Lessons From a First-Timer

I started running back in December.  Frankly, it started with a burning desire to reclaim my body from years of child-bearing, child-rearing and neglect.  I never thought I would actually enjoy it. Somewhere along the way, something changed.  Running has become less about wanting to change my body and more about the feeling of strength and power that I have after a run. I love that I feel healthier, more invigorated and less-stressed with each step.  More importantly, I love knowing that I am teaching my children valuable life lessons about physical fitness, working towards a goal and perseverance.

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On Sunday, I ran in my first-ever 5K – the Graffiti Run in Camden/Philadelphia. I finished in 27:28 and immediately began to wonder if the course was really 5K because that is way faster than I ever do on the treadmill. All you runners out there – is that normal? Regardless, I felt great after the run and thought I’d share my tips for others who are about to embark on their “first-time” too.

Pick Up Your Runner’s Packet Before Race Day: I got the emails from the Graffiti Run organizers telling me to go to packet pick-up on Saturday to avoid long lines on the race day. I even gave serious thought to going since the location they selected was only 15-20 minutes away. But, the time frame didn’t quite work with our Saturday activities. We spent the afternoon at the zoo and I was so tired when we got home. I was definitely way too tired to extricate myself from the couch at 5 PM and go get my stuff before they closed at 6 PM. Big mistake. I ended up waiting in line for over an hour to get my bib and shirt. Is this how all races are?? I will now do whatever it takes to get my registration materials before race day. Lesson learned.

Don’t Be Afraid To Go It Alone: The original plan was to run this race with someone else. That plan changed on Saturday when my running buddy decided she wasn’t ready, despite my offer to walk with her when she needed it. This almost derailed me.  It would have been so easy to skip the race – I had the perfect excuse. But, I made the decision to go and I am glad I did! If my friend was with me, I would have stayed with her and walked and ran at her pace. I would not have pushed myself physically and mentally to see what I could do. I walked away with a time of 27:28 and I am proud of that. Running alone did that for me.  When you run a race with friends, do you stay together or do you run at your own pace and meet up after? What is the runner’s etiquette?  I definitely want to run with friends in the future and I’d love to hear how your strategies for running with friends!

Pick A Good Soundtrack: Music motivates me. If I am running on empty, I tell myself to just make it through one more or two more songs and I usually make it over the hump. I don’t actually have a static running play list that I listen to – I like to be surprised along the way. My recent go-to running soundtrack is the Blurred Lines Pandora Station. It offers up a great mix of upbeat songs that put a smile on my face and a pep in my step. On this particular race day, Bruno Mars Treasure carried me to the finish line – love that song! What are your favorite running songs?

You Can Do It: Simply said, put all your fears aside, make like Nike and just do it! If you are not able to run the whole course, there is no shame in walking. You will feel so accomplished and strong and powerful when you cross that finish line. I promise.