Sunday, January 8, 2012

From terribly daunting to totally doable

I was 33 and a mother of two, three and under, when I first started running. I was chronically exhausted, out-of-shape and frequently made a meal out of dark chocolate peanut M&Ms. My friend Kate asked me to join her in running a 5k as a way to motivate us both to get out and run. I said yes. Not because I wanted to actually run. But because you don't say no to Kate. And also? I was tired of being tired and out of shape. And I figured if I started exercising more regularly, I could continue eating dark chocolate peanut M&Ms with minimal consequences.

Everybody starts somewhere, and for me, somewhere was finishing a 5k without stopping to walk. I never dreamed (not in my worst nightmare) that I'd run anything further than 3.1 miles. But then Kate roped me into running 5 miles in a marathon relay, and then running a 10k, and then....well you get the point. It's all Kate's fault. And I love her for it.

Fast forward to today. I'm training for my second half marathon. It was only a year ago (when I began training for the race I didn't get to run) that I increased my distance beyond 3 or 4 miles. What surprised me most about training for the half was how the distance went from terribly daunting to totally doable after less than three months of training.

You see, I'm the average Jo. When I started running, it felt anything but easy. I was convinced the elusive "runners high" was just a cruel hoax perpetrated by naturally gifted runners. I rolled my eyes at those deranged people who called running their "therapy." I'll stick to a glass of wine and a good book, thankyouverymuch. 

But I kept running in my oh so average way. And with each mile, I grew stronger, faster than I was the month before. And it was a good feeling--an addictive feeling--when I realized I could run faster and farther at 36 than I could at 16. Pardon my dust, 16 year old self.

(That being said, even now I can't run one mile, downhill and with the wind at my back at the same pace my friend Kristin can run 26.2 miles. If ever I get big-headed and call myself one bad mother runner, you can just remind me about Kristin, mmkay?)

Anyway, all of this is to say that no matter if you are just starting out, if you've never run a race in your life, if you are terrified of tackling 3.1 or 13.1 miles, you are more than capable.  You can do this. We can do this.

I'd love to hear more from you. Do you believe that you can (run that 5k, 10k, or that half marathon) or are you doubting yourself? Tell me, what is holding you back from giving this running thing a shot? What goals have you set for yourself with respect to running? Have you signed up for a race? Have you found a training plan to help you get started?

Coming up tomorrow: We'll dig into some training details, and I'll share specifics about the training plan I've used to prepare for a half marathon.

The Run for their Lives donation page is up and running! If you're hoping to raise funds for Love146 as part of your upcoming race, visit this page and click "Join the Run". From there, choose which team you'd like to join and customize your personal donation page as you like. You can join any of the teams set up even if you aren't running the specific event for that team. (So far we have a team for DC, West coast, and Southeast.) 


  1. I love this, Jo! Just over 6 months ago, I would have told you that I would not ever, no never, run. At all. Unless someone was chasing me. With a weapon. And even then I would maybe just surrender because *I was not a runner*. Well, I started the couch to 5k program at the beginning of July, ran my first 5k on Labor Day, and now just 4 months after that, I head out for 6 mile runs as my standard treat to myself. I would never have thought that I would love running, but I do. So very much.

    I say all of this because I really was someone who *knew* that I HATED running and would never be a runner, and I discovered I was wrong and that I could do it and that I would feel great. Point being: ANYONE can do it! My next goal is to run a half marathon next fall. (I'm thinking this spring is too soon to double my distance?)

    p.s. I'm looking into Love146 and your program and I'll let you know if I sign up!

  2. Hey Jo, I love what you're doing and I agree that running would be great, for me it is just a time issue. At this stage in life there are no spaces to fit it in. Is there another way I can support Love146?