Tuesday, 23 April 2013

A Quick Hello and a Dose of Motivation

Before we get started and before I start raving about running (and repeating, hopefully) I feel that I should let you all in on a little secret. 

My name is Elise and I’m a beginner. 

Yes, that’s right, you heard it here first; I’ve only been running for four months. I have dabbled with the sport previously, sporadically lacing up my trainers over the past few years and dragging my legs along for a twenty minute jog every few months, but that’s as far as it got. I’ve always had high hopes for me and running though, a whimsical notion that it’s something I could really commit to, but I’ve just never had the patience to test our relationship until now. 

I heard a few things that spurred me on, mostly in the form of cliched catchphrases, the first of which was “you don’t get better at running by not running”. It’s simple, patronisingly obvious, yet something that we all too often forget nonetheless. I have always known, on some level, that I could run a long distance someday - a half marathon, a full marathon, hell maybe even an ultra. It clicked a few months ago that I was the only one who knew this though, and nobody else would take my blind faith in myself and call it an achievement. As we all know though, actions speak louder than words (and thoughts too) so I got active. 

The second, equally cheesy, motivational line was delivered via a picture on my Tumblr dashboard. “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone”. Again, so very true, because as my father likes to tell me on an almost daily basis, “if you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always got.” 

So, that was that. I had to start running, so I did. I stopped making excuses and started making time to run instead. At first, it was painful, mentally as much as physically. It took every ounce of willpower I had to push myself through even fifteen minutes without stopping, and I felt stupid and slow every single minute. I wondered if there was any point to running a single mile, if it was worth getting out of bed for, getting sweaty for. I kept on repeating my mantra though: you don’t get better at running without running. 

That was in January. On March 24th I ran my first race, the Gothenburg 10k. Before that day, my longest runs had been two 50 minute goes and one hour long attempt the week before. My only real hopes were to finish without walking, but secretly I was aiming for 10 minute miles, which would mean a finish time of just 01:02:00. I set off blindly, without even a digital watch to check my progress as I went round. My finish time was 59:02, 9:30 min/mile. I was ecstatic. 

In four months I’ve gone from barely being able run a mile to putting in an easy 7 on my long run Sundays, which I’ll be pushing up to 8 miles this week. I have another 10k in May, during which I really hope I’m able to push my time down to a 9 min/mile pace in order to maybe be able to get a sub 2 hour half marathon in October. I’m aware that this is perhaps a little ambitious but, to quote Captain Sensible, “if you don’t have a dream, how you gonna have a dream come true?” 

My advice for anybody starting out on their running adventure is to find and pay for a race early on. 5k, 10k, a half marathon - it doesn’t matter. I actually signed up for my half marathon in October first and used the 10k as a useful motivation for training. Next, tell everybody you know about your upcoming event. If the motivation not to lose your entry fee doesn’t spur you on, then hopefully the prying questions or doubts of your friends and family will. Furthermore, at the end of most events you receive a medal and/or t shirt. If your running self isn’t motivated, at least your inner collector will be. 

Whilst my running career may still be in its very early days, it’s safe to say I’ve caught the bug. I’m writing this blog to share my enthusiasm and experiences along the way. Welcome onboard and I'll see you at the finish line.