Hi. I’m still alive, in case you were concerned. My life has been consumed by busyness lately, but since I have a few spare moments, I thought I would finally share my musings on training.
As I’ve mentioned before, I had an embarrassing two-season career as a cross country runner in middle school. Middle school cross country consisted of running two miles. I had a two-mile loop that I loved to hate running back in the day. Obviously training for two mile races is different than training for a 5K, but I distinctly remember running that loop and thinking that I would never, ever be able to go an additional 1.1 miles. I simply could not fathom running any farther than two miles, even though in the back of my mind I really wanted to tackle a 5K.
I held on to that mental block for a long time. In fact, I didn’t let it go until I accidentally ran three miles a few months back. I had set out for an unstructured just-for-fun run with a friend, and when I came home and mapmyrun.com-ed my route, I discovered that I ran three miles with no problem. A 5K suddenly seemed a lot more attainable. For me, the fact that I finally overcame that block has been the biggest accomplishment of all. It took nine weeks of hard work, but the sense of pride I had at the end of my race on Saturday more than made up for the rougher runs.
This is not to say that I’ve overcome all my mental blocks in relation to running. I have other running and active sports goals–I’d really like to work my way up to an 8K (the Shamrock Shuffle, to be exact), 10Ks, half-marathons, and eventually a marathon. I’d also like to try my hand at a triathlon some day. Most of these things are long, long term goals: things I’d like to accomplish in the next ten to fifteen years or so. While in theory these are my long term goals, I couldn’t begin to count the number of times during my 5K training where I thought, “I don’t know how on earth those fall marathon runners train in weather like this, running well more than double what I’m running right now.” Overcoming those mental blocks is probably a ways down the road, but now I have something to look back on to prove to myself that I can do it. I guess that’s a good life lesson to take away from this whole process: just because something seems impossible doesn’t mean it is.
The biggest unexpected benefit I found in this training was a sense of self-confidence. I am hardly the most self-confident person in the world, but these past nine weeks really helped me out in that department. I didn’t really lose much, neither weight nor inches, in my training, but man did I feel good about myself after those three-mile or more runs. Ultimately, I think that’s way more important than losing vanity pounds or inches. Putting in these runs made me feel healthy, and let me tell you: that’s a great way to feel.
Really, the only thing I would have changed about this entire experience would be my dedication (or lack thereof) to strength training. Strength training has always been a struggle for me because I really hate doing it, so I was more than willing to sacrifice that for just about anything else all summer long. I really want to make a commitment to working on that aspect of my fitness for round two of my 5K career (next race is most likely in October!). Who wants to hold me accountable? 😉 Overall, though, deciding to take on this 5K was one of the better decisions I’ve made, and in the end all the sweat, frustration, and burning muscles were completely worth it 🙂
What lessons have you learned lately?