Sometimes I still giggle when I call myself a runner. If you would have asked me to go for a run 10 years ago, I would have laughed out loud and told you how much I hated running.
It wasn’t that I didn’t like exercise. I’ve always been extremely active. In high school, I played competitive volleyball and softball and loved it. During the first practices though, I loathed the running part of conditioning. (Any LHS peeps reading remember running laps around the stairs? I hated those).
During college, I continued to play intramural volleyball and softball and worked out on a fairly regular basis. It was never running though. Either team sports or something like the elliptical machine – anything that was NOT running. Next came my love affair with biking – a step into the solo sport arena. I still vowed to never be a runner. Those people were crazy.
Then a turn of events. It all started with an agreement. I talked my friend Jackie into doing a 300 mile bike tour as long as I did a 5K (5 days vs. 30 minutes? Nice). That was a huge deal for me. I know there are many people out there that can just go out and run 3 miles even if they haven’t run in a long time or ever. I’m not one of those people. It took me a while (and a lot of encouragement) to get up to the 3.1 mile mark. BUT, I did it! It was tough, but it was a great accomplishment. Once it was over, I did not feel the need to run any further. I did continue to run the shorter distances as a challenge, but I never really loved it or felt that runner’s high that I so longingly wanted.
Fast forward to 2007. Two key events happened this year to get me to run longer distances.
The first was an injury. I was starting to have a lot of knee pain during and after my runs. I went to a psychical therapist to have it checked out and get some suggestions on how to fix it. He spent quite a bit of time watching me run and having me do all sorts of exercises. He gave me some suggestions and then said something I will never forget.
“You will never be a runner”.
He didn’t know me well. I never wanted to be a runner until he said those six words. There is nothing that gets me going more than someone telling me I can’t do something. Just thinking about that meeting right now has the hair on my neck standing up.
Around the same time this occurred, we were propositioned by our good friends, BK and Carin. They are serious runners. Carin has run multiple marathons and BK had just completed his first. They were looking for a new marathon to run and were considering one in San Francisco. They asked us if we wanted to come along for the trip. I answered immediately. “Sure, we’d love to go and cheer you on!” That wasn’t really what they had in mind. They wanted us to consider running the full or half marathon. “What? Crazy talk! That is way more than a 5k!”. After much discussion between Brette and I, somehow we talked ourselves into it with a little shoving prodding from our friends. I liked that it would be in San Francisco where the weather was cooler and we were both amped about running out and back over the Golden Gate Bridge. It was during the training for that event that made me start to like running.
The first thing I did was find a new physical therapist. :) She helped me so much. I told her I was going to be doing a half marathon in 11 months and she was supportive and encouraging from the start. I basically had to re-learn how to run because my gait was all messed up. This was a major mental challenge, but as the weeks went by, it became easier and easier. I was also doing specific exercises to strengthen my quads and my glutes. Once our official training plan started I was good to go. Somewhere in my training I began to look forward to running. Pretty soon a 5 mile run was no big deal – in fact, I thought it was easy. I started to zone out and use running as a stress reliever. Who knew?
The San Francisco half marathon was a great experience and I was beaming crossing the finish line. The rush is so hard to explain unless you’ve experienced it. That was the hardest I had ever pushed myself physically and I cannot wait to experience it again. I can’t thank BK and Carin enough for their encouragement. I know we were a tough sell but they were very persistent and I love them for that.
It wasn’t until after that race that I started calling myself a runner. I’ve never been a very fast runner so I felt like I had to prove myself before snagging that label. My opinion on this has changed. If you run (no matter what speed) on a regular basis and enjoy the benefits, I consider you a runner. If you have multiple pairs of running shoes in your closet, you are a runner. If you look forward to the next issue of Runner’s World, you are a runner. If you’ve experienced thigh chaffing, runner’s trots, or nipple bleeds, you are a runner.
That brings me to today. I’m currently signed up for 3 races this fall.
The main race I’m training for is the Mankato Half Marathon on October 23rd. It’s a first year event and it has a special place in my heart already. I grew up in Mankato and my parents still live there. My parents know that I do all sorts of runs and crazy bike tours and I think they might think I’m a little nuts. I know they are proud of me, but I don’t think they really get what a big deal events like this are since they’ve never seen one. Not this time. I’m so excited for them to see me run and most importantly see me finish! I’m also excited to run through my home town on a course that is on a gradual downhill almost the entire way. Fast course? Yes please.
Race #2 is the Monster Dash 10 mile. It’s one week after the half marathon. This one is more for fun (I hope). I’ve done the Monster Dash 5K many years and it’s such a blast! They’ve recently added a 10 mile and a half marathon option. The course is in my stomping grounds on trails I run all the time. What makes it even more fun is that a lot of people dress in costume! I’m planning on wearing a costume and running with some friends and just having a good time; not worrying about time.
Race #3 is the Diva Dash 5 mile on November 13th. I’m running this with my friend Carin to celebrate her birthday. Only a runner picks a race to run to celebrate her birthday! :) I’m just excited I’m now one of her running friends. This one is also for fun – unless I get full of piss and vinegar and want to go all out. I have a lot of time to think about that one.
What am I doing for training? Well…training. I’m not one to just wing it when it comes to something like a half marathon.
Since Hal Higdon was so good to me the first time around, I’m using his intermediate half marathon training program as a guide this time with a few tweaks. I’m running about 4 times a week. Each week includes a speed workout, an easy run, a pace run and a long run. In addition to running, I’ve been going to yoga twice a week and heading out on an occasional bike ride. Adding in speed work is a big change for me. I want to run a PR (personal record) at the Mankato Half which means I need to run faster. In order to run faster that day, I need to practice running faster. I can already tell it’s paying off. I really enjoy the speed workouts – especially the sprinting. My body is starting to realize it’s able to move faster than it has before. My goal is to finish in 2 hours and 11 minutes which is an average pace of 10 minutes per mile. This would be 10 minutes faster than in San Francisco. I will be walking on air if I can make that happen.
I’ve been training with my friend Willa who is also doing the Mankato Half and when he’s willing, I’ve been running some with Brette (who claims he is also running Mankato). It’s been so much fun and I feel myself getting stronger.
Then I hit a snag this past week.
My ankle started to bug me. Then it started to bug me more. Then it started to go up the inside of my calf. It hurt most when I was running and right afterward. This could not be good. On my long run this past Sunday it was at it’s worst and I was worried.
After much research I have self diagnosed myself with Ankle Tendinitis. All the symptoms match. So, I’m doing what I would tell someone else to do. I’m resting and taking care of it. I’m taking the week off of running (which is killing me). I’m icing 3-4 times per day, staying off of it as much as possible and incorporating ibuprofen into my diet to help with inflamation. I’m really hoping that does the trick and I’ll be back running next week. I’m trying not to let it get to me too much, but it’s hard. Running is such a mental game and not running is even worse!
Have any of you had an injury like this? Any advice?
So, now that you know way more than you ever wanted to about my journey to being a runner, you can look forward to more posts about my training ups and downs and race recaps that might even inspire you. I’m convinced there is an athlete in all of us…waiting for the right opportunity.