Running sucks. I mean seriously. IT DOES. How does one turn off their brain long enough to get in a mile jog? For me it goes a little like this: Ok… I’ve got this… I’m most definitely gonna get a mile in today…(Start running)… I could just run an 800? I wonder how many steps it takes for me to get to the end of the street? I bet it’s at least a quarter of a mile when I get there… 100 meters??? Are you kidding me? There’s no way I can get this mile in.
That’s the thing about running. It’s hard. It’s not even the part about your legs burning or your lungs being unable to get you the necessary air to just BREATHE! It’s yourself. It’s the self doubt telling you that you probably can’t do it. That you probably don’t need to do it. Running has always been like that for me. Well, at least until late April.
Now don’t get me wrong. It still sucks…most days. I remember the first mile I ran on April 29th… I thought I might actually pass out. I started out wanting to run a mile and a half. I got to one and started walking. It didn’t feel good. It wasn’t like some miracle happened and I was enjoying it. I felt rather defeated. That’s the hardest part. Getting back up and running again after feeling slow. Feeling worthless. In that sense running is like life. You are going to have tough days, just like you will have tough runs. The key is get up and try again.
This whole adventure started with me looking at my weight. The number shocked me. Weight has never been something that has bothered me, much. I’ve always been the kid that could carry his weight well. I was the guy who “had to weigh less than that!” That’s probably the hardest part. I remember going to friends houses and being offered more food when I had clearly finished. I remember eating salad bar for weeks in high school because I didn’t feel great about my weight. I thought I needed to be the certain weight to look a certain way. I stopped caring about my weight. It always ended in disappointment. Now that didn’t mean I didn’t workout. I did, but the actual number no longer mattered to me. Well that was true until this day in April. It was no longer about looking a certain way. It was about being there for my family. Weight isn’t the only thing, but I was carrying too much. I wanted to be able to play with my son. I wanted to be able to grow old with my wife. I wanted to do all of the things that I had always enjoyed. Looking back, physical activities had gotten harder for me.
The start of this journey was tough. There were many mornings that I didn’t want to get up to run the mile. I might feel sore. I might be comfortable in bed. My mind was always working to stop me from getting up. I kept chopping. I kept adding a little more distance to my runs. I wanted to be able to run 2 miles 4 day s a week and a 5K a week. I’m happy to say that as of August 2020 I have continued that trek with success. There are weeks that are harder than others. There are also days that make you feel unbeatable. The best part is that my weight has started to drop as well. As of today I am down 25 pounds, though I still would like to lose another 40.
I’m still not an Olympic runner, but the following things have helped me in my quest for a better me:
I LOVE SHOES. This may seem like such a simple thing, but they matter. I know this all too well. About two years ago I dealt with the worst foot and ankle pain of my life, off and on for about two years. I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy. When I started looking for running shoes I went to Adidas first. For me, they have been the best brand for my feet. I’ll be honest, when I was looking I was looking for CHEAP. I had no belief that I would run more than a few times in these shoes. Again, my mind was telling me what I couldn’t do before even trying. I picked out this pair of Adidas and got to work. For me the shoes were more like a symbol of running. They are my specific running shoe. I know that when I get out of bed they will be waiting for me at the front door. They are comfortable as well. That matters. You think running sucks? Well, try it with some 5 year old worn out shoes. I can guarantee that your legs and feet will be toast. I’ve put 100+ miles on them running and another 150+ miles walking. That means it’s time to find a new pair. Though I am super excited to get a better pair, these Adidas will have a special place as they were my first running shoe as a “wannabe runner”.
I wasn’t really sure how to title this. It’s all the other stuff that you might buy or try out as a “runner”. Sometimes the gear just makes that dreadful run a little easier. I’ve found the following items as must haves:
- Balega Socks– These are freaking amazing. I mean it. They feel like a cloud wrapped around your foot. They are the king when it comes to running socks. I only have two pair, but I am obsessed! (Thanks Mike & Candace for the first pair!) Again, we’re talking about running. Your feet will take a pounding so why not make them as comfortable as possible. This also helps with the dreaded self doubt. If your feet feel good, it’s one less thing for your negative energy to attack.
- Nike Headband– I’ve always enjoyed the Nike headband while playing basketball. It kept my hair and sweat out of my eyes while playing ball. Well, it works just as good when running and it allows the top of your head the freedom to breathe. You don’t think about how warm your head gets until you wear a backwards hat a few times while running in the Texas heat. It also makes me feel like I actually might know what I’m doing.
- Short Shorts– I NEVER thought I would ever buy “shortish” shorts. I was a basketball player growing up and when I played the longer the better. The thing is though the short shorts let you be your best self when running. The two pair I own now are by far my favorite shorts to run in. They are extremely lightweight and comfortable to run in. Guys. Once you try this you will never go back to the short on the knee. It’s darn right annoying to feel the short on your knee while running. The two I got were from Adidas and Target.
This may seem like a duh moment, but I can tell you that I personally have been the person that walked off a “track” and ran that instead of actually knowing the exact distance I was running. Now if you are running on a treadmill or track it’s easy, but I think having a way to keep track of your miles is important. It’s super motivating as you get going. I started very simply with my iPhone and the Nike Running Club App. I just needed somewhere to tell me when to stop. At least that was my mindset at first. WHEN WILL THIS END!? Tracking may not seem like that big of a deal, but if you can start with small goals it’s an easy way to keep you honest and motivated.
I pretty quickly found that the guided runs worked well for me. I liked being able to have a coach tell me when I had gotten to a specific point. Without the coach I found myself staring at my device while running. Once again, that negative energy will quickly defeat you if you are continually staring at your mileage. Do you really want to know that you only moved .1 mile from the last time you looked? I didn’t think so.
I now use an Apple watch and find it even more freeing. It’s nice to be able to look and check my pace to ensure I am on track for my time. I am an extremely competitive person. Like throw the Candyland pieces if I lost, competitive. With running I needed something to try to “beat”. That competition was with the clock. My first mile jog was 10 minute plus. I remember thinking I might actually be the slowest person in the world. Over time I’ve been able to drop it to around 8:15 a mile. Sometimes that competitive drive can be a negative though. There have been mornings that my pace was slower. Maybe I didn’t sleep as well. Maybe I didn’t stretch good enough. To me that doesn’t matter. I see it as an L. That can be disheartening quick. Luckily, I’ve been able to reign it back in and take each run for what it is. A RUN. Don’t be too hard on yourself because the key is you did it. You got out of bed in the A.M. or you got your shoes on after a long day of work and moved. Get Moving!
I have no idea what kind of person can run without music. Are they the same people that don’t like peanut butter? AHHHH! Music is a language and when you are talking about working out it helps pace your body. Think about it. Your heart is a metronome (keeps time for a musician). If I need to go harder or run faster I need a song with a higher BPM (Beats per minute). That will naturally tell my body to pick it up. That’s what’s so cool about music. It has power.
For me, the music is my safe space. It is where I need to go when I am dreading each step or stride of my run. Sometimes that music may make my head bump. In turn, that gets my mind off of how tired I am. There are times I even dance, a little, when running.
I think it is important to continually update your running playlist as well. That doesn’t mean you need to get rid of songs, but I hope you are adding tracks you love along the way. Think of the songs that naturally lift your spirit. Think about the songs that you want to sing or rap along to. Those are the ones that will help you attack your ultimate goal. To finish your run.
I will have a blog post in two weeks talking about my specific running playlists and why I like each song. I hope you will share some songs with me that help you move!
I’m not talking about the support in those new shoes you’re about to pick up. I’m talking about a support system. For me that has been a variety of different way. Some may seem smaller then others, but to be honest they’ve all made the difference. They’ve helped me get out of bed on the early morning alarms. They’ve helped keep me honest about my mileage. They’ve helped me work to be a better me.
Support starts at home. Having my wife as a support system has made this all much easier. We started our workout journey together in April by buying matching running shoes. She was putting in mileage in the mornings and walking with our son, Knox. We would walk together at times as well. Each time extending our distance. That’s real. Being able to share success with her. That’s real. Her being proud of me. That’s real.
Near the beginning of this endeavor I decided to reach out to our cross country coach at school. She is a dear friend and I knew she would keep me honest. Once I put the information that I was running into her wheelhouse, she would check in. She would motivate me. She would deal with my shoulder blade complaints. She would encourage. I thank her for being such a supportive friend.
The last group I think of is just as important. It was many of you. It may have been when you liked a post about me running. it might have been a nice comment you added to that very post. It may have been a good job text back when I shared my updates, unsolicited mind you. You helped push me to this point and I thank you.
There are also many of you who have inspired me from the beginning. From just posting your workout, to a new place you rode your bike to. You have been a tremendous help. It is important that we all find that something that we can do to better our mind and body. Too many of us are stuck in a rut and just need a little push. Thank you for pushing me out of my comfort zone. Thank you for giving me a target to shoot for. Thank you for taking this non runner and turning him into a “”sorta” runner. My body thanks you.
Running still sucks…somedays, but it’s helped me find myself again. Get Moving!