To be clear, this is not a “Why You/Everybody Should Run” post or a listicle of the benefits of running . I’ll let you Google that or figure out whether or not you enjoy running on your own. I’ve been wanting to write a post like this for awhile, and since week #25 coincided with the beginning of my marathon training, I figured it was good timing!
I’m by no means an expert on the topic; I just like to run and I’ve found that certain things work well for me and other things don’t. If you want tips, I suggest checking out Running Room, Canadian Running Magazine, Runner’s World, etc.
OK, so why did I start running? I’d always been involved in sports, but never understood why you would run without the incorporation of a ball or stick of some sort – what’s the point and what are you trying to prove?? I haaaated conditioning, didn’t like running laps, and just wanted to play (and win). That probably partly explains why I was never (ever) the fastest or strongest.
As an adult, I tried to get into a running routine a few times, but it never stuck. I attribute this to good old fashioned laziness and because it was friggin’ hard! One lap around the block and I was pooped. I liked to be good at things and running was definitely not one of those things. I also cared way too much about what other people thought and didn’t particularly enjoy displaying my out-of-shape-ness to the world.
You might be thinking that things didn’t look too promising for me…what changed? I’ve been running consistently for almost 2 years now, which lines up with around the time my Aunt Jen passed away from breast cancer. For those who didn’t know her, Jen was one of the most amazing people ever. She had a wicked sense of humour, loved being active and outdoors, was an awesome musician, and just generally made the most out of life. It was awful watching someone who was so young, healthy and full of life have all that taken away.
I signed up for the CIBC Run for the Cure in October 2015. I had been taking my health for granted and, while I wasn’t super unhealthy, there were things that could definitely be improved. There was no reason why I couldn’t exercise more, eat better, and generally take better care of my body while I was still young and capable.
Things started off slowly. I had next-to-zero endurance and was carrying extra weight, which didn’t help things. My knees weren’t in spectacular shape. I was huffing and puffing a few hundred meters in. Whew, how far have I gone?? Must be a couple kilometers by now…oh, I still see the house 😦 that’s unfortunate.
I slowly worked my way up to the 5K run with the help of a FitBit (I now use a Garmin), a training plan geared toward beginners, and tried to clean up my diet a bit. I think I ran that first 5K in 28ish minutes or something? I wasn’t too concerned with the time… I just wanted to finish and raise money (over $500 woohoo!) while I was at it.
And then I just kept running and running some more.
So, that’s my little journey so far. There are many reasons why I continue to run, but here are my top 5:
1. Happier, Healthier, Stronger
This is my #1 reason. I mean, there are scientific explanations for why exercise in general boosts your mood and energy (endorphins and all that), but if you like what you’re doing then you’ll get so much more out of it. So if you hate running, don’t force yourself to do it. Love kickboxing or yoga? Awesome, do that! I enjoy being outside and pushing myself to tackle new routes, speeds, distances, hills (well…”enjoy” might not be the right word for that one) and seeing improvements in my strength and endurance. Running also encourages me to do more cross-training to prevent injury (both while running and during recreational sports or other athletic endeavors like cartwheels) and improve my flexibility and strength.
2. Increased Gratitude
I have lost quite a bit of weight (not necessarily my goal but I would be lying if I said it wasn’t welcomed), but I also have a better appreciation of what my body is able to accomplish and I’m much more motivated to take care of it. So far it’s allowed me to walk across Spain, climb some mountains, and it continues to support me in running further and faster. I’ve also seen what years of not taking care of yourself looks like and, since we as a population insist on living longer and longer, would prefer to spend my golden years tearing up the pickleball court vs. being in the hospital. I also never want a doctor to write “appears MUCH older than stated age” on my chart. Goals.
You only get one body – unless we get reincarnated. In that case, I’d like to be a dolphin next time. A majestic free-roaming one, NOT a tourist dolphin. Whoever takes care of the reincarnation, make note of that please. Where was I…oh yeah, you (probably) only get one body, so take care of it while you can.
I love incorporating running into my travels. It’s a fantastic way to see new places, gives you a different perspective, and you can access routes and viewpoints that you can’t always get to by car. I’ve also seen a lot more of my own city and love discovering trails or streets I never knew existed. It gets me outside, is a great way to enjoy the outdoors and get some vitamin D, and has made me (sometimes begrudgingly) more of a morning person. Plus, running seems to be a more acceptable way to gawk at nice houses vs. slowly driving by them haha.
4. Food Food Food
I won’t lie, sometimes thinking about what I’m going to eat when I get home (answer = waffles) is the only thing that gets me through the end of a long run or tough workout. More calories burned = more calories consumed = two breakfasts. It’s science. I love food and trying new recipes (btw you have to try these pretzel energy bites SO GOOD). I also have a better understanding of nutrition and what (and how much) I need to eat.
Signing up for races and having a training schedule are very important motivators for me; it helps keep me accountable, gives me a goal, and it’s something to look forward to. Since that first 5K, I’ve run a few longer distance races and all of those distances (yes, including the 5K) seemed impossible at first. You have to start somewhere though, even if it’s just a 10 minute jaunt down the street. And the medals, shirts, and race bibs are nice souvenirs 🙂
What’s next? I’m training for my first full marathon, the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon in October. 42.2 km seems very far…one could even say double the distance of a half-marathon :p And I’m super excited that Eric, my sister, and my mom are going to be running the 5K at this event! I guess I’ll have to wait a few years for my niece to join though…I’ll settle for having her as part of the cheering squad for now.
Thanks for reading, happy running 🙂