It’s coming up: my first half marathon. That’s 13.1 miles, or 21 kilometers, and way more time and distance that I’ve ever logged before. But how did I find the time and motivation to run more? Was it a New Year’s resolution that actually stuck? As they say, the devil is in the details. Here’s how I prioritized my life, decided to go for the things I truly wanted, and embarked on a huge new fitness goal.
Ok, so, I’m not that new to running. It was never quite my thing, but I recall many weekend laps on the track at Purdue University’s Co-Rec. I’d jog a little, walk a little, and kind of always wonder why people LOVED this running thing. It always felt a bit like my trachea was burning and my mental toughness couldn’t outlast my labored breathing. Still, I kept coming back to running, year after year.
My first real motivator to run more was actually a Les Mills fitness class called Body Attack. I’d see the advertisement posters at my gym, with powerful-looking athletes on them, and I finally signed up for a live class. There’s no backing out when you’ve already committed to the class, right? I was scared out of my mind to actually show up and do this painful-sounding exercise class! What I discovered though was a super-supportive group, an encouraging instructor full of modification ideas for us, and I had a BLAST working on my power, strength, and endurance. A little bit of running was even built right into the exercise tracks in class. I developed a routine of attendance, and with Body Attack as my only training, I finally ran my first 5k race at a Turkey Trot race on Thanksgiving of 2016. It would just be another 3 years before I actually ran a 5k with no walking 🤣
Look at that, I own two whole medals now. I’m a true runner, right? Well, in my quest to see more of the world, I decided running was the way to go. When I did “The Big Run” a few summers ago I learned about Nuun hydration products, and from Nuun I learned about Vacation Races, and oh those races were calling to me! Vacation Races typically take place at national parks, and there was one I had my eye on last year in Joshua Tree. Of course, thanks to COVID and California restrictions, that race didn’t happen. But seriously, that race was a half marathon, at night, in the DARK, and there was no way I could to that, right??
I really needed to get over the self-doubt though. You see, I used to live in 29 Palms, right next to Joshua Tree, and racing there would be like taking a trip to the ‘home’ I hadn’t seen since 2008! Actually, since Super Bowl weekend of 2008, so that makes almost exactly 13 years today that I’ve been away from the 29 Palms/Joshua Tree area. Here’s a lovely blurry photo of me hiking at an oasis in 2007. Gotta love the quality of old photos, right?
Running a race at Joshua Tree just wasn’t going to happen in 2020, and who knows about 2021. When my husband and I moved to Las Vegas, we did it so we could enjoy more adventures in the great outdoors again, but the pandemic and the busy-ness of finishing grad school, starting a new job, and getting our first new-construction home sure kept us from traveling and adventuring like we wanted. You probably know how the excuses pile up, and the months and years tick by without you accomplishing that fun thing you wanted to do. I was fed up with waiting for my life to get exciting again, so I decided to force myself to go for it! I signed up for another nearby Vacation Race, booked our Airbnb, and made a commitment to do something challenging and fun.
Instead of overthinking it and preparing forever, I jumped in feet-first to a new running goal. See how that worked? In the absence of an accountability partner, I became accountable to myself.
In order to make my goal achievable, I needed an actual training plan. Had you asked me before, I would have probably guessed you needed to keep running 13 miles in order to prepare for a half marathon. Thankfully that’s not at all the case! I used my Kindle Unlimited subscription to download an e-book about half marathons and it led me to an easy-to-understand training plan. Day by day, week by week I have specific workouts to complete. Every other week my long runs get even harder, but overall the plan is broken down into very achievable distance goals. My family now knows to expect my regular afternoon workouts, and I’ve memorized the sunset times so I can quickly log out of my home office and hit the road or trails before dark.
I’m not gonna lie, it’s been tough. After all, days 1 & 2 of my new training program were filled with unwelcome snow. Thankfully, getting outdoors to see those beautiful mountains again just feels so right!
So here’s the takeaway message: get fed up. Get fed up with waiting to achieve your goals, get fed up with waiting to do what’s important to you, get fed up with waiting to be faster or stronger, and get fed up waiting to be the person you want to be. And make SMART goals. Heck, I have absolutely no illusions that I’m going to run this whole race. I’ll tell you what, if I’m there and COVID doesn’t cancel this race, I will be getting my finisher’s medal, whether I have to run, walk, hobble, or skip.
I’m through with waiting to do things in the future, I’ve set a deadline and made a commitment to myself. What are you ready to accomplish??
Don’t forget, you might even have the perfect little exercise partner at home next to you, ready to help you conquer the world ❤