Really there is no rhyme or reason to how this little addiction of mine began. I had casually ran track in Jr. High and part of HS. I was always a sprinter and thought those Cross Country people were seriously cray. I was amazed that they had the desire or strength to run for 30 minutes straight. I finished HS and never gave running a second thought.
After I graduated from Ohio State, I decided to up and move to Cincinnati. I landed a job, made a few friends, but really had no "hobby." I thought. Hmmm... despite not running in years...maybe I'll run a marathon??? That'll be my hobby! I did continue to work out throughout college so was somewhat in shape. However, running a marathon and doing the stair master while rocking out to Lenny Kravitz are two different beasts.
So yeah, before I could change my mind, I signed up for a marathon. I'd never even run a 5k but per usual, I'm impulsive and set my sights high.
So I printed out a 20 week training plan and started my training. I set out for my first 3.5 mile "training" run and it was hard. And it was hot. And I didn't even have running shorts. Or a proper bra for that matter. I really had no idea what I was doing but remembered reading somewhere (Shape magaine, perhaps?) that beginner runners should start out by alternating running and then walking. Sound familiar? Couch to 5k anyone? Anyway, I ended up running at a snails pace for 4 or 5 minutes and then walking for a minute. I did this until I hit my 3.5 miles. After that first run, I did feel a big sense of accomplishment. And I felt excited about this new little hobby of mine.
The funny thing is, this was all before anyone had a running GPS. So what did I do? I used to get in my car before my run and literally drive my route to measure it out perfectly and then drive home, park my car, and hit the road. Pretty comical now that we are in the land of Runkeeper apps and Garmin's.
After a few weeks, I worked up to a point where I could run these miles without walking. I was SLOW but I was still running.
Over the course of my training, I recruited some other newbie runners along the way. We were pretty clueless but at least we were in the same boat.
In retrospect, ignorance was bliss. It's a miracle that I didn't injure myself. And it's a miracle that I continued on with training, despite always feeling somewhat behind the 8 ball.
I did end up finishing my inaugural marathon. My time was not good and my recovery took way longer than it should have. However, mentally I felt pretty darn good and pretty high on life.
The addiction begins when you get a taste of crossing that finish line. A desire to beat your old time just adds fuel to the fire.
Today, I've been running consistently for 15 years. Minus a couple pregnancies and a couple minor running burn outs. Saying I'm so glad that I stuck with it is an understatement. It's my BFF, my love, my therapy, my peace.
But yeah, don't do what I did. Start small. Make a 5k or 10k your goal and move up from there.
I'll be doing some upcoming posts on how to PROPERLY start running. So stay tuned!