Chrissy is a native New Yorker presently living in Texas. At The New Me she blogs about her life (being a librarian, being in love and walking her dog), her obsessions (vegan cooking, photography, and running) and her dreams (marathons and best-selling novels, naturally).
In the second grade, I was placed in Remedial Gym.
How does a person get placed in Remedial Gym? In my case, I was a stubborn seven year old who did one sit-up and stopped, who refused to even attempt a pull-up, and who sat in the grass, looking for four-leaf clovers, while the rest of my class ran a mile around the track. Needless to say, I scored low enough on the physical fitness test to warrant remediation. (On the bright side, I positively excelled at Remedial Gym.)
Somehow, that stubborn seven-year-old grew up to be a goal-oriented twenty-six-year-old, who recently decided to train for a marathon. Oh, if my Remedial Gym teacher could see me now! These days, I love running. I love waking up at 5:30 in the morning three days a week and hitting the trail. I love the feeling I get when I’ve finished a run when my face is pink and my heart feels like it’s going to burst out of my chest. I love the way running has strengthened my body and quieted my mind.
Running has made me better in a lot of ways – I’m healthier (can’t run without proper nutrition), I sleep better (running will wear you out), I drink less (have you ever run with a hangover? Not recommended) and I’ve found that the discipline of running has translated to other aspects of my life. Writing, reading, my job – the sluggish manner in which I once approached the challenges of my life has faded away, replaced by the drive of an ambitious woman with a voracious appetite for adventure and knowledge, fueled by powerful legs and a whole lotta carbs.
I’m not going to lie. This whole running thing hasn’t been easy and it’s taken me a year and a half to get to where I am. I’d never been a runner before, had never once, in my whole life, run a full mile. And yet, in January of 2008, I decided it was time to try something new. Here’s how I went from jogging ten feet at a time to training for an upcoming marathon in fourteen not-so-simple steps.
1. First, I convinced several of my girlfriends to train for a 5K with me. We started a blog where we posted our runs, and we met up once or twice a week for group workouts.
2. The Google led me to a running plan that seemed do-able – it was called the Couch to 5K plan, which was right up my alley. The first week, you jog for 60 seconds and alternate that with 90 seconds of walking. Piece of cake!
3. That cake did not last long. By the fifth week we were expected to jog a full two miles! It was painful, but it got easier over time.
4. In March of 2008, I ran my first 5K in exactly 34 minutes. I was high for days!
5. Then I didn’t really run at all for about four months. I had completed my goal and considered myself done.
6. I missed running. I missed the little victories, like improving my speed or adding another half a mile to my run. I missed the routine of putting on my sneakers and being outside on the trail. I missed the muscles in my legs. I decided to start running again.
7. Four months off is a long time. It was even harder than I remembered, and I nearly threw in the towel for good.
8. But instead I pushed on. My boyfriend started running with me, which was challenging – he’s very fast with enviable endurance. I almost quit again, but then I noticed that I was getting faster, running farther.
9. I joined a great website, dailymile.com. I started logging each run and being able to see my improvement while connecting with a community of supportive athletes, was what I needed to break through my wall.
10. The first time I ran four miles, I was so proud I almost cried in the middle of the gym.
11. The first time I ran five miles (about three weeks later) I felt like I’d won a gold medal in the Olympics.
12. I started doing short runs during the week, and long, slow runs on Sundays. The long runs were actually relaxing, which was a pleasant surprise.
13. In April of 2009, I ran my second 5K – 25 minutes and 22 seconds. My calves were sore for the following three days.
14. On May 1st, I begin training for my first marathon. I have a training plan, I have a love for the sport of running, and I have confidence. I’ll be sure to let y’all know how it all turns out.
These are the steps that worked for me, and I’m not done running yet. I’ve got a lot of miles in front of me and I’m honestly looking forward to them. If you’ve ever thought of running, the only thing I can tell you for sure is to begin.
It doesn’t matter how long it takes you to run a mile, or whether you come in last place in your first race. The real challenge is getting out there and doing it on a regular basis – once you get that part down, the rest will follow.
Good luck, and I’ll see you at the starting line!