite having setbacks. Race training isn’t linear. There are weeks when I skip, days when I fight through every step, weeks in a row when I can’t reach my goal. When I first started increasing my distances, I ran 8 miles for like 4 weeks in a row because I could not get my body to do more.
It takes a lot of mental toughness too, which does not come naturally to me. It helps being competitive, since my biggest competitor is myself, but it’s sometimes too easy to justify walking, cutting a run short, or skipping a run altogether. The worst is when my last run felt like magic, each mile faster than the last, and I’m struggling slowly on mile two.
I’m proud of everything I’ve accomplished and all of the goals I’ve met since I started running. And I’m excited to keep running. I have goals for times I want to beat and places I want to run, and as long as my body lets me I plan to keep going.
Also when you’re training you get to eat a lot, which is a HUGE plus.