Fitness

National Running Day

Hi!  I’m on a roll with the posting today!  Two posts in one day- I don’t think that’s ever happened before!

I was reading Julie’s blog at http://www.pbfingers.com and saw that she wrote about her running story and how she got into it.  I figured there is no better day than today to do the same.

I actually started running pretty early (at least I think it’s early)- in seventh grade.  I don’t remember why I started running, but I think it had something to do with my lack of athletic ability compared to all my friends.  I started out slowly and with very low distances.  I had a routine, I would come home from school every day, eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and then I would go to the track near my house and run a lap, then walk three.  I may have even started out with running half a lap.  I remember coming home the first day and thinking, “why do people do this?!?! I feel awful!”, but I stuck with it.  I ran a little bit more each day and I remember the day I ran an entire mile without stopping- it was an awesome feeling!Image

That year, I ran “the mile” in the fall physical fitness test in 12 minutes and some seconds.  During the spring, I ran it in 9 minutes.  In just a few months, I had shaved considerable time off of my mile and I was so happy!

In 8th grade, I joined the spring track team since that was what everyone else was doing and was placed on a relay team (aka the people that aren’t really fast enough to run events for points).  I was actually really happy to be on the relay team because I still hated competition and people counting on me to win or catch a ball or make a goal (those things still make me nervous…so I run).

Over the summers and on my own, I continued to run…and run…and run more, but never more than 3 miles or so.

I joined the spring track team during ninth grade and to be honest, I didn’t like it.  We did a lot of sprinting and I am not a sprinter.  I never have been, and I never will be.  My legs just don’t move that quickly.  I think it’s genetic because my brother can’t sprint either, but he can run distance.  I didn’t do sprinting exactly, but ran the two mile instead.  Two miles sounds like distance, but in track, two miles means a two mile sprint.  I remember it was raining and cold and we had a track meet and I was running against two other girls- they both passed me, twice.  I was always the last one in our workouts and I complained a lot, but I still finished the season, counting down each week until it would be over.  I vowed to never put myself through that kind of torture ever again.

I was sitting in Spanish class at the end of Freshman year and two upper classmen encouraged me to go out for cross country in the fall.  Ha!  There was no way anyone would be making me run ever again.  But they talked me into it- they told me it was much more team oriented in the sense of supporting each other, but less of other people counting on one person to win.  Oh, and not much sprinting- music to my ears!  I decided to give it a go and meet the team at their annual summer pasta party.  Everyone was really nice and welcoming, so I decided to participate in their pre-season, which is two weeks at the end of August.  I told myself if I didn’t like it, I would quit before the season started.

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I went the first day in the heat of August and we ran hills, and for the first time in my running career, I wasn’t the last one.  Actually, I was able to keep up towards the front of the pack.  I had finally found my sport.  Not to say I didn’t complain, because I did…a lot, but I loved it.  The rest, they say, is history.

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I participated in three seasons of cross country and I actually did end up doing spring track again both sophomore and junior year of high school.  I guess I was more comfortable with pushing myself and being a part of a team, and it was a great way to stay in shape.  However, cross country was always my favorite and is by far, the best high school experience that I had.  I made life- long friends, learned discipline and commitment, and experienced the sense of accomplishment that can only come from running up and down a mile long hill for an hour (in the summer), or from running 7 miles.  There is no better feeling.Image

I have never been a star runner and I never will be, but I have come so far in my ability and now I run for me.  I enjoy the time to think, it’s an awesome way to see new places and it can be done anywhere.  When people tell me that they could never be a runner, I always tell them that anyone can do it.  All you need to do is start with half a lap…and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

Here I am, almost ten years (time flies!) later, and I have run 5K’s, a ten-miler, I have a half marathon on the books and I am looking into some triathlons.  [Edited to add: I must say that, although I have been running for many years, my mileage has slowly progressed and has only recently increased dramatically due to my own desire to push further, but would not be possible without Russ’ support and encouragement.  He has pushed me to run faster and further and I wouldn’t be able to do what I can without him there.  When we run together, he sets the pace and helps me keep up.  We ran the Broad Street Run together and achieved an amazing time, but it wouldn’t have been possible without him there to keep me going.  So my running has improved, and it is my own two legs and lungs that have gotten me here, but it is Russ’ encouragement that has made me believe that I (we) can do it.]

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Before the Broad Street Run

Everything is done at my own pace, but as my life has changed and I have moved on to bigger and better things over the years, running has stayed consistent.

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If you’re interested in running, I really encourage you to give it a try.  Start slow, make realistic goals, and I bet you’ll be amazed at what you can do.  There are a ton of training plans online to help you get started, like Couch to 5K.  You can be a runner, no matter what your ability level is.

Happy running!

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