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Becoming a Runner: One FBG Reader’s Journey

I didn’t really think anything of it until March rolled around again, and we were all back home for the run. My eldest sister and I were the only runners (I’m using that term loosely) in our family, so we lined ourselves up with the 10-minute milers and started trucking. My sister had a wristwatch to monitor our pace, and after what felt like a while, I asked her how long it had been. She said 22 minutes, and I remember doing a double-take. Twenty-two minutes? In a row? Me? I was so proud of myself (even though we stopped shortly after to slow down to a brisk walk). We finished the race in just over 46 minutes (not a particularly good time, but I’ll take it), and I realized that I could be a runner. I just needed to push myself to be one.

I can’t lie and say the Shamrock Run changed my life, that now I’m an avid runner, training for the Boston marathon. But when the JP Morgan Corporate Challenge came to Boston in June, I was pumped up and ready for those 3.5 miles. I made myself run the entire time, and by the end, I felt every inch. But the real victory was the next day. See, after the Shamrock Run, I woke up the next morning with tight calves and sore shoulders. Two days following the run (the second day is always the worst for me), I could barely move without pain shooting through some part of my body. Between March and June, I had dusted off my running shoes and spent more time on the treadmill, so the day after the Corporate Challenge, I was in tip-top shape. In fact, two days after, I went for another run! Halfway through that run (which I had dragged my boyfriend on with me), I had the realization that I wasn’t feeling any pain, and all but shouted to my guy about how not-sore I was.

I’ll be the first to admit that I still struggle with it from time to time. Some days I don’t feel like doing anything. On those days, the stationary bike is my best friend. Most of the time, I have to push myself to get on the treadmill. But once I’m on, my nerves are gone. I’m finding it’s more of a mental battle I face as a runner, but knowing that I actually can run for more than 20 consecutive minutes is what pushes me through that early workout slump.

These days, when I see runners around my neighborhood, I look at them with awe, instead of disdain. I wouldn’t call myself a “runner” yet (and who knows if I’ll live up to that admirable label), but I’m getting there. And I’m realizing that while the journey is half the fun, nothing beats the feeling you have when you cross the finish line. —Brigid McCarthy

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10 Comments
  1. Brigid says:

    My name is Brigid too, so I just had to read this story. Big congrats to getting over that initial hurdle and for sticking with it to train for Boston! Amazing! I remember when I first started running back in high school (I tagged along with a college student who I idolized on her runs), and building up to 20 minutes was HUGE. Once you get used to it though, you never go back 🙂

  2. Suzanne says:

    Brigid-Thanks for sharing your story! I have found myself very envious of the people running around the neighborhood or down main streets so early on a Saturday morning too. Isn’t a nice to enjoy running more than before?!

  3. Kari says:

    As I am sitting here reading your story I am just short of putting on my sneakers and heading out for a ‘jog’. I say ‘jog’ because to me that means short jogging stints with a lot of brisk walking mixed into it. I have been going on and on about starting to jog for a few weeks now and finally I thought this would be the day. I am a little far off the runner’s mark but a slow easy jog should be okay to start with. I also found myself wishing I could be a runner and maybe today will be a good day to start.
    Thank goodness I found your post-this has given me the kick up my behind to just go and get it done!

  4. Laura says:

    What a great article! I am basically in the same boat you are – I “started” running after a 5k with my boyfriend and his mother. I’m glad I’m not the only one it doesn’t come easy for :). I’m right there with you on the mental battle to make myself a runner. Thanks for sharing!

  5. L Marie says:

    I enjoyed your thoughts here and I am 9 days away from running my second 5K. I just wanted to share the following: “If you run, you are a runner. It doesn’t matter how fast or how far. It doesn’t matter if today is your first day or if you’ve been running for twenty years. There is no test to pass, no license to earn, no membership card to get. You just run.”
    –John Bingham

    Wishing you well…~L Marie

  6. Michele says:

    I enjoyed this article also! I am 42 and just started running – initially to support my 52 year old sister in her attempt at “couch potato to 5K”! I still am doing intervals – 6 mins run and 1 min walk for 5 rounds, and it will take me a while to get even better, but I don’t want to give up! I have just started pushing my body in the last year and a half when I began HIIT (High intensity interval training) in addition to more strength training – that really helped me with my endurance. I have always loved to do some kind of exercise but never really pushed myself – I always did the minimum! I told my husband that I love running because it is hard for me, and I’ve never been willing to do physically hard exercise in the past! I hope I can keep advancing – may never do a marathon or even a half, but for me to be running 30 mins with only a few 1 min walks here and there, is a huge accomplishment! Good luck to you – keep it up! Maybe we will be true ‘runners” someday – but I already feel like one to a degree!!!!

  7. Laura says:

    Back in high school and first year university I was running 10K easily and loving it. Then school and life started to get more complicated, and I completely fell off the boat. I started running again this summer, and every single day is tough for me, but I get through it by remembering how much I will love running again once I get over the initial hurdle of getting back into it. I’m only up to running 5 minutes before I need a walk break, but every extra second is worth it!

  8. Loved reading your journey. I used to see people running in my neighborhood and judgmental thoughts would run through my head about various things — he runs funny, or look at her clothes. I recognize now that those judgments were really just a sign of envy because they were doing something I wanted to do, but couldn’t seem to find the motivation.

    I’m still not a runner, but I’d like to be! And I’m making progress, because rather than judge the runners I see, I actually now get inspired by them and think they’re amazing!

  9. Faith says:

    I live in Orlando and work in the tourism industry and the folks that I watch get up daily on their vacation and run amaze me and inspire me. They make me want to become a runner….

  10. Sara says:

    I love this post. Congratulations on your goals and cheers to the others you have and or will set.

    I have always wanted to be a runner too. I am so envious of those who can just go outside and run. About three years ago I was doing the Couch to 5k program and loving it. I got to the last run of the program (week 9 day 3) and about 15 minutes into my run my right knee gave out. and I couldn’t push through the run. After seeing doctors and going to physical therapy I learned it wasn’t my knee but a weak core and IT Band issues. I basically gave up and figured it just wasn’t for me and yet every morning I would see the same guy in the same bright orange running shoes and dream that I could do that… run again.

    Fast forward to this year and after gaining 20lbs through stress and depression; I decided I wanted to run again. I found an 8week home program to strengthen my core and five weeks ago, I started the C25k program again. Fearful of my knees I have done a lot of education about my core and stretching my hips and I too yell to my husband that I am running pain free and how amazing that is. I run on the treadmill – with our weather and my long days at work it’s the only way I can get a run in but my goal is to move longer runs on the weekend outside. I am seriously contemplating signing up for a half marathon in April. The thought of running a half is both scary and full of exhilaration.