Running is a funny sport. It is often times used as punishment for others sports. But for some, it is used as enjoyment. For me, I chose the latter. But there have been many times throughout my career that I felt as though it was punishment.
I began running when I was in elementary school. At that point, I was too young and naive to think anything of running. Besides, I ran the 50 meter dash, and that was over before you could say “the sun shines on the shop signs” five times fast, without stuttering :). As I progressed throughout the years, I moved up in distance and eventually decided to run cross country. Cross country is an incredibly tough sport. In high school, athletes run a 5 kilometer course, or 3.1 miles over a grassy, hilly terrain of some sort. Believe me, running on grass is HARD!
I was mediocre at cross country throughout high school and college. My main focus was the track. I ran the 800 meters. For me, I liked track because there was a set start and end point I could see. It was flat. It was predictable. It was…an all out sprint. To be honest, I don’t know why I liked that event, but I thrived in it. I began as a 3 minute half miler as a freshman to a 2 minute 16 second, state medalist as a senior. Hard work pays off.
Eventually high school ended and so did college, and all that was left was 5K’s, half-marathons, marathons, etc. No more 800’s. And so the process began, converting my brain to become a long distance runner. I was successful at doing this, and have since been able to turn in 3 marathons with top 5 performances.
So how did I do this? Let’s take a look:
- Stress is a big deal in running. Don’t set yourself up to have grand expectations in any race. This can cause a lot of anxiety, erratic breathing, and disappointments.
- Go into a race with the pure joy of just being able to run.
- Enjoy the process of training. Don’t fret too much on missing specific times in workouts, or missing a workout here and there. You WILL be prepared by the time your race comes around. Have confidence in that.
- When race day comes, know that you put in all of the hard work you were able to. Use the race as a celebration of that.
Truly, everything boils down to keeping your stress level as low as possible. My first marathon I ran, I had no idea what I was doing. I went into the race with very low expectations (not saying you should do this). I expected to be walking at mile 20. Instead I ran the whole race and enjoyed every minute of it. I have had my slew of injuries, and now each time I am ABLE to run, I truly appreciate that. Never take things for granted.