This week, exactly a year ago...changed my life in more ways than I could have asked for. After some aimless internet surfing on goals and dreaming big and all those kind of high funda stuff, a momentary lapse in my usual low esteem self, led me to sign up for my first half-marathon. I can’t run a mile consistently yet, sure, let’s do a half-marathon.
If you’re expecting this story to be like the movies, where I went out for my first run and felt like I conquered the world, then you came to the wrong place. For nearly three months, every training run sucked the energy and soul out of me. It SO WASN’T easy. Not to mention times when I regretted signing up. The end of this story involves me finishing my first half-marathon beaming with joy. But, that story is irrelevant. It was just the beginning. At that finish line, a new person was born.
Ever since then, I’ve been trying to spread the running joy. It took me a good whole year of tears and regrets, triumphs and joy to find out what this whole fuss around this running thing was. But even today, for the most part, all my real life friends are non-runners. One common feedback that I’ve received after my first half-marathon was that they would love to get started on running. But, that sentence is always followed by a slew of “buts”.
“But, I am super slow.”
“But, I haven’t run since high school. I don’t think I can run that fast.”
“But, I lose my breath after 5 minutes and then start walking.”
Oh gosh! That’s a huge problem. Darn it… But, is it really? Let’s talk about this aspect of ‘speed’. Contrary to popular belief, running has nothing to do with how fast you can run. Say what? Racing does, but running doesn’t.
Let's address those previous "but" statements:
No one expects you to be fast except you: It’s wonderful to have goals to be a fast runner and aim to run x min/miles. But, always remember, running is only a competition against you and only YOU. It’s called PR aka Personal Record for a reason. No one will care if you ran a 6 min/mile or 12 min/mile, in the same sense, that you won’t care about them either. Sure, we’ll talk about how fast someone ran, either in awe or out of jealousy, but at the end, you’ll be working only towards bettering yourself up.
Relearn your childhood grit: Remember when you were a baby…Never mind… I don’t think anyone remembers that. But, if you ask your mom, you were born unable to keep your head in position. You slowly progressed to being able to flop on your tummy, then you learned to push yourself up and crawl, then you learned to stand up and only after all that did you learn how to walk. Running is similar! Nothing comes to you overnight. It takes hell lot of perseverance, tears, tries, giving ups, trying again, to be even able to run your first ever goal – say a mile non-stop. Do you recall the story of the hare and the tortoise? Even the tortoise reached the finish line ultimately. All it had to do was keep moving.
Join a group if you have no clue: Take that advice from me, someone who was really intimidated to join a running group due to fear of being judged for being super slow, not able to catch up with people, being the loner in most group runs, etc etc. It still makes a HUGE difference to join a running group. You can see people who are well ahead of the curve and that all that’s needed to keep your aspiration alive. Once mentally you’re attuned to your goal, physically, the body just becomes a slave to your mind.
That’s all I have to say about running (that’s a lie). As always, we runners LOVE talking about running and giving all the advice we have even if you didn’t ask. So, just imagine, if you did ask! We would love for you to join us, even for the deadly slowest run with you, if it means that we’ll get another soul hooked into this amazing lifestyle. Remember, speed matters as much as you make it matter. Running is for joy. Lace up your shoes and keep that happiness high!
About the Author: Madhuri Manohar
Madhuri is a twenty something gal from India (on a technicality), who's lived most of her life in Oman, a small heavenly paradise of the Middle East. Baltimore aka Charm City is what she calls home now. A confused research scientist by day, in her free time, she loves exploring her creative side with some calligraphy handwriting, artwork and poetry. Her love for music is fulfilled by jamming on her harmonium (an accordian-like wind instrument) and singing her lungs out, to scare off her neighbors. She loves to catch a good book on life and philosophy and she balances it out with some heavy Netflix binge watching. Hanging out with some good friends with some good food (and with loads of coffee, of course), alongside loads of giggles is what she would call a perfect day! She started her blog Ponder 'N' Wonder to share her little knowledge on life and the world around while she still seeks answers each day, to the world within. Head over to her blog for more of such babbling.