By: Forrest Ross, CFP©
When I started running two years ago it wasn’t because I had any grand goals or motivation. I really just wanted to stay in shape and be healthy (and make sure that my pants would still fit). I started slowly and eventually built up to running in 5ks the first year and then 10ks the second year. Then one day, after a little more than a year of running, I decided that I needed a bigger goal. So I signed up for my first half marathon. Here are some of things that I learned during the training process.
Enjoy the Journey
When I ran cross country in high school, it wasn’t because I liked running. I did it mainly to get and stay in shape for the sports that a really enjoyed; basketball and baseball. So when I began running regularly after the age of 50 I really wasn’t sure what to expect. But I found out that running can actually be fun. Sure it can be work and it can be painful at times (especially during an injury), but for the most part I have found running to be very enjoyable.
Along the way I learned that I needed to change my focus. Instead of just fixating on “what’s my time,” I shifted my attention to enjoying the scenery, nature, and other things during my run. This made me more relaxed and comfortable during and after my runs. It became more of a journey instead of a “race.”
Celebrate the Little Victories
Another thing that I found was that I needed to give myself credit and praise for all of the little milestones along the way. I realized that finally conquering that big hill on my running route, completing my first 10k or my first 10 mile run were all reasons to celebrate. It’s good to appreciate the little victories along the way, because those help lead you to your bigger goals.
Find Your Motivation
There were days when I didn’t feel like running and times during a long run when I felt like giving up. So I needed to find motivation to keep myself going. While staying in shape was an initial motivator for me, it really wasn’t enough to keep me going during some of the more difficult mental and physical training days.
One day during a run I recognized that being a third generation descendant of German immigrant farmers, I would be the first member of my immediate family that would be running a half marathon. It was then that I realized that I wasn’t just running for myself, but for my whole family. All of the hardworking ancestors and family members that came before me were all an important part of making my journey possible. Somehow, I found that very emotional and motivational.
It Pays to Have Big Goals
When I signed up for the half marathon, the longest run that I had completed was 6.5 miles. The idea of finishing a 13.1 mile half marathon race was almost unimaginable and really quite scary. Only crazy people run that far. But I knew that if I didn’t sign up for a race and commit to it, then it would never get done. So I took the plunge and after six months of training and dedication, with lots of love and support from my family, I was able to complete the half marathon under my goal time.
Whenever you can complete a big goal like that it gives you such a feeling of personal accomplishment and being blessed. What is next for me? I truly don’t know. Maybe another half marathon next year so I can try to improve my finish time. Time will tell. But I still say that those people who run full marathons are “crazy.”