My first road race and how i got there
Running gives opportunity
My story, my achievement
What is it that really makes you feel good about yourself? What is an achievement? I don't know the answer to either of these questions but i do know that my first ever 5km run made me feel great and it was like i had won a gold medal at the olympics when i came over the finish line.
The strange thing is that i ended up running a 10k before the 5 because there were no 5's. Both were fun and just as important to me. Why! Because against all odds i did it, i won over my own fears and criticisms.
Finishing any race was and still is a brilliant achievement for me because i hated running and never ever believed that i would be able to do so , It was as true as you can get to the old saying that your achievements come one step at a time !
Are you thinking about doing your first run? I guess you are or you wouldn't be reading this! Running is not for everyone but those who find their way to the sports shop for new shoes mean business. I can only share my experience and quite happy to do that.
If you do read on i will tell you my story in a way that i hope gives you encouragement to continue and believe in yourself. It is only you that can do this and no matter how many people tell you you can, it is only you that can make you believe yourself.
Whoever said that running is putting your best foot forward and then the other one next had a point but it took oooooh so much more than that to get this body going.
I soon found out that running wasn't just movement of the legs and feet it took a whole load of mental preparations too. You will argue with yourself, you will give pep talks and even convince yourself that you really can do this, meanwhile that little voice is yelling, "shut up and sit down!" " Go to the cupboard grab some chocolate and watch a film." Getting your bod into those running tights and running out into a cold winters night to train takes a lot of bottle! You need to be tough on yourself and you need to be committed. Without that commitment you are going nowhere fast.
I never ever thought i would ever be able to run down the street let alone a 5km rack, my husband had other thoughts and he convinced me that i could, but like i said, he could not do it for me.
I gave in and tried to convince my brain that this was ok. I even threw the chocolate in the bin, i was committed and backing down wasn't an option. I had secretly always admired people who could run and i loved being on the sideline cheering my husband and others on in the Oslo marathon. The atmosphere at one of these events is electric and i got caught up in the whole excitement of it all. Definitely worth going to one of these big events to spectate first.
I took my first big step one late autumn evening , it was cold and i was very quickly dripping with sweat, bright red and wheezing like a 40 a day cigarette smoker, i didn't even smoke. I knew i was really out of condition but my trainers felt like wellie boots with tractor treads on them and my whole body like a 50 ton rucksack. I didn't want to tell my husband that i only made it to the postboxes 400 meters away ( most of that was walked too ) So i nonchalantly walked in, sat down and went " Whoooo, that was a good run! ) He didn't say anything but i knew he had probably been spying from behind the curtain and seeing himself laughing.
Well the moral of that story is that at least i tried.
I didn't really want to ever go out again but i had made a promise and to keep face i did four days later. Big smile! "i'm off then" To the reply, "wait a minute i'll come with you….. OH NO! what could i say? He was very kind, he ran with me to the postboxes and said " There you can run 400meters without stopping" I didn't even have the strength to throw abuse back……..rightie ho…..will be seeing you soon was my reply as he sped off into the future. I don't know if i was disgusted or what but my heart and adrenalin were pumping and i found the "I'll show you matey "attitude, i ran another 400 meters and that felt good. Not to push it too much i walked half the way back and found the energy and will to run the rest home.
I didn't run again for 5 days and one day i really wanted to get out and try again. This time it went better, i did the famous walk run training . We are lucky enough to have a walk path with street lights at even distances apart, so i walked between two sets and ran one. Before i knew it i had covered one and a half km and that would make three by the time i returned. There was no coughing and wheezing.
I stuck to this method for the following three weeks three nights a week. To my amazement i was then covering a total of five kilometers, not very quickly but i was making the desired distance.
The next step was to run between two poles and walk between one.
By adjusting my pace this way i was soon running for one km at a time without walking.
There were no 5km runs where i lived in January or February but i really believe that with this technique i could have done one.
I kept on training for another two months in this fashion until i was eventually covering 8 km three times a week.
My husband gave me lots of encouragement and ran with me the whole way at least twice a week which was an amazing feeling, we were doing something together that we both enjoyed and respected. I knew he was much better at running than i was but it didn't matter because training is not carried out at race pace anyway.
Although it is fun running with someone else because it keeps the motivation up i have to admit sometimes i like to get out there and just run on my own. This way i put no pressure on myself i just run for the absolute fun of it, i get lost in my own thoughts and before i know it i am back home again.
My first race eventually came around and it was not a 5k but a 10k. I was petrified.
I really didn't like the feeling of standing on that start line alone. My husband had entered too but he was up front with all the big boys. As i waited my heart was pounding, people were laughing , joking, jumping up and down. I was sure i was going to throw up. Then out of the blue my hubby was standing in front of me…..couldn't let you start on your own on your first race…..i was overwhelmed and this made my heart beat even faster. No time for soppy stuff here , the gun went off and the 8000 bodies started to hurl forward. I gave him a big smile and he shouted " Don't forget to start your Garmin!!!" We were off , the first part was an uphill for about half a km i was so pumped with adrenalin that i took it like a March hare. Suddenly i felt a dunk in my back, my husband saying " What the heck are you doing keep this pace up and you will kill yourself" I think it was the fastest i had ever run in my life and ever will. I did slow down and paced myself nicely. It was very very hard at times but i didn't stop. That run was really special to me as it is still my personal best time ever for a 10k. It wasn't fast for many but i did it in under one hour and that to me was fantastic.
My husband came in about ten minutes before me and he missed my victory, he had really expected me to finish ten minutes later which was the biggest compliment of my life. Here i was 49 years old that summer and running my first ever race. I was very proud of myself and it was great to see my husbands reaction at having talked me into doing this.
Today, I run because I love it…somehow, between the wheezing first run and my last half marathon i developed a love for this sport that i was hated or correctly put, was afraid of. I must admit there are times that i run less than others and half heartedy but i never go more than a week without some type of run.
We have found a new lifestyle and try to find a new venue somewhere n the world at least once a year. This gives us a special holiday and something to look forward to together.
Running your first race is a great achievement but sometimes you will encounter injuries along the way. I got a bit too enthusiastic to say the least along the way and have unfortunately had several of these typical running ailments.
I will probably at one point write about those too.
The best policy is to try and be wise, stay safe and injury free. If you want to stay running for many years compete against yourself and not others, unless your dream is to be among the top ten finishers, of course…..that is up to you.
So here’s the trick and my little tuppence with of advice… the more you do it, the easier it becomes. Keep positive and believe in yourself.
Set goals that are achievable but dream a little too. You don't always have to have a personal best time but more importantly to continue running you need to stay injury free. Run at the pace you are comfortable with don't hurt too much.
Something that might be good to remember:
When you are racing you will have extra adrenalin and your mental state usually does change from training mode to race mode. You will automatically go faster even though your last training before the race made you feel like you couldn't go 5 minutes let alone half an hour an hour or two if need be. Every other runner around you is experiencing the same thing, they all want to finish and they want to finish in the best possible time. Most of them will have trained for this and regardless of their ability they will be hitting it on max effort. If you feel like giving up, look around and say " I can keep this pace for one more minute" Keep self talking until you cross that line. You have worked for this and you know you can do it!
Finally try not to use someone else's training plan, get one made up especially for you, if you keep up with your own limitations you will make it.
Good luck to anyone embarking on their first races and if you read this thank you.