Saturday, October 9, 2010

How I motivate myself to go running...

I have received several comments on facebook about my foray into racing, all positive, encouraging, and often telling me that I'm a little inspiring to those who want to get into the race circuit. Now I hesitate to write this, because I don't think I'm a perfect example of anything and "inspiring" is a scary word. However, I did want to do a post on how I went from a couch potato to a 5k racer and beyond. (Well I'm working on the beyond.)

The people that have been complimenting me on my progress have been saying such things because they know me. I have a pretty lazy streak. Growing up, I detested anything that involved physical labor, and although I played tennis, marched in the band, and danced; I never was much of an exerciser. Watching TV was way more fun. But here's the catch. Even though I wasn't a "runner" per say and when I went "running" I spent more time gasping and trotting up Beaver Ridge than anything, I always wanted to BE a runner. I just never thought I had it in me. The fastest I ran a mile was junior year while playing tennis. I ran a 9:45 for gym and ended up being the second fastest girl in the class. I was really proud of that, but to be honest- that mile seemed torturously long. Distance running was not my thing. 

This all changed after reading an article in a magazine one day. It talked about how women always look at athletes and think, "Why can't I be like that?" Then instead of being inspired to try, they end up getting down on themselves and giving up. The article challenged me to think "Why NOT me?" instead of "Why can't I?" the next time I found myself in that situation, and they were absolutely right. Why not me? Why should she be able to run a marathon and I can't? I'm in good health. I have two strong legs just itching for some training. I WANT to run, so what am I waiting for? That was the beginning of something magical, but it took me a while to get there. Key point though- I never quit on myself. I might be 80 when I run my half marathon, but I won't quit. 

In college, I tried to get more into exercise, but I avoided the gym and dabbled with running as a way to soothe my anxiety/panic disorder. My runs were sporadic but nice even if there was no goal attached. When Robert moved to Williamsburg for a summer internship, we exercised a lot together; and I think marrying him has been a big step in getting me into the race circuit. (Although, I was the one that approached him about our first 5k.) Now I'm not saying you have to get married or have a significant other to run, but having a friend to go with you or run the race with you is a great way to get through those first few months of training. You can keep each other accountable, and it makes the miles go by much quicker. We also got a dog, so that's another option if a human companion isn't available. Truth be told though, we outrun her these days. :P

Finally, when I hit a wall with training and was feeling unmotivated, I got creative. I knew rewards were a great way to encourage myself to just get out there on days when my mind was iffy about going. So I typed up a training schedule, hung it on the back of our front door, and highlighted each run that we went on. It's not perfect. Sometimes we miss runs. Sometimes we miss entire weeks, but we keep trying. And this week, I keep trying for Maroon 5. You see, my reward is that each run completed equals one iTunes song download. Maroon 5's new album is out, and I want it really badly. However it has 18 songs, so I have to complete 18 runs before I can download it. I'm on my way with 11 runs banked, so I hope to have it within the next two weeks. Every afternoon when I'm tired and just want to be lazy, I see my chart and I think about being one day closer to "Misery." (The song, not the emotion- how ironic!) And then I get my butt out there. 

Does it work? Right before Disney, I ran a 9:30 mile. Fifteen seconds faster than I did when I was 17 and playing tennis for the school. I also think running 3 miles now is a piece of cake, and I'm working my way up to 6 miles. Is it working? You decide. :)

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