I’m not a runner. I have always told myself that. I did gymnastics from age 4 until 15. As a gymnast, we never did long distance running. I was pretty good at sprinting, but when it came to running a mile at school, I thought I was going to die.
In second-grade, my P.E. teacher made us run a mile for time, and I remember thinking “I’m going to die, I’m going to die,” for the entire ten minute mile. No one ever told me that I couldn’t run long distances, I just figured that since I struggled with it that I wasn’t good at it.
My body wasn’t trained for long distances. Gymnastics focuses mainly on short bursts of effort. So, obviously I wasn’t going to be good at long distances, I never practiced running long distances. I didn’t know that. I assumed that since I trained 6 times a week for gymnastics that my training would make me good at all types of exercise. WRONG.
So as I got older, every time someone said they enjoyed running, I would instantly say, “I’m not a runner. I don’t run long distances, that’s not for me.”
Last year in September, a friend encouraged me to run a half marathon with her. I told her, “No way. You’re crazy.” The more I thought about it, though, the more I realized I had never really given running a chance. I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it. So here are a few things I did to overcome my fear of running.
Talk to others
I knew lots of people who had run half marathons. Most people found a training schedule online. I asked a lot of people which websites to look at, and I picked one that looked good for me. I had four months to train for the half-marathon. One of my coworkers did an iron man in the past (swim, biking, then run 26.2 miles). He knows a lot about training, so at lunch one day I picked his brain. He had so many good tips and told me about some good trails I would enjoy and explained about staying well-hydrated during runs. I took all the information I learned from others and I applied it. I also printed out the training regimen and put it on my desk so that I could see what I needed to do each day.
Get a training partner
It’s always good to have a friend that will keep you on track. One of my close friends would run with me once a week. She consistently texted me and asked me how I was doing. Many times I felt discouraged, but she encouraged me to keep pushing. It was always fun to run with her on the weekends because I knew she waiting for me at the park. She was also faster than me so it pushed me to run at a faster pace. Find a partner and ask them to keep you accountable and meet them to run or workout with you. Encourage one another.
Stay on track
I love checking stuff off on my daily planner. I planned out which days I would run during the week and how many miles a day I needed to run. Every time I came back home, I would write down how many miles I did and how long it took me. I also loved putting a big fat check mark next to the run after I completed it. It made me feel like I accomplished something. Of course, there were weeks where I didn’t want to do it, and frankly I was over it. But then I remembered why I was doing this in the first place.
I had a goal. My goal was to run a half marathon. I had told myself for years that I couldn’t do something before even trying it. But I could do it with some proper training.
Nobody wakes up the day of a half marathon and decides, oh hey, let me run a half marathon (unless they’re some type of olympic athlete). Most things in life require practice. You can’t say you’re not good at something if you’ve never tried to do it or trained for it.
With some practice and some confidence I showed up to that race, ready to conquer it. I completed my first half marathon in 2 hours and 3 minutes. It was so rewarding, as I crossed that finish line tears fell down my cheeks. I was so excited that I was able to finish the half marathon and prove to myself that I WAS a long distance runner.
Ask the right people for guidance, have someone keep you accountable for your training, and stay on track. Go conquer that race you’ve been wanting to run, or that group class you want try, or that gym you want to go to. Try it out!