Happy Memorial Day Weekend! And welcome to all the new readers who’ve come over from my Lady Lifter Spotlight at Jennifer’s! It is a craaaazy time around here right now. Today is my birthday bash, we’re moving tomorrow, and I start my internship on Tuesday. Yikes! I’m tired just thinking about it. However, despite the madness, I promised a follow-up post and I’m going to deliver!
Part 1 focused on why I hate running so much. Recently, I’ve made some changes that have helped me learn to
like tolerate running. Believe it or not, in my entire life, I had never run further than 5 miles, and when I started making these changes, I hadn’t done so in several years. Three weeks ago, I went for a 5 mile run, the following week my long run was six miles, and this week it was 7! I was so proud and kind of amazed, and the only changes I made were mental. If you have also struggled with running, hopefully some part of this will help you the way it has helped me. If you already love running and rock at it, than you rock, I’m jealous, and most of this will probably be obvious or irrelevant for you. 🙂
1. Changing my attitude.
This was the first step in the process for me and it happened long before I started my new running plan, but it’s important. I had to stop letting my running problems define me as a non-athlete, out of shape, or even sub-par. There are lots of other very active, very fit people out there who don’t like to run. Once I let go of that vision of myself, I was able to truly embrace my inner fitgirl by rocking at the types of exercise I love and excel at. This may seem like an easy step, but if you are where I was, it can be difficult. Do it anyway! When you find yourself doubting, think of me!
2. Changing my approach.
For a number of reasons I won’t get into here, in the past couple months, the way I think about running has started to shift. My biggest problem was pace. In his defense, John (a running machine) always used to say to me, “you need to find a pace,” to which I would angrily reply “I’m trying! I run with the music!” I thought he meant I needed to run faster and maintain that speed. Turns out I was wrong and he was just struggling to explain something that was natural to him.
Here is what I was doing wrong. Every time I went out for a run, I would try to run as far as I could, as fast as I could. Why? Well people are always comparing how many minutes per mile they run and how far they can go, so I assumed the goal was maximum distance at the maximum pace. I was right in some ways, but what I didn’t realize was most people can’t do both of those at the same time. At least not right away. A close friend of mine was training for a ten mile run, and she and I (and some of our other friends) share our daily workouts as motivation. She started referring to all these things I had never heard of “long run” and “tempo run.” When I asked her about it, she sent me a link to Hal Higdon, an apparently well-known program for marathon and half-marathon training. I explored the site, and in the Novice 2 Half-Marathon program, I found this:
“It’s better to run too slow during these long runs, than too fast. The important point is that you cover the prescribed distance; how fast you cover it doesn’t matter.”
That was my ah-ha moment. Ohhhhh you run slow so you can go far! In some ways this is obvious, but in other ways it wasn’t. I had an arbitrary number in my head – a ten minute mile. I was convinced you weren’t a “real” runner or weren’t really fit if you weren’t running less than a ten minute mile. First of all, I have no idea where I came up with this. Second, while I could (just) manage that for 2-3 miles, I couldn’t get much further.
I decided to loosely follow the Intermediate Half-Marathon program. When we left for our first long run, we started really slow. We talked the whole way, and we were at the halfway point before I knew it. We finished the run and I didn’t feel like dying. All I had to do was slow down, like, way down. I was kind of shocked, although not as shocked as I was the next week when I set a new PD (personal distance record) or this week when I did it again. I’m learning to embrace the fact that I’m a slow runner, and it’s been really encouraging to find other bloggers who also embrace their slow running.
Once I let go of my ego and embraced running slowly, I found I don’t hate running so much. It’s much more pleasant when I’m not gasping for breath the whole time (I save that for my HIIT workouts). It’s not as boring, because I can carry on a conversation with John as we go. I still want to work on speed but that’s coming through practice and through shorter runs at a faster pace. As with any fitness goal, you start where you are and you build up from there. While I can almost guarantee running will never be my favorite, it’s no longer something I dread, and for that, I’m incredibly grateful.
Have any of you struggled with running? What have you tried (successfully or otherwise) to overcome it?