I have had one of my best weeks ever. Ever. Better than when I graduated high school, college, and graduate school combined. Better than when I got my first big girl job and better than when I got promoted at said big girl job. Probably even better than finally moving out on my own. Why was this week so epic?
I completed three hard-for-me runs this week. The first run I completed in three attempts, with the successful attempt being this week. The second and third runs I completed in one attempt each. And the third run I did alone without Sara physically there to motivate me.
But she did motivate me in spirit.
Some of you know that I am using the couch to 5k program, which I absolutely love. There is something so satisfying about seeing “Complete” and a big green check mark when you’ve finished one of the runs.
Especially when you’ve struggled and worked so hard to get to where you are.
There are a few things I credit to my recent success after hitting an unsuccessful streak for a few weeks.
1. Running with a partner again. When I first started running and doing the couch to 5k program, I ran every run with Sara. She pushed me through running 30 seconds, to 60 seconds, to 90 seconds. So when she asked me to join her in a run on Monday, I didn’t even hesitate. Knowing I was meeting Sara or that her running that day might slightly depend on if I ran pushed me to get up and go.
That text is from the day I completed run 5.3 on the third try, the day Sara and I returned to running together, and the day I took my runs back…
2. Outside. I joined a gym around February because the weather was starting to get really nasty and I wanted to incorporate weights. Even though I started my running adventure outside in January for some reason I felt I no longer wanted to run outside. I think it was because my work travel was getting really heavy and Sara and I were no longer to meet up regularly. I was hesitant to run outside by myself because I could only run in the evenings and it got way too dark way too early. The canal we run along has been known to not always be completely safe. And add in the freezing cold weather meant motivating myself to run alone outside was impossible. So I took my runs indoors. And at first I really liked it. I liked being able to see my numbers on the treadmill and keep a steady pace. And I liked doing weights before or after if I was feeling especially energized that day. But then it got really boring and I noticed I was giving up way too quickly. When I returned to the great outdoors it re-energized me and made me excited again to run. Running outside means you can use landmarks to motivate you: “get to the bridge… get to the telephone pole… get to the bench.” It means you get to hear the sounds of nature and see other healthy people running, walking, and biking. Running outside is definitely energizing. It also meant I didn’t have the numbers on the treadmill telling me how fast or slow I was going which taught me that…
3. Speed doesn’t matter. I love Emily’s post about being a runner. In it she discusses the misconception that to be a runner you have to run a marathon. Running a marathon has never been a goal of mine. When I started this adventure my goal was to run a 5k. And it is still my goal. Emily’s post and returning to the great outdoors made me realize a misconception I had been living by. That to be a runner you have to run at a certain speed. I blame the treadmill. I would warm-up at speed 3.3. Run at 5 until I felt I was going to die and then I’d turn it down to 4.8. I forced myself to stay at that pace believing it was the pace I should be at. I believe that was the reason I struggled through so many runs and why it took me three attempts to complete a few of them. When I’m outside I don’t have a treadmill to tell me how fast or slow I am going. On our first run together again, Sara slowed us down and I was able to finish. On the second run, Sara started us at the pace she slowed us down to previously and I felt great. Yesterday when I ran alone, I kept up that pace and didn’t look at the program once to see how much longer I had to go. Running at the slow pace that is comfortable for me has allowed me to be successful and complete my runs feeling amazing about myself. Although returning outside has ruined my…
4. Shoes. Shoes matter. I bought myself proper running shoes from a running store where I was fitted and the sales person patiently brought shoe after shoe after shoe out and asked me specific questions about fit after I tried each one on. The first pair I bought gave me blisters on my inner heels and after a bit of Googling where I learned this is not normal, I took my shoes back to the store. I had only worn them once inside on the treadmill and I figured that a store devoted to running would be more inclined to take them back and help you find a better shoe than a generic box sports store like Dicks would be. I was right. Another sales person analyzed my feet again and looked at the blisters and determined I was actually in a size too small for me. She brought shoes out and we found a better pair for me. They have made all the difference. My feet feel fantastic during the run, my shins aren’t absorbing the shock, and my knees don’t hurt. If you’re in the Doodlehem area, definitely stop by Aardvark.
So that’s it. The keys to my personal success. Tell me, what has made you successful in running? Did you have any realization moments like I did?
P.S. My race is next week! Please take a moment to donate. It’s more motivating than people realize!