” I am not a runner. “
I can’t tell you how many times those words have left my mouth. Yet, this past weekend, I ran my second ever 5k. At first glance, those statements seem to be very conflicting. The honest truth is that I don’t consider myself a runner. I don’t love it, I don’t do it consistently, and I am not that serious about it. However, this summer I picked it up to see if I could even give it a go. For more on the start of this all and my first 5k, you can read the article here : Running the Race.
After completing the first run, which I felt proud of for finishing but awful because I didn’t run nearly as fast as I thought, I found renewed energy to get better. So I kept running for a few weeks. But then I quickly discovered that running without a goal was not any fun for me. So I stopped running and went back to fun workouts. Then came the opportunity on campus to come alongside an RD here and support them in the adoption process by running a 5k.
As a social worker, adoption is a cause I am passionate about. I got the chance to shadow in the field of foster care and adoption, and it was eye opening. Seeing the many parallels between adoption and the Gospel, how it is a tangible, hands on expression of God’s love for us, created this strong desire in me to support adoption and encourage it. I think adoption is one of the coolest things, to get to show a child that they are loved no matter what. This quote summarizes it well :
“It is important to realize we adopt not because we are rescuers. No. We adopt because we are rescued.” – David Platt
So this race offered two significant things : 1) motivation to start running again and get healthy 2) the chance to run for something that matters.
I decided to focus on actually training for this next 5k, determined to be in better running condition this time around. While overall the run did not actually go that much better (note to self : cross country courses are WAY different than streets + treadmills, so train on the actual surface more), I did get in better shape. Along the way I picked up better tricks that made running more bearable. Here are a few of them:
- A plan. Find a training plan and stick to it. Honestly, this is hard and I did not perfectly follow it. But going off of it much more than before really paid off. I used the Nike + Running App, which I highly recommend. Not only does it give you a training plan based on your 5k goals/running level, but you can check things off each day and see how much you’re running. It’s built in motivation.
- Accountability. Post about your running victories to celebrate progress along the way. Even if you feel inadequate, looking back on how far you’ve come is both encouraging and you find the support of others. Plus, it motivates you to keep going since now others know you are on this journey. Also, signing up with a friend makes you both ten times more likely to run it and work hard beforehand.
- A playlist. Music can make all the difference. If you can get lost in the lyrics and beats, it makes your brain less likely to focus on the pain in your legs. Create a good playlist of some favorites. If you really want to mix it up, try the Spotify Running option. It chooses music based on your Spotify selections and the pace you are running at, which makes it great for powering through.
- Alternative workouts. Cross training with activities you enjoy not only makes things more fun, but it also works out different muscle groups and gets you in better overall shape. Some favorites of mine are Zumba and Tabata (interval) type workouts. Also, stretching helps your muscles, so lots of that (yoga is also great). I love the Run Ready Yoga by Ellie Goulding on the Nike Training Club app. It’s a six minute warm up that gets you loose and relaxed.
- A list of goals. These are super important. Have an idea in mind of things you hope to accomplish. Don’t be afraid to dream big, but also break big goals down into smaller, more realistic steps. That way you feel good no matter what. An example would be setting a finish time for the race. Have a big end goal, but maybe have another, slightly less demanding time. Allow yourself to be human and just enjoy it.
- Awareness. Listen to your body. Know how to pace yourself. Learn to balance pushing through it and treating your body well. It is always more important to be healthy than fast. Oh and pro tip : if you’re prone to shin splints, ice packs and calf compression sleeves are a LIFESAVER.
Overall, the biggest thing I have learned is to just enjoy it (or the fact that you did it). Celebrate your victories, because you got out there, and that alone is an accomplishment. For me, this race wasn’t ideal, but in the end, it was about WHY I was running it. The chance to be involved in something so great as adoption was completely worth every rough step of the training and actual race.
Stay tuned for my next post, about the events that led me to sign up for TWO 5ks on the same day…