Health & Fitness.

Becoming A Runner


I was never athletic growing up. (If my Dad were alive today he would laugh because that is SUCH AN UNDERSTATEMENT.) I naturally gravitate towards the television, rather than to the gym.

Wait…WAIT. There was that ONE time in high school where I ran track. Disclaimer: It was a small school, you could play whatever you wanted and my friends chose track! My first meet I decided to run the 400m, not because I had a coach that recommended it but because I thought “ONE LAP! I can do that!” Except I couldn’t. I sprinted the first 10 meters and then almost died the rest of the lap. I got to the end and didn’t want to come in last so I pushed it to try to pass the girl in front of me. Instead? I FELL FACE FIRST OVER THE FINISH-LINE. The entire crowd groaned and I shaved a layer of skin off knees-shins.

But other than THAT glorious moment, I’ve never been athletic.

However, I have had several friends over the years go from SITTER to RUNNER and in 2006 I found myself thinking maybe I could do the same. I tried for 5 years with various “Beginner” training programs to run half-marathons. I was never able to run all 13.1 miles due to failure to really hold to any of the programs. I skipped almost all of the mid-week runs and usually cut the long runs short on the weekends. I guess the best I ever did was the half in Tucson, which I did in about 2:40 or so. The worst was in Disney where I ran for my Dad with Team In Training. I only ran 8 miles and only did those 8 with the emotions of my Dad’s photos on my back. The rest I walked.

I was starting to assume I would never be a runner.

After having some success this year getting in shape with boot camp, and learning to ignore my own limitations; I thought I’d give running a try again. First, I trained on my own to run that 10K in May that I was terrified of. Then I decided to give the local half a try again.

My husband and other friends had numerous successes in doing the training programs at our Fleet Feet, so at their urging I signed up for the Mizuno 13.1 training program in August. I’ve run 300 miles since then and our race is Saturday. I am so ready for this half-marathon, I’m not even nervous. Here is why I think this program worked for me, and why it would work for anyone else:

  • They held me accountable. Both the coaches and the participants noticed if I wasn’t there. If I missed one group run, they’d ask me at the next one if I did it on my own. It’s much easier to lie to yourself than it is to other people, it turns out.
  • The lead coach built a program that gradually led me to being able to run the distance. I was terrified at first because I was barely able to do 5-6 miles on my own. The program said I would do 14 miles…TWICE…before the race. But you know what? I stuck to the running schedule she gave us and BAM. I’ve done just that. Run 14 miles already…TWICE.
  • There are plenty of other coaches who are wonderful and supportive. No matter what my pace or skill level, there was a coach who helped me along the way. Some helped me cut seconds off my speedwork, others taught me how to make it through the tough miles on the official course.
  • I did training exercises I would never do on my own. We ran hills and did speedwork at a track. There is no way I would have EVER done that stuff on my own but it turns out? It really helps you when you do it. Who knew?
  • Running in groups is great! If you have a big enough group, there is bound to be one or two people that can run about your pace. These small little groups that would form during our long runs made the miles fade away. I spent about seven miles one run talking Harry Potter with another participant. EASIEST SEVEN MILES EVER.
  • The camaraderie. I am very sad to be saying goodbye to these participants. We’ve been on the battlefield together for 13+ weeks now. We’ve helped each other through injuries and successes. We’ve pushed each other when we’ve needed pushing and we’ve slowed down for each other when we needed support. They’re my team and I can’t wait to see each one of them meet their goals on Saturday.

I just can not tell you enough how much I loved this group and hate that it took me so long to finally sign up for it. Don’t make the same mistake I did. If you want to try to run something, see if you have a Fleet Feet. My friend is running with the Fleet Feet in Knoxville – so it seems like they have these programs at most stores.

Until then, wish the Mizuno 13.1 Training group luck for Saturday’s race! If you’re local, come out and cheer for us if you’d like, here is the course map. I hope to see you around at other Fleet Feet training events, because this is quite an addictive hobby. And it turns out that that you could wake up one day and say, “Damn. I’m a runner. When did that happen?”

Consider that your warning.

8 thoughts on “Becoming A Runner”

  1. It has been so cool for me to watch you progress, and you are a HUGE HUGE part of why I’m giving it a try again. Maybe one day I’ll get a job, at which point I have every intention of searching out a group to run with.

  2. I am a reader, not a commenter but I had to come out of hiding to let you know how motivating you have been for me. I am running my first 10k tomorrow and doing the Rock and Roll Half Marathon in New Orleans in March. I started the C210k 8 weeks ago with a group organized by my church ( we started at week 5 so we could be ready in time for this race). I am so excited and never DREAMED I would be a runner!! Good luck tomorrow!

  3. Congrats! This sounds like a great training program. I’ve joined a winter training group the past two years, but it was a small group, no one ran at my pace, and the group always dwindled down quickly because running in the winter kind of sucks. Maybe I’ll look for another group. I’m self-conscious about how slow I am though, which makes me prefer running alone.

  4. Because of this post I just bit the bullet and signed up with my local FF for the 10K program. I’ve been running on my own for a few years- never getting past three miles or even consistently running the whole time. I’m a shy, non athletic person myself, but I was completely motivated by you and your amazing success. Thank you for giving me the push I needed. I hope that my journey will be as rewarding as yours has been.

  5. In 2010 I managed to drop about 20 pounds and between running, weight training and a few of the P90X videos got in the best shape of my life. I’d run a few halfs and one full up to that point but always struggled to improve my times and was convinced I’d never get my time below 2:00. I was able to do four halfs last year and my times dropped into the low 1:50’s but what really changed is I had FUN. I was a runner. And I loved every minute of it. To see you going through that process makes me so incredibly happy for you!!! This year has ended up being a break from races due to some health issues, heat waves, etc. but I’m recommitting to 2012 with the eventual goal of doing the Goofy Challenge at WDW in January 2013, a few weeks before my 40th birthday. That feeling is intoxicating and I want it back!!! Enjoy it, missy ’cause you’ve earned it!!!!

  6. I’ve been reading you blog forever, and had my kids right after Nikki and Wes and each time I’ve been totally inspired by your journey to become a runner. This post is my very, very favorite, because it honestly never occurred to me that you were not a “real” runner. I just thought “Oh wow, this chic who is very similar to me became a runner and is all hot and buff. I guess we’re not that similar, after all.” Well, someday never happened because my second child took every ounce of sanity I had, and I just couldn’t figure out where to find the time. Meanwhile, the elliptical machine has been sitting in the garage–it’s not like I even have to leave my house to work out. For some reason this post was what it took to make me get off my butt and go work out. I’ve done at least a light workout every single day since this post. I haven’t worked out like this in five years, and I feel like my old self again. The difference is now I don’t discount the idea that I could be a runner (an idea that always seemed out of reach). So thank you. You are awesome 🙂

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