How I Came To Love Running

I’m not a runner.  I hate running.

That used to be my stance on the sport.  I detested running and pulled out every excuse to find ways around it when it was required for team sports.

I blamed bad knees (which I genuinely had) and exercise induced asthma.  When team runs were required, I was always the one huffing and puffing at the back of the pack and trying my best to keep up.  I could run one mile at a 9 minute pace, but after that I didn’t want to have anything to do with running.  I was ready to quit.  I was constantly suffering from patellar tendonitis and IT band syndrome.  Rather than run, I’d get my cardio in by erging or biking, but it wasn’t really enough to improve my athleticism.

I always figured running just wasn’t for me.  I had thick, heavy thighs and weak knees.  I would gasp and cough after every run.  What I didn’t realize was that I was never going at MY own pace and that was the number one reason I was suffering.

Running is a sport that you can’t rush until you and your body are ready.

Inevitably, you will be out of breath, panting, cramping and in pain if you try to go at a pace that is not your own.  I learned this when I began training for my first 5k in December of 2010.

I had signed up for the 5K because I needed another push to get me through my wedding weight loss goals.  I had noticed a few friends signing up for the short races and thought it might be something I could do.  I had been working out steadily for some time, but per usual was avoiding the treadmill like the plague.

In my efforts I came across the Couch to 5K program and began my own modified version of it.  Since I was already in fairly decent aerobic shape (through biking and erg work), I decided to push myself a little bit harder and go a little longer on the days that I felt I could.

I still remember the feeling of being able to go for 5 minutes, then 10, then 20, and so on.  It wasn’t until the week before the 5K that I was able to finish the full distance without a walk break, but I did it.  I was so confident and proud of myself.  I had never run anything further than the distance before and it was a huge accomplishment.  I finished my first race at around 34 minutes and made it the entire way through without stopping.  It was at that point that I realized I was capable of more than I gave myself credit for.

I had hoped to continue the trend and planned to keep at it, but I didn’t.  It wasn’t until this past year that I decided to hop back into it.  I started off with intervals of sprinting/walking, but I made the mistake of doing too much too soon.  I was already doing P90X and the plyo-X workout is tough on your body in itself and when you add running with 30 lbs of extra weight to it you set yourself up for injury.

I developed anterior shin splints and they were the worse. I had never in my life experienced this type of injury.  I knew part of it was because I was wearing the wrong sneakers for my overweight frame so I made the decision to invest in a new pair with added support. I also knew that over training was to blame so I slowed things down and took it easy.  The pain soon subsided and my mileage increased.

With every run I felt stronger and more confident in my abilities as a runner.  In June the experience drove me to sign up for my first marathon and I began training for it in July.  The first training runs were tough, but with every passing week I learned that most of my limitations were mental and that if I didn’t go too crazy I could go further distances without getting hurt.

Running has become a routine that I now crave.  On my rest days I miss it and wish I didn’t need the break.  Training for this marathon has taught me so much about what I am capable of.  The biggest surprise is that I’ve learned that I am capable of so much more than I can imagine.

Never would I have thought I could complete a 10k, or a half marathon, or a 20 mile run, but I did it.  I’ve learned that I am a runner.  I just needed to find MY pace.  It may be slow now, but I will keep working towards PRs and getting faster.

I love running because it reminds me that my biggest obstacle is my own mind.

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