I've recently had quite a few people ask how my training is going so I wanted to take some time this week to talk about that and the things I've learned along the way. I've really only been “training” since October but it would take an entire book to tell you everything I've learned thus far. I can tell you most of what I've learned has absolutely nothing to do with the physical activity of running itself.
When I got serious about all this last year and started really focusing on running, I was running/walking on my own anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour, 3 - 4 ish days a week. I knew I would be joining a running group starting in January so my main goal was to more or less be able to run and not look like a total fool my first day with the training group. Holidays came and of course eating and socializing took precedent over everything else so I pretty much did nothing the second half of December. Then the new year came and so did the informational meeting for the training group put on by Gazelle Sports. Let me tell you, I have never wanted to run out of a room so fast in my life. There were probably 40 people there, all of whom seemed to know each other and all of whom clearly knew how to run. Don’t get me wrong, they all seemed like very nice people but I was nothing short of petrified. . .like literally almost had to leave and throw up. As confident as I am now, it took me right back to grade school when you had to run with everyone and I was always the last one done with other kids laughing at me (clearly I have unresolved issues from the past. .who knew).
Regardless, I filled the paperwork out right after the meeting and signed myself up. Face your fears head on right? I had a boss not too long ago that was huge on pushing people past their comfort zones, and I think I finally get it. You really will never get anywhere if you don’t. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with being comfortable and happy where you are but if you have bigger dreams and that feeling like you could do more or be more, you just have to do it. It’s scary hard, and apparently makes me physically ill, but beyond worth it.
The night before our first group run I barely slept I was so nervous. It sounds ridiculous that I was so scared to simply run with other people, but I was, and I know there are a lot of other people who understand that. I got to our meeting spot around 7:45 (I still don’t understand why these things can’t start at noon) and was so grateful to see a pace leader with a sign that said 12 minutes and up. I started looking for the “and up” group and to my surprise I wasn't the only one! There were 4 or 5 of us and our amazing leader Katie who instantly put me at ease. For some reason I thought it would be a group of people who run 5 minute miles and go 10 miles a day but it wasn't at all. Even the people who were significantly faster than us were so kind and supportive. We did a 3 mile run that day and I left thinking “that was fun!” and “maybe I can actually do this!” As much as I've told myself I can do this since the beginning, there’s always that stupid voice in your head that says you can’t. I don’t know that I've shut that voice up for good, but it’s well on it’s way out.
We've had one other group run so far and while it wasn't easy (run to the hill, run up the hill, down the hill, up the hill, down the hill, up, down, up down, then oh yeah, still gotta run back) I enjoyed it. I enjoyed the time I spent with new friends, I enjoyed the feeling of pushing myself, I enjoyed hearing other people tell me good job, and telling others the same. After just 2 runs, I can say with 100% certainty I would not be able to reach my goal of running the 25K on my own. I need the help of other people and there is nothing wrong with that.
I really can’t say thank you enough to Bridget, Michelle, and Cortney from Gazelle and to Francine with the Grand Rapids Running Club. I know you probably don’t think much of it but the emails and kind words hear and there have really meant a lot to me. If anyone out there is thinking of joining the LZ Michigan 25K team let us know. And if you think you can’t . . .tell that little voice to shut up and just do it.