It all started with a quest to buy toothpaste.
I was walking down the street to my local grocery store when a flyer on some wall caught my eye. The Honey Badger Half Marathon was coming up in a month and registration was now open. There also included a 5 kilometer and 10 kilometer option for participants who wanted a less difficult race.
Call it destiny, or call it some random coincidence, but at that exact moment something was telling me that it would be a great idea to sign up for a 5k race.
I wasn’t a runner, in fact the only time I ever ran for an extended period of time (outside of Physical Education class in high school) was to catch a bus or to run away from a skunk. After buying the toothpaste and before the wave of interest for the race receded, I quickly went online and paid the registration fee. Now that money had just been invested I felt a moral obligation to follow through with this personal challenge.
Weeks of training later, I managed to finish my first ever 5 kilometer race. It wasn’t pretty, it wasn’t fast, but it surely was worth it.
Here are seven truths I learned from running my first 5k race:
Your Body Will Want to Have a Serious Talk with You
After your first race your body will want to ask, “What the heck did you just put me through?” Soon afterwards it will then ask, “Why is it so easy to walk up stairs now?” Eventually it will start wondering, “When are we racing again?”
Slow and Steady Wins Happy Legs
It’s your first race, and maybe your first time training for anything, so why rush into it? If you’re new to setting up a running schedule or preparing for a race then the best practice is to go easy. Your body and especially your legs will benefit from very short runs that progress gradually into longer ones. This prevents injuries and helps you build endurance.
Find The Right Shoes
Entering the world of running is an investment, not only in your confidence, but also in your body. If you’re going to start training for races, then it’s imperative to buy a decent pair of shoes that have the right fit. Your feet will thank you later.
Running Partners Are The Best Wingmen
One of the best ways of training for a race is to find someone who has the same goal as you. One person can push the other if he or she isn’t feeling motivated. Also the act of simply talking about something is a perfect form of distraction while on a run, which makes that rainy day jog feel like a breeze.
Your Mind Can Be Your Biggest Enemy
Speaking of motivation, one of the biggest hurdles every runner faces isn’t physical; it’s mental. Voices inside might be saying that you can’t go any further or doesn’t watching TV sound so much better right now? but you need to sweep these internal naysayers aside. Your body is fully capable of going longer and faster than you think. Some brain push-ups are necessary in order to make this happen.
Routines Work Wonders
An important aspect of training is consistency. Going for a three mile run one day at 7pm then waiting a couple days before doing another one at 8am isn’t necessarily bad, but it won’t help you reach your maximum potential. You’ll feel more motivated and your body will give you a high-five if you can create a routine that follows a similar pattern each week. This can be hard at first, but after one week you’ll see benefits. If you mark your schedule at a specific time each day for training, then it’s easier to not make excuses and actually do it.
You’ve Just Become Addicted to a Drug
After training consistently and completing your first race, you’ll probably be feeling an urge to sign up for another one. You’ll have proven to yourself that you can accomplish a goal, you’ll be feeling stronger, and the craving for released endorphins (also known as a runner’s high) will be hard to ignore. Running at first requires lots of patience and absolutely is a physical hurdle, but once your reach a level where racing is doable then you’ll find it hard to get it out of your system. Jogging with friends, to class, or even to buy toothpaste might even become a new part of your lifestyle.