Most everyone knows that my successful running career started with a VERY failed attempt in 2006. I trained about 75% for 2 half marathons and about 5% for a full marathon and decided – and proclaimed VERY vocally – “RUNNING IS NOT FOR ME!”
And obviously that was a lie.
I’m so glad I gave it another chance, that I didn’t hold on to that proclamation forever. So, I thought I’d talk to everyone who tried and made the same proclamation by addressing some of the things that made me quit the first time as well as things I know my friends have also overcome on their journey.
I feel you. It’s terrifying. I still remember the anxiety over my first 5K. But know this: That anxiety over that first 5K? Was the highest level of anxiety I’ve ever felt with running. And it ALWAYS pales in comparison to the pride I feel at the finish. I’m scared to try new running groups. I’m scared to run new races. Even now. I’ve gotten very comfortable with my local runs and have told myself I really need to step out of my comfort zone and do an out-of-town trail race but I’m SO SCARED. Still! So, I get it. I do. But try to take baby steps. Don’t think about a marathon if you’ve not managed a 5K yet. And don’t feel silly about being scared of a 5K. 5Ks are TERRIFYING. Be scared! But just trust that the pride will change that when it’s over. The fear never goes away, but neither does the pride. As adults who no longer get report cards or trophies, how else are we going to feel that PRIDE of accomplishment? If you’re lucky you get some sort of recognition at your office for a job well done, but overall it’s difficult to feel PROUD about stuff as an adult. But finishing a race? There you have it. Right there. And it will totally wipe away the fear from the start line. The pride of the finish line makes it all worth it.
I always get blisters!
DUDE. This was a HUGE reason why I quit the first time. Nothing I did (socks/creams/wraps etc) ever stopped me from getting blisters. I even ran with duct tape on my feet once! Seriously. I tried EVERYTHING. And you know what? Eventually my feet just toughened up. And I know that sucks as an excuse but it does give you hope. And sometimes I still get blisters, we all do, but they don’t hurt as bad and I have looked up ways to “deal” with them when they happen in the middle of a race so I can keep going. Blisters suck. They hurt. But everyone knows how much they suck and you get a lot of sympathy and understanding from your running friends about them.
I have no injury, but my knee and/or hip! It hurts!
Obviously you need to check with a doctor about any pains you’re having. But if there’s no actual injury – consider your shoes. You’d be surprised how many knee/hip issues related to running in the wrong shoes. Go to someplace like Fleet Feet Sports that films your run and then watch it in slow motion (They only film your feet!) to see if you pronate, or how much you pronate so they can recommend shoes for you. If you’ve suffered an injury and you’re unable to work for the 6-week recovery time. You need to make sure you have income protection insurance, you can easily buy income protection insurance online with iSelect if you haven’t yet got protection.
You might also consider your form. You can read articles about form and sometimes it’s easy to correct. Other times it’s not, but it’s always correctable. I have shitty form and it does cause me lower-back issues but I’m trying to work through that.
Finally, consider rolling/stretching. A lot of hip/knee issues relate to tight IT bands. There are tons of good stretches you can do before – but especially AFTER your run to help loosen that up. Some they recommend you do daily, even if you’re not running. Spend some time with Google – there’s TONS of good stuff out there. I had IT band issues for VERY brief spurts of time TWICE and luckily the stretching/rolling kept those issues from really bothering me for too long.
I have a knee/hip injury!
Obviously talk to your doctor. HOWEVER, make sure you have a “run friendly” doctor. We have a local Facebook running page where people are always asking for doctor recommendations. The easy answer is always, “Stop running.” But many doctors, especially ones that run themselves, know there are things you can do that allow you to keep running, or at least keep your break short. Donnie actually changed doctors partly for that reason. The “running friendly” doctor knew a little bit more about what to look at and sent him to get some Physical Therapy for awhile. He was out, but not permanently. And many PTs can do things like show you how to use KT tape or other support items on hips/knees. And – WORSE CASE SCENARIO – if you need surgery? You’re still not out. I have tons of friends who built successful running careers even after knee replacements or back surgeries. I have friends with metal rods in their backs and brand new knees…and they still make it back out!
It’s just so boring.
This was another thing that make me quit the first time. But finding running groups REALLY helped that. It started by joining a training program at Fleet Feet and then I just met more and more people along the way from there. I’ve had some groups I’ve shown up to meet and would never go back again. I’ve had snarky comments made that I’ve overheard about me being there in the first place. BUT…the overwhelming majority of experiences have been positive. I just offer one MAJOR tip: Verify ACTUAL paces of the running group. Do not believe “All Paces Welcome”. I hate to say it but sometimes people just don’t realize that some runners run a 12-minute mile and so they don’t even CONSIDER that as an actual “pace”. So, make sure your pace actually falls in line with their fastest/slowest in the group. I’ve been ditched before and I’ve almost killed myself trying to stay caught up before. Both times in an “all paces welcome” group.
I’m too slow!
You are NOT slow. Quit saying that. You are slow-ER than some people but you are faster than WAY MORE. I have been the final runner/cyclist on a race before. It’s not that big of a deal. It actually gives you good stories for later. It doesn’t feel GREAT, but it doesn’t feel as bad as you think it would feel. Especially if you laugh about it and remind yourself that you’re the last of the 150 people in that race, but you’re in the top 1% of the rest of the people in your city who aren’t doing SHIT that day. Seriously. Ideally you don’t compare yourself to anyone. But if you’re going to compare yourself to SOMEONE, don’t limit it to the people on the race with you. Add in the people in the McDonald’s drive-thru at that moment. Or the people still in bed. Or to YOURSELF the year before when YOU were still in bed or in the drive-thru. You are NOT slow. I don’t care how long it takes you. You are moving forward. That’s all that matters.