Dear former Melissa:

What I wish I could tell myself before I became a runner:

  1. It’s not impossible.

The first thing I hear when I tell a non-runner that I run is “oh my god I can’t even run for three minutes”. Not true. Running feels impossible because when you are not doing it all the time, when you need to run (like for the bus, or in the other direction when you see your ex), it causes you to get way out of breath and exhausted in a short amount of time. However, there are training plans that make incremental changes so it never feels quite like that. To my own surprise, finding out that I could do something that I could not do two weeks before had to be the most rewarding feeling.

  1. Runners are the nicest people you will meet.

Although they might look intimidating gliding down the street with poise and elegance, hardly breaking a sweat and talking to their buddy running alongside, they are not at all. I am not a fast, talented, or natural runner whatsoever. However, even those that I have come across that have run multiple full marathons or even Boston Qualified have cheered me on. They will always give advice, carpool, and celebrate successes. Runners are awesome.

  1. You don’t have to be first, or even 500th to feel like you won.

I was that kid in gym class who would fake an injury to get out of class. It was not because I was lazy, either. It was because I was lacking athleticism and grace, and I would never ever be “good” at whatever activity was assigned. Running, to my surprise, is not like this at all. Every time I set a new PB (personal best), I feel like I’ve won the Olympics.

  1. For an independent activity, you’ll make a heck of a lot of awesome friends.

Runners only run alone sometimes. I have met lifelong friends through this journey, which is not an easy task in adulthood. Runners get together not only to run, but also to eat (a lot), watch movies, or just hang out. There are groups (like BLT Runners) that get together on the weekly. There are fb chats ongoing. It’s all friendship!

  1. The effects don’t end when you stop running.

Before I was a runner I considered any running related activity to be the worst-case-scenario. See a bear? Run. Late for work? Run. It’s not like that. When you run regularly, you start to crave the head space. You sleep better, eat better, think better, live better.

  1. The technology is awesome.

I always thought running would be free. Instead, I find myself dropping hundreds of dollars on fancy Garmin GPS watches and “chip timed” runs. Runners were using iWatch technology long before Apple thought of it. Tracking your distance, speed, pace, all laid out on a pretty little map of your route is the best way to compare progress. In races, PB’s are only PB’s if your chip time tells you so. Not to mention my new Bluetooth headphones. How did I run before they came into my life?

  1. There is a social media platform just for runners – and people use it.

Strava. Check it out. It’s like Instagram only in order to post, you need to turn on your GPS watch and run around. Once you stop, the stats from your run get uploaded and your friends start praising you for things like “negative splits”. To a slower runner this seems terrifying to compare your numbers to your faster friend’s numbers, but its totally not (see items 2-4).

  1. It’ll get you instragram followers.

Actually though. I’ve loved sharing my progress on my dedicated running insta (so not to be that annoying gym-selfie poster on my personal insta), @betterlongrun, and have found the community of inta-runners absolutely inspiring. It’s also an awesome way to stay accountable, when there is a week between posts, y’all know I was on the couch.

  1. It’s really hard but you won’t hate that.

There’s something exhilarating about being exhausted, seeing a hill, and conquering it anyway. You start to crave that feeling.

  1. It will show you parts of the province you’ve never seen before.

Lakes, streams, back woods. Disconnect and reconnect. You’ll never believe what is in your own back yard, and running will almost always take you there if you let it.


We’re off to the races!

Sunday marked the first race of the 2017 race season. I have heard great things about the MEC Race Series, and thought that it was an awesome way to keep motivated all year with 5 races. Plus all my friends were doing it, and race FOMO is a serious condition. 

As a new runner it is hard to figure out which races are must-do’s, and I’m here to tell you that MEC definitely is! The courses are fun (some are challenging!), the race is very well organized, its SUPER affordable, and its very popular. The organizers announced that 400 people are signed up for this year’s full series – and that number includes me!

I signed up for the 5k for Race One, which I am very happy I did, since PPP is very hilly. I also find it fun to really push myself in a 5k and see what I can do, which I find is harder when running a longer distance, really needing to conserve energy for later kms.

The race was originally scheduled for January 8, but after a huge snowfall they cancelled. The wait was definitely worth it, because at -1 and overcast the conditions were perfect. The crusher-dust trail was frozen but not icy, and not warm enough for slippery mud. I had a great nights sleep and felt really good getting out there.

I set out and felt really good, pumping myself up for the upcoming first (and most difficult) hill in the course. Slowly but surely I made it up to the top, feeling a bit like a superhero, and decided at that point that I’d give the last 3 kms a real college try. I felt great flying down the hills trying to make up for the time lost going up them.

 I decided in the last km to empty my tank, picking up the pace – but then got tripped up by a (really freaking cute) dog on the course (PPP seconds as an off-leash dog park!) and put my hands out to catch my fall. It was one of those slow motion kind of trips. Humiliating, but can’t blame the dog for this one. Somehow, miraculously, at 4.6km I caught myself and didn’t actually wipe out, just elegantly tripped forward and flailed a bit. Reassuring the people behind me that I was ok (aside from my ego), I decided to laugh about that later and giv’er to the finish. 

My goal for the race was not to PB, but just to run it for feel and see what I could do. I finished at 33 minutes, 6:45 average pace, which is really only 1:45 away from my 5k PB. Not too shabby considering the hills!

I’m very much looking forward to the other races in this series. Congrats to everyone who got out yesterday to run MEC Race One!

Till next time, I’m #BetterInTheLongRun.