Last summer, I decided to find out if you could force yourself to enjoy running.
I participated in a charity 5K early in the summer. I had kind of been going to the gym and running on a treadmill, but I was in no way prepared. And that totally showed when I pretty much crawled across the finish line and proceeded to throw up in the bushes.
Not my finest hour.
The night before that run, a friend casually mentioned that she hadn’t really trained, but was going to run it anyway. “It’s only 5K,” she said.
Who are these people who can run 5K without training? This is totally not me. My natural endurance sits at 0%.
But this race inspired me. Could I run 5K if I actually trained for it?
So I went for it. I signed up for another 5K run in the fall to have something to work towards. Then I downloaded a “couch to 5K” app to my phone to help me train.
As I kept up with the training, I was able to run further and further. Clearly not rocket science, but I was surprised each time I ran just a little further than the last time I went out.
And at the fall 5K run, I ran the whole thing without stopping…and didn’t even throw up! A huge improvement over the run just a few months prior. Training worked! I’m not sure why this very well-known concept surprised me, but it did.
So this year, I did another two races.
At the first one, I blew through my time goal. That felt even better than accomplishing my “don’t throw up” goal!
Then this past weekend, I ran a second race. And what made it super special was doing it with my “I’m not a runner” friend Mary. At some point in the summer, Mary hopped on a treadmill and decided to see just how long she could run for. Turns out, it was further than she thought.
And when she agreed to do a 5K with me, I was thrilled. It was SO amazing crossing the finish line together! And I think she might be hooked.
Here’s the thing with running… barring medical conditions, anyone can do it. It may be easier for some people, like my “it’s just a 5K” friend, but with training almost anyone can eventually run a 5K. For me, there are three things that make it possible: small progressions, consistency and mind games.
The “couch to 5K” app was gold for me because it works through small progressions. It starts at intervals of running for 1 minute, walking for 1 minute, and eventually gets up to running for 35 minutes straight. Each session is just a little harder than the last.
Consistency was a lesson I learned the hard way. Missing one run here or there wasn’t a huge deal. But miss two or three in a row and I’ve regressed at least two weeks.
Lastly, it’s a mental battle. Every. Single. Time. I’m not one of those people that “craves running”. I will never feel that way. I had to talk myself into putting on running shoes each and every time, and find ways to make it hard for me to bail. I would bring running clothes to work, and run before going home. Because the second I got home, I found something more fun to do there. I would find places to run with pretty views, often along the paths around Lake Ontario. The best advice came from a runner friend who would tell herself “you will never regret going for a run”. That was often the final kick I needed to put on my shoes and go.
So can you force yourself to enjoy running? I’m not sure I have. But I do enjoy “having ran”. After I run I feel strong and healthy. I feel motivated to do it again, to keep it going.
But I’m not one of those crazy winter runners. So I’m looking for some winter work-out suggestions to keep my endurance from bottoming out again. Any suggestions?