Hey there friends!

Today’s post comes from one of my newer blog friends, Meredith. On her blog Dare You To, she challenges her readers to try new things, take new risks, and challenge themselves. As you know, I love trying new things (especially on Tuesdays!) so it’s no wonder that I love her blog too! Prepare to be inspired bloggies, because Meredith’s got a great story to tell!

My Love-Hate Relationship with Running

Running. You either love it or you hate it.  Does it have to be either/or? Based on experience, can I dare you to reconsider?  Whether or not you’re already a runner, hear me out.  If you’re up for a challenge, self-improvement, a sense of accomplishment, then you might surprise yourself and enjoy running even more.

The Hate

Not too long ago, I sat comfortably on the “hate” side of the spectrum.  Now, I know hate is a strong word, so I don’t use it lightly; I really did loathe running.  I was an athlete growing up and enjoyed sports, however, the timed “mile” in grade school led to my hatred for running, because it was embarrassing to trail behind my classmates.  I’d occasionally resort to a run (or a walk/run) when it was my only accessible exercise, but it was never first choice, and I wasn’t alone.  For all those dedicated runners out there, there are just as many people who will often do any other form of cardio and still report a dislike for running.

The Love

It started last September.  Inspired by runners I knew, I would go outside, run a mile, maybe a mile and a half before slowing down and switching to intervals.  It actually felt nice, getting out in the fresh air, feeling the wind rush behind me, and having time to zone out with my music.  In October, I began to think about 5k races and asked myself, “Why don’t you sign up?”  “Because I can’t run three miles.”  “Why not?  Have you tried?”

No, I hadn’t tried.  With that, I started.  I didn’t follow a specific program like Couch to 5k, because I believed that I did have the cardiovascular endurance to do it.  When I saw a flyer for a local 5k under a month away, I bit the bullet and registered.  Nothing to motivate you like having a public deadline approaching!  When the big day came, my goal was most importantly to finish, but I knew I really wanted to do so in around 30 minutes, definitely below 35. That seemed reasonable for my level.

And that, it was.  On that beautiful fall day, I crushed my goal, completing the 5k course in 28 minutes 9 seconds.  Crossing that finish line, I felt like a new person; I was a runner.

The Challenge

As a new runner, I knew that the euphoria felt completing that 5k wasn’t the end, it was only the beginning.  From there, I decided that instead of racing too quickly to do 3 miles in 28:09, I should learn to pace myself so I don’t need to walk at all.  Next, I wanted to run a 5k without stopping. So, just as before, I trained, but this time I used a Garmin sportswatch to track my pace and mileage, and I also had snazzy new running shoes to protect my feet and knees.

The right sneakers help me run longer without injury

Seeing the numbers on my run helped me learn what different speeds feel like and at which I’d be able to sustain my pace for the full three miles.  I put this training to work at my second 5k, which I finished in 30:03.  This is longer than my previous time, however, I ran the entire race without slowing to a walk once!  For this reason, I was elated, so proud of myself for pushing myself to stay steady and strong through the entire race.  Still, there’s always a next step, a chance to get better.

Set your sights higher and higher

In my training today, I’ve come to enjoy my time running.  My runs are my “me time”—a time to get fresh air, a time to zone out with my music (a playlist can make or break my motivation!) or to do some quality thinking.  Sometimes, I even forget that I’m running!  During those moments, I realize that I just might love running.

Why run?

I’m a fan of many forms of cardiovascular fitness, including but not limited to Spinning, kickboxing, and good old elliptical training.  Running, however, will always be, in my mind, the most basic form of exercise.  Walking, running, and lifting things: that’s what our oldest ancestors did.  These are things we can do anywhere, any time, for free.  You can always get up and walk—walk down the street, walk around your house, walk on a treadmill. You can also walk or run when traveling or on vacation; no equipment necessary.  Further, there’s no time commitment! You don’t have to sign up for a class or register to complete 5, 10, or 20k race if you don’t want to.  Just hit the road and run until you feel like stopping.  Only have 10 minutes this morning? That’s enough time to squeeze in a mile! Running is the best anytime, anywhere workout!

Fitting in Early Morning Runs, while the Moon Still Shines!

 Challenge Yourself

Although I wouldn’t go so far as to say that I love running all the time, what I really have come to love about running is the challenge; there is always a new goal, a new way to train, a new aspect of running to work on.  In the beginning, I simply wanted to be able to run a mile, which then became three, which has now become five.  I also went from seeking to finish a 5k race to wanting to run the entire thing without recovery walks.  My focus shifted from “getting it done, any way” to learning how to pace myself and run continuously at a steady speed.  Once I accomplish these goals, I’ll begin working on my speed, trying to run faster, to set new PRs.  No matter what your focus is, there’s a way to make the challenge of running new again.  Even seasoned marathon runners are always striving to improve their run, such as a better time in their next race.  Whether you’re a running newbie or an old pro, there is always room for improvement!

Although a small part of me still hates running, I do love the feeling of challenging myself, overcoming obstacles, and getting better every day.  So get out there!  If you need tips for getting started, check out my advice here.  If you’re already running, try working your body in new ways.  Believe in yourself and push yourself to go further, faster, longer than you thought you could.  Set new goals and train to reach them.  I dare you!

Note from Angela:  WOW! Isn’t she awesome!?! Thank you SO much Meredith! What an inspiring story, not just for beginner runners, but for experienced ones too. So tell me…

Do you have a story similar to Meredith’s? Have you encountered a challenge that, at one point, you thought you wouldn’t be able to manage? Let’s inspire each other!