Monday, June 2, 2014

Guest Post: Lessons I've Learned as a Runner

At this point, I'm about to pop. So as I tie up loose ends around the house, and as I eventually adjust to my new role as mother of two, I will be sharing a series of guest posts that I have collected from my peers. These posts will be peppered in between words from yours truly (because you can't get rid of me that easily), but as anyone going through a life-changing moment knows...all help is good, very welcomed help. So first up, we have Kathryn of From Dancing to Running. She's here today to share a newbie's perspective on running. Essentially, a compilation of the things she's learned thus far along the way. Because, you know, dancers can be runners, too.

I started running in March 2013. I was inspired by my husband to train for and complete my first half marathon after he completed his first marathon in January 2013. When I made the decision to set this goal, I had no idea how much I’d learn about myself in the process of training to run my first race, or the lessons that I’d learn about running in general.

1) You can push yourself to do things you never thought were possible. 

I started dancing when I was four, and I danced all the way through college. Because I’ve always been told that dancers can’t run, I never once thought about giving running a try. That is, until my husband inspired me with his completion of the Disney World Marathon. Seeing the time, focus, and dedication that he poured into training for and preparing to run his first marathon showed me that I could do the same. After years of sticking to the idea of running not being for me, I pushed the boundaries and proved to myself that I was able to do something that I never once thought was possible.

2) You can plan all you want, but training doesn’t always go as planned. 

No matter how much you plan or whose expert training plan you follow, something will likely happen that will interfere with your training. Life happens, like illness, injury, long hours at work, family events – you name it, something is bound to force you to adjust your training plan. While training for my first half marathon, I faced all of these but injury. Some weeks it meant moving my long run to a Friday evening in order to accommodate weekend activities, while other weeks it meant skipping a weekday run due to feeling run down or sick. Although I tend to get hard on myself for having to miss a weekday run here or there, in the long run, missing one or two runs won’t have an adverse effect on your overall training.

3) Just because you’re burning lots of calories doesn’t mean you can eat whatever you want. 

Training for a major race and burning lots of extra calories doesn’t mean you can stuff your face with whatever food you want to. In order to train efficiently, you have to properly fuel your body. Fueling your body with nutritious foods instead of junk will assist you in yielding the training results that you’re after. If weight loss isn’t your goal with long race training, then you’ll have to up your calorie intake to accommodate the extra calories that you’re burning. But if you eat poorly, then you’ll train poorly. The weeks that I have focused on eating clean, unprocessed foods have also been some of my best training weeks.

4) You can only measure your improvement in running speed against yourself, not against others. 

Every runner starts at a different starting point, and every runner at a race has been running for a different length of time. While it is very easy to measure your speed and success as a runner against others, it is critical to remember that every runner is different and has a different background. What might seem fast to one runner might seem slow to another, and that’s perfectly okay. Measuring yourself against others will only yield disappointment and likely lead to less movement toward reaching your own goals. Celebrate your individuality and your own accomplishments, but never measure your success against the speed and abilities of others.

5) Crossing the finish line of your first major race will give you adrenaline to register for more. 

When I registered for my first half marathon I never imagined signing up for more. But as I progressed through my training and discovered just how much I was enjoying it, I knew that I’d been bitten by the running bug. I signed up for my second half marathon about two months before I even crossed the finish line of my first, and now I’m signed up for my third and fourth half marathons! Running is addicting, and I can’t wait to see where my running continues to take me!

Now, I don't know about you, but I sure do wanna know where Kathryn's running takes her next! Follow along with me: From Dancing to Running is on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest, too.

Question: Think back to your days as a newbie runner. What is one of the very first things you learned about the sport? 


Kate Scott said...

I definitely learned that good shoes and a good sports bra are ALWAYS worth the money!

Kristen said...

Great post! I love these lessons, especially #4. I'm slow compared to most people but I love the fact that I'm slowly increasing in speed with each month that passes by. My first half was a Disney race as well and it was so much fun. Good luck on your upcoming half marathons!

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