Question for you all, can you be allergic to running?!?! I’m kidding of course but if you could be, I would definitely be suffering from the running allergy because wow is it an unpleasant experience for me! No matter how much I talk myself up about getting out there and getting miles under my belt, I have had a lot of trouble staying consistent over the years with an actual running regimen because well running for me is just plain hard. These days though, since we have found ourselves spending a lot more time at home I have desperately been looking for any reason to get outside the four walls of my house which has led me to really recommitting to achieving some of my long-standing running goals. In fact, if I had to search for a silver lining to living through this whole pandemic it would be that I am finding myself spending A LOT more time outside enjoying all the beauty that mother natures has to offer so I figure there’s no time like the present to give becoming a runner the ole college try again.
As painful as I find it, running isn’t a completely miserable experience for me. I do love getting the fresh air and the much-needed Vitamin D. I love about 30 minutes into the run when that runners’ high kicks in and I especially love when I finish the run and I can give myself a pat on the back for at least having tried. It is the part in the middle though that I struggle with, the actual running part. Running is painful for me. Not like my legs hurt or I am actually in pain the whole time or anything alarming like that, but if I had to describe what the overall experience of running feels like to be it would defnitley be summed up in that one word, uncomfortable. That being said, I still so badly want to become a “runner”. You know, one of those people who can run for miles and miles and miles and make it look effortless all the while barely breathing heavily or breaking a sweat. That is definitely not me right now nor has it ever been to be honest. I feel like I look like a baby elephant lumbering down the street, most of the time gasping for air, having no form at all and just praying for it to be over as quickly as possible.
The extremely competitive part of my personality though refuses to let running beat me so I have decided that my goal for the month of June is to complete my first 10k race! I have run plenty of 5k’s over the years. I’ve never won any, or even come anywhere close, but I can always complete them and feel a great sense of accomplishment after I do. With the 5k’s, I just generally went out an ran the 3.1-mile distance a few times leading up to the race so I knew I could do it and that was pretty much how I approached training. There was no real planning, no actual training, no consistency whatsoever. It’s actually a minor miracle I never got injured! Knock on wood!! With this 10k though, I am really looking to use the training leading up to it and the actual race as a jumping off point for future longer-lasting success in running so I know I need to do it right. But what does right mean? Well, for starters, it would probably be a good idea to:
Make the commitment now!
I feel like most people, myself included, tend to stay on track and put more effort into a task when there is a clear deadline involved. That being said, I think a really important step toward reaching this particular goal is to sign myself up for the actual 10k race I plan on running right now and then work my little butt off to get myself ready for it. Given the times we are living in most if not all the races this season have either been cancelled or converted to a virtual format so I have already started searching for the perfect 10k virtual race to sign myself up for to give myself that deadline and something to look forward to.
I decided to try virtual racing last month after all my actual races were cancelled for the year. I was super bummed about the cancellations but had heard about virtual racing before so I jumped online and found out as much as I could about them and decided to sign up for one figuring it would be the next best thing. I was a little hesitant to give virtual racing a try because part of me just didn’t think it would be anything special, more just like going out for a normal run on any given day, but I figured I would give it a shot as what did I really have to lose?! It turned out to be a really fun experience and even though I was running against myself, by myself it still felt like a race day and my competitive streak definitely came out in full force to get a good time to submit to the race site.
Another really great part of the experience was I was able to sign up for a race benefiting a cause I feel really passionate about which is helping animals. I chose to sign up for a race that supported a charity called the Puppy Rescue Mission. This charity aids our troops who are overseas bring back puppies and dogs they find on the streets while they are serving. The charity enables the troops to get these animals back here to America so they can be adopted and have much better lives. I am a sucker for anything to do with saving animals and dogs in particular so this was not only a really fun running experience but also a really great way to contribute in some small way to a cause I feel so strongly about…as a bonus I also got a super cute medal! See some pics below from that race:
Follow an actual running/training plan!
Seems like a smart idea, huh? I am not sure why it took me so long to think of this one, but better late than never! One of the best decisions I made several years ago was to sign up for the at-home workouts I have been doing ever since primarily because they took the guesswork out of when, what and how much to workout. I show up, press play, and the rest is done for me in terms of how to structure a workout program. So many of my previous attempts to get fit failed I believe because I had no plan or structure when it came to working out so I over-trained in some ways and way undertrained in others. Ultimately this lack of structure led to not only injury but inevitable failure because I was just spinning my wheels and not seeing any results.
So in thinking about what I needed to do to be successful in achieving my running goals, it seemed logical that the same thing that brought me success in one part of my fitness life would bring me success in this one as well. I started doing some research about how to properly train for a 10k in terms of how many days per week to actually run, how long those runs should be and the types of workouts to do on my days off from running. I am following a 6-week training plan now, and I have already gotten slightly faster and feel like I am in better cardiovascular shape. Following an actual plan is important for a variety of reasons, such as:
- Provides structure and routine
- Helps to prevents Injury
- Enables you to track your progression more meaningfully
- Allows you to become a better all-around runner by forcing you to work on things you might normally skip (like speed work or those dreaded hill workouts)
- Helps to hold your interest by providing a variety of workouts throughout the week instead of just going out and running the same mileage and routes over and over again
Keep my head in the game!
And last but not least, actually possibly most importantly, I need to get my mind right! As I mentioned above, running really does not come easily for me. I love the idea of running but when it comes to the actual execution of it, I struggle. I have been really putting a lot of thought into what I can change, what I can improve upon, how I can make it a more enjoyable experience for myself because I know in order to keep at it, I have to learn to enjoy it even just a little bit. After having done all the physical things I can do to help , like getting the right shoes, making sure I am following a training plan, doing all the appropriate stretching and even working on how I fuel up for my runs and recover after them, I am left with needing to work on the mental aspect of it all because I think that’s my weak spot right now. I have heard plenty of people say how much of a mental sport running is and I am really starting to understand that in order to be a successful runner you have to really be in control of your mind. I think the saying actually goes that running is a whopping 90% mental which means the body is just basically along for the ride.
At this point in my own running journey, I am pretty sure I am physically capable of achieving longer and faster runs, what I waiver on is if I am mentally tough enough to do it. I have been realizing that when I hit that point in my runs that I start to think I can’t go much longer it is not my body giving up on me, but my mind. I start to let doubt creep in because I am out of my comfort zone with longer and longer mileage and I have been quitting on myself quite a bit sooner than my body is actually needing me to. I have to learn to trust my body more because it has not once let me down since I started on this health and fitness journey two years ago. So what specifically do I think I can improve on, well a few things, like:
- Being aware that I have the ability to direct my thoughts – If you believe you can, you are right. If you believe you can’t, you are right. I again need to trust in my body and know it is more capable than I even realize. When the run starts to get uncomfortable and then moves into downright hard, I need to work on training my brain to re-direct my thoughts to more positive emotions like being proud that I am out there even doing it in the first place and knowing that I am able to continue running because I am both mentally and physically strong. Probably adding to my running playlist will help also…. focusing on good tunes always gives me an extra boost during my workouts! Running playlist suggestions welcome!!
- Changing my definition of possible – Two years ago I never would have thought I would be setting my sites on running a 10k. Now not only do I know I can do it, I am actually planning on doing it! Having achieved so many of my other fitness goals over the past few years I know I am capable of doing hard things. I just have to trust my body to carry me through and continue to tell myself I got this. This is such a great lesson to apply not only to running but also to life in general. The first step toward achieving any goal is to believe you are capable, followed closely by the next step which is to….
- Visualize myself achieving my goals – Visualization is a powerful tool that I don’t think I utilize enough. I have started seeing myself completing the workout programs I commit to before I even start them because I trust in the process after having had such great success with the first one I completed, LIIFT4. I hadn’t been applying this technique to running up until now but I think it could be a great tool to employ. Having competed many 5ks I know I am capable of achieving at least one of the goals I set for myself in running, so I just need to visualize completing even harder ones. Now that i have a goal in mind and a time frame I would like to achieve it by, I have started seeing myself crossing that virtual finish line and I am even looking beyond this upcoming race to the next goal I may try to achieve…a half marathon!
Running is hard no matter how you slice it, but I think with a better more structured approach and the right mental attitude it is something I believe I can at least become better at. Having said that I want to take a second to acknowledge all the actual runners out there who can have completed half and full marathons because that is truly an amazing accomplishment and one that I have a sincere appreciation for. While I don’t know that I will ever rise to such levels, I know I can accomplish this 10k goal and heck maybe I will even surprise myself and one day join the illustrious ranks of all of you badass runners out there who have completed even longer and harder races. But for now, I have my sights squarely set on earning that 10k medal! Follow up post to come when I actually complete the race which I am hoping will be in a few weeks time. Fingers crossed and everyone stay happy, healthy and committed to reaching whatever goals you are working towards right now…I would love to hear them btw so drop me a line anytime! 😊