Friday, July 10, 2015

8 Things I Wish I'd Known as a New Runner

1. Speed Doesn't Matter!

When I first started, I hated that I was so slow.  When I was doing the C25K program, I hated that in the first week, my workouts barely took me 1.5 miles.  Here's what I've learned since - all runners appear to believe that they are slow.  At least all recreational runners.  The reality is that whatever your pace, you're still running and you'll likely get faster.  I did.  And when I did, it felt amazing!  PS.  I'm slower than a 12 minute mile.  :)

2. C25K Programs Aren't Accurate

In fact, they're liars if they're based on timed intervals rather than distance.  In the program I completed, the last workout was a half hour run.  At that point, my 5K time was closer to an hour than a half hour.  I felt like a failure and even now, a half hour 5K probably isn't in the cards until probably next year due to the break I had to take and the lingering effects of chemotherapy.

3. Never again is also a lie.

My first race ever was a half marathon.  I can't include what a bad idea that was in this list because I knew that going in, but it was one of those things.  A bucket list thing, even if I didn't call it that at the time.  I'm pretty sure I was still running the race when I started to say those words - "Never again."  Other words were said as well, things like, "OMG, what was I thinking!" and "I HATE RUNNING!"  and "Hey, the girls doing a shot a mile probably had the right idea."  That medal up there is the first I ever earned.  I crossed the finish line as they were dismantling it.  They were out of medals.  I hurt.  My husband had spent time finding the closest entrance to the hotel, and I think I spent my entire limp there cursing and swearing and telling him he'd found the furthest possible entrance.  I got to the hotel room and I said "Never. Again.  I don't think I'll ever run again.  I'm definitely not doing another half marathon.  What a stupid sport.  Holy crap, this ice water is cold!"

My friend's husband actually gave me his medal that night so I'd feel better until my medal arrived in the mail shortly after so I did eventually get a medal.

The next morning, I was looking up 5Ks for the next year.

4. Medals are fun

8 Things I wish I'd known as a New Runner
Calgary Marathon 10K

The only event where I had to wait for my medal, is the first race I ran.  Every other event, I've been able to get my medal as I crossed the finish line.
8 Things I wish I'd known as a New Runner
Millarville Cinnamon Bun Run
I love seeing the different medals for races and I'm a little guilty of choosing races by their medals a time or two.  It's also why I tend to run longer distances.  They're more likely to have a medal than a 5K.  

5. Hills suck, but they're good for you

Look, we're already out there sweating and red-faced.  The last thing we want to do is make this running thing harder to do.  And then they say to do hill training.  I avoided it as a beginning runner.  Mainly because I was already painfully slow and I felt that any hill I would attempt would result in me walking up a hill.
Sometimes when I'm running hills, I feel like my dog in this picture - like I've bitten off way more than I can chew.  I live in a neighborhood where hills are kind of required.  My average run has an elevation gain of 150-200 ft, depending on the route I choose.  Yes, it makes me slower on THAT run.  But hills build strength and endurance and on the flat, it seems easier to run and I get faster running where it's flat.  Running faster makes me feel better.

6. Rest is important

Rest days always make me feel a little lazy
But the reality is that we get stronger as our body repairs and rebuilds.  I probably could have avoided much of the swearing during my first half marathon had I rested when things hurt instead of trying to run through the pain and racing injured.

7. Massage is your friend.

This includes paying someone to make you want to scream in pain while they jam an elbow into that knotted muscle as well as learning to use foam rollers and various other methods of torture.  While they're painful at the time, they can do wonders for helping you stay injury free and relaxed.

8. I'd get up early to run.

Mornings are not my favorite.
But they can be absolutely peaceful and beautiful.
Calgary Marathon start line
Or full of other runners waiting to start a race on a beautiful spring day.

I find it much easier to get up and run in the morning - especially in the summer when the days get really hot.  I have more energy after I'm done and I feel like I accomplished something.
And then I can go and sit on my front porch and have a coffee on a Saturday morning and not feel like I've wasted my day.

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