What I wish I could tell myself before I became a runner:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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?
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.