All good stories start at the beginning. This one starts on August 14th 2006 when I publicly stated my goal to run 1 mile before my wedding anniversary that year (which was about two weeks later). In that declaration I said:
“Last night Chris and I went for a run, and while he had no trouble with the effort at all, I had absolutely no desire to run the entire mile. My lungs didnâ€™t burn, my legs didnâ€™t give out, nor did my heart ache – rather I simply gave up. Call it a lack of motivation.
So Iâ€™ve decided to set the goal of being able to run (read: jog) an entire mile without letup before my 7th wedding anniversary (August 27th). Where Iâ€™ll go from there, who knows.”
A very important lesson lies within this post. The act of giving up due to lack of motivation is probably the main culprit to my challenge with weight and stamina. Keeping yourself motivated and constantly thinking “yes I can” instead of “no I can’t” will eventually allow you to achieve any goal. I believe that as much as I believe anything, especially now.
Well, my anniversary came that year and guess what? I did it. I ran an entire mile nonstop for the first time in my life (outside of High School) on August 27th 2006.
Since then I haven’t really tried to improve my running until this year. I ran now and then both outside and at the gym. I would always run about a mile or just a bit further. I remember running at the gym for a mile (12 laps on the indoor track) and I felt like there was nothing worse than that run. I play enough basketball to keep my cardio-abilities in fair shape. This year, however, I really wanted to start getting better at running longer distances.
Running an entire mile almost three years ago was a great goal. But I’ve come a long way since then and I needed new goals. My first goal was to get back into jogging at least a few miles. There is a trail near our apartment that runs about 1.5 miles. I did that a few times a week to get myself comfortable. But, I was getting into a rut. The run was a little too easy and deep down I knew it wasn’t challenging me anymore after a few weeks. So, one morning I woke up and decided to attempt a 5K (which is 3.1 miles). I didn’t do so great but I tried really hard. I had the exact same problem I did back in 2006. About 2.5 miles into the run I’d simply give up and start walking. My legs would feel okay, my lungs okay, but I just decided I didn’t want to run anymore. I have no idea why I’d stop.
This went on for a few more runs. Finally I decided to ask my friend Sam to run with me. Sam is a machine. I have no idea where his motivation comes from but it is a much deeper place than my motivation does. Time and time again he has surprised me with his stamina. He’s also doing great on the diet. Anyway – that 5K was the best 5K ever. Since then I’ve been able to run 5K without even thinking about stopping. I even find them satisfying to run. In my mind the 5K distance is the runners stroll. Some people walk next to a lake or river to calm down. Runners take an easy jog for 5K next to a lake or river to calm down. Perhaps my perception will change, but that is how I feel now.
My 5K time wasn’t so hot when I compared it to the abilities of others (something I know I shouldn’t do but I can’t help it). I asked Jeff, someone who has ran the New York Marathon, what I should do to help improve my time. He suggested running a bit further will help shorter run results. The next day, Sam and I ran 6 miles, double that of my previous distance record. We both felt incredible (our feet didn’t though). I couldn’t believe that I had jogged 6 miles without stopping. Looking back at the challenge it was to push my body to 1 mile made me think of how many other people go through the same breakthroughs. The same challenges. The same mental fights. If you’re one of those people – stick with it and know that time and effort are needed to break down those mental barriers. There is no silver bullet solution. Just wake up every-other morning and jog as far as you can – oh, and bring a friend because it helps a lot.
This morning we pushed a little harder. Sam knew of a nice spot to run on a trail in our area that wouldn’t hurt our feet as much as the asphalt did. Chris decided he’d join us. Turns out the distance for that run this morning was 9 miles! Tacking on another 3 miles onto my furthest distance ever run without stopping. Running for nine miles was both mentally and physically challenging for me. By the end I didn’t want to give up in my head, but my body didn’t want to run anymore. So I think my limit for the time being is running 9 miles. I think I’m going to bring my distance down to something manageable (like 5 miles) and just stay consistent until I feel I’m able to push the distance again. By year’s end I’d like to run a half marathon (or 13 miles). Where I’ll go from there, who knows.