Wednesday, September 18, 2013

If I Knew Then What I Know Now: My First Year as a Runner

It's beginning to look a lot like run season, every where you go! 
Take a look at your splits again, 
it's week nine and the groove is setting in...

It's beginning to look a lot like run season, 
new shoes on each pair of feet,
 but the prettiest sight to see, 
is the PR that will be, 
waiting for you at the finish line! 
(with an ice cold beer) 

ba dum cha! I'll be here all day

Half training round two week nine, and I feel AMAZING! Each run, I am frequently fantasizing about race day, as run season is amping up in the south. I'm noticing more runners out pounding the pavement in the early mornings as waiting on cooler temps is no longer an option for most, got to break up with the treadmill/ indoor tracks and get serious! All this complaining I've done about the weather lately got me thinking about this time last year. When had I started training for my first long race?

I found my first run recap, of training for my first long race, posted on September 21, 2012. The decision to train for my first 10k with my gym's Sole Sistas was absolutely life changing. That process is what started my  head over heels, passionate, love affair with running. I'm feeling nostalgic about the experience as it marks the end of my first year as a runner.

If someone had told me then, that within one year, I'd have run a half marathon, two 10k races, more 5ks than I can count, and that I'd be training for my second half marathon in less than a year, I probably would have laughed in their face. I can remember feeling like 5 miles was a mammoth distance, a distance I presently frequently run before breakfast. 

Exhibit A
The 10k was extremely intimidating for me. However, crossing that finish line at the Cajun Cup literally changed my life. I drank the long distance kool-aid and there was no turning back! 


I love to run for many reasons, mainly as it provides me with a challenge that doesn't present itself in any other aspect of life. Magic exists between the runner, the clock, and the road. It's an activity I can only accomplish for myself, others can encourage me, share the road, share the high, but no one else can do it for me. It's an experience I can try to share and do my best to articulate, however the experience is incredible intrinsic and intimate. You can't buy the feeling, it can't be taught, inherited or borrowed, you have to achieve it through hard work. The personal reward is massive, and it affects all other aspects of life, it's why runners keep on chasing it! 

Bellow are five things I would tell myself, if I knew then what I know now. These five aspects of running have nothing to do with gear, fuel, or water and everything to do with the actual run experience. Running is more a mental challenge than a physical one. I remind myself that each and every day I win the argument with the side of my brain that wants to quit. 

1. Be Patient with Yourself- Running faster takes time, and building endurance takes time. You are pace obsessed, and it will frustrate you each time you can't PR. Stop dat. You will not PR with pace every run. You won't shave off minutes per mile within three weeks or even three months, but your persistence will pay off! Have faith in the experience, and enjoy runs when the clock is not your friend. You're always going to wish you were faster. You are always going to want to be faster. Always.

2. Rest Days are Equally as Important as Run Days: You will have major problems co-existing with the rest day. However, rest days, especially before a long run and most importantly race day, will make you stronger. I often wonder if my time would have been better for the half marathon had I not worked out so hard the week before. Shoulda woulda coulda. Look out half round two!

3. Every Run Won't Feel Great: Some days will really suck. There's just no sugar coating it. It will hurt, you will want to quit, and you will ask yourself 18 million bajillion times why the hell you are doing this, but persevere! The pay off on a great day, especially on race day, will make you forget all about that slow week day run when nothing went your way. Persist!

4. Do Not Compare your Experience with Anyone else's: You won't struggle with this too much, but countless others around you will. It will be tempting to play the comparing game. Don't do it. Be selfish in your experience. Cherish it. This is your story and yours alone. Don't worry about what anyone else is doing. Who cares if so and so is faster, or slower, ran more miles, ran less miles,etc. Remember, to appreciate your own accomplishments. Support those who support you!

5. Stay Positive: A positive attitude will take you far. It will help you push the wall out of the way on the hard days, and keep you pushing when you want to quit. You can do anything you set your mind out to accomplish. It will be hard to stay positive during personal struggle, and you will doubt yourself many days. It's just a test, and you will pass. Positive Patty in the house! Girl you got that! Just keep running!


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12 comments:

  1. I needed to read this and I need to apply it to my running journey NOW! I have been running for over four years and it is still a struggle to get out the door (especially in this weather). My life has changed drastically with a new baby, so planning and timing are everything now. Your post made me remember why I started running in the first place. I love it. Plain and simple-not at first, not in 100 degree weather, but once I get into that groove the feeling is so great!

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  2. I just can't believe how far you've come in a year! I'm definitely much slower to improve...and may never because seri-uhs-ly. But I'm beginning to make peace with the fact that some people have what it takes to run fast and some people need to chill out and take the good runs as they come!

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  3. Great post!!! Are you coming up here to run the Fort 4 Fitness next weekend??? :)

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  4. My first longer run was almost a year ago as well, it was the Turkey Trot in Nola on Thanksgiving (5 miles), you are truly an inspiration and these are good things to remember. Especially about wanting to be faster. This time last year I was running almost 10 min miles for 3 miles or less - I am actually slower now! I was down about that, but this reminds me that I need to be glad I am still running no matter what speed!

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  5. Thanks for this post...that's all :)

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  6. Great post on a Day that I am feeling very discouraged all around with everything diet/exercise related :) thanks!

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  7. I LOVE this post. I JUST signed up for my first ever half-marathon today, and it's a crazy leap for me, who can barely run 2 miles right now without feeling like they might die.

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  8. Man That list of 5 things is SPOT on perfect! I am feeling all that 100%!

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  9. So true!! Plus, I'm stealing this sentence: "Be selfish in your experience." This is what it's all about when you're working out or training for a race - it's about YOUR experience!! I really need to remember this and stop the comparing game!! :) Great post!

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  10. Absolutely love this post!! Thanks for sharing...im training for my 1st have in 6 weeks and every now and then I forget its a journey and expect immediate progress. Love the blog

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  11. WOW!! A Year?? I was under the impression you were running for YEARS...I can't believe how far you have come in a year. I can't even run a mile. and have a crazy ass amount of weight to lose. I am at that rock bottom right now so this honestly gave me hope...keep at it! keep inspiring :-}

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