Getting started with running can be extremely intimidating. I have been trying to "get started" for what feels like my entire life. Trying and trying and never having it click for me. Until recently.
I have never understood running as an enjoyable activity. Ever. I tried. I remember watching in both awe and confusion as my high school classmates would run in Cross Country meets… or when my husband heads out for a run with eagerness. Seriously? Who WANTS to run? Who WANTS to do that hard stuff?
In 2007 I decide to train for a sprint triathlon. I am honestly not even sure where the idea came from, but I figured it was a good goal to set. I was understandably nervous about it (never really been an athlete before), but I thought "I can swim, which gives me a leg up on at least some of the triathletes…" Hah. Ha ha. Hah.
I trained for the triathlon and I got up to running 2 miles without stopping. But running was still miserable (the entire time). I did participate in my first sprint triathlon and I finished. 4th from last. But I finished. And at the finish line I knew exactly where I needed to improve: the run.
So I vowed that I would run the full distance of a 5k, a 10k, and a half marathon before I did my next triathlon. I had to learn to love running.
I tried exactly that. I wrote it on my New Years Resolutions lists. I signed up for races. I printed training plans. I read blogs and books about running. But I dreaded getting out there. It hurt. My body would ache while running… my chest would burn… it was straight up miserable.
When I found Crossfit, I decided running was for the birds. Why put myself through something so miserable if I found something else that finally worked for me? Something I thought was actually fun and gave me great results.
But the need to "get it" was still in me. I was still determined to learn to love running. I wanted to be a part of the running clique! So I made a plan. I decided I'd stick with Crossfit for three months before trying to return to running. In the meantime, I knew Crossfit would help build my core strength which would help make running less miserable for me. (Check out this article about how crossfit can improve your running.)
In March I registered for the Virginia Beach Rock 'n Roll Half Marathon to give myself another running goal. Something that required I get out and run. This time, I built in accountability by committing to the race with a group of girls from my home town as well as encouraging some of my closest friends to run with me. And I booked a hotel. And then I went and won a training t-shirt just for registering. I couldn't back out after all that!
After a few months of Crossfit I started forcing myself out to the road. Each time I'd go a little farther before stopping to walk/rest. I went on a few runs with Tommy here and there and the first thing he taught me was how to breathe properly. Then he taught me how to find a resting running pace. And finally, he taught me to just keep running. Slowly but surely, running became the easy part of my Crossfit workouts. After I learned how to find a resting running pace, running became the resting part of my CF workouts. (Shhh don't tell my trainer!)
And two weeks ago it clicked. I went on a run by myself. My goal was to run two miles (of the 5 mile course) without stopping. When I reached the 2 mile mark, I decided to go for 3. Once I made it to 3, I realized that I had the physical ability to run the entire way and I was not feeling miserable. So decided to push it. And the feeling was incredible.
I did it. I CAN do it. And it doesn't have to be torture. Wow. It was truly an unreal experience for me. Years of trying, years of hating running and being miserable on the road... Everything changed in that run and I finally "got it."
And I am addicted.
Sure, I'm running slow. Sure, I only just started. But I am floored that I finally reached my goal to learn to love running.
Tommy has always said to me "You don't need a gym or workout videos or anything like that. Just go out and run." And now I get that. Whenever I am in need of something free, quick, and effective, I can just put on some tennis shoes and go out the front door. I'm really grateful to have running in my life now.
I love Crossfit and I will be a CFer for life… but running is something I am excited to now have in my back pocket.
After this half marathon coming up (two weeks away!) I have some big hairy audacious goals (BHAG) that I am a little too scared to mention here just yet. But… they involve running. And I will share when they are officially in the works.
When did running click for you? Did you have a "moment" like I did? I'd love to hear your story, please share in the comments!