Flashback to the beginning of August: the following, fleeting thought runs through my brain, I think I'd like to run a half marathon. And so it began. I set my sights on the Hands On House Half, a short 2 months away. As a personal trainer it's my job to push people beyond what they think they can do, but within the limits of what their body is able to do. I have to keep the client challenged to facilitate the changes they want to see. So, every once in a while I apply that go-getter mentality to my own life. Case and point: Training for a half marathon in less than 8 weeks. Here's some background for you: I run. A few years ago I used to only run. Side note: that's a terrible idea. I don't recommend it. In fact, I was forced to stop running because of a few serious overtraining injuries. Cross training is key. Now, I like to run on the days I'm not lifting or teaching spin. But aside from the Broad Street 10 mile run and a few 10K's over the years, I can't say I've ever had the inclination to run more than 4 or 5 miles at a time. 5 miles is long enough to give me a good sweat and for my legs to feel appropriately noodly. But 13.1 miles!? That's like my typical run...times 3!! What was I thinking?
I was thinking that sometimes it feels damn good to prove to yourself that you can do something you've never attempted to do before. So in an effort to make the most of this experience and see it through I did 3 things:
- Register. I had now spent 60 some odd dollars on a race, so I certainly wasn't going to back out and suffer that punishment.
- Recruit a friend. Misery loves company, right? There was no way I was going to commit to long runs without someone to complain with. I kid. Ok, not really.
- Make a plan. Thanks to my boss who is an ultra-runner and a few other coaching friends, I had a clear plan to follow. We started with two easy runs throughout the week, one of which was a tempo run at the track, followed by a long run on the weekends that incrementally increased over time (5 miles, 6, 7, 9.5, 10, etc.)
Carla (the sweet, innocent girl I dragged along with me) and I started our plan and stuck to it like glue. If we missed a run we made it up the next day. We met every weekend at 9am on the dot (the same time as our race) to push our bodies to new limits. Armed with Tylenol, bandaids and water we set out to do something we thought was impossible - using only our legs and our will power, we were going to run 13.1 miles (I should mention the fact that Carla was NOT a runner before this whole process, so, she rocks!)
Flash forward: Race day came. Saturday September 28th swiftly approached and we were ready. We had suffered a few aches and pains along the way, minor set backs, but we persevered. After 8 weeks of focused training, we weren't going to let anything stand in our way. And...we did it. We paced ourselves. We talked ourselves silly (real runners don't run with iPods), rehydrated when appropriate and pushed ourselves farther than we ever had before. And you know what? We felt pretty darn awesome when we crossed that finish line. No, I take that back, we felt really freaking awesome. We were proud, tired and sore but in that moment every second of hard work, training and discipline was worth it.
I crossed that baby off the bucket list, and you know what? I'm not ruling out the possibility that I'll run another half marathon in the future. Crazy, right!? Setting goals and exceeding your own expectations is an invigorating thing. This one body is all I have, and to show, both myself and those around me, what it can do is a powerful feeling. I know, I know...this is getting a little long and sappy, it's just a run, right? But that's the thing - it wasn't. It was a challenge that changed me.
So, what are you going to challenge yourself with today?
Eat well. Live well. Be well.