Every muscle in my legs hurt. It was all I could do to place one foot in front of the other to move forward. I had come twenty five miles but still had 1.2 more. I had hit “the wall.” I had heard many runners speak of this feeling but this was my first experience. I felt as if everything in my physical body wanted to quit and I had to rely on my mental toughness to power through and push my muscles beyond what I felt they were capable of. This was the point where I hated running again.
This wasn’t the first time I hated running. When I was in Junior High and even as a freshman in High School I was on the Cross Country team. I was a decent runner but was never into it enough to excel. When I made the Basketball team, running became a means to an end. It was no longer something I enjoyed. I ran in shorter spurts to get down court for defense. Running as exercise became relegated to a short amount of time called “hell week” to get prepared for basketball and I hated it.
After High School, my running disappeared. I was focused on my studies through college and medical school and had little exercise. This extended into my residency after I got married. I would have small stints of starting that would last for a few weeks but it never lasted. I gained 25 pounds and was the heaviest I had ever been.
I finally moved back to Auburn after I got a job with my Uncle. He had the great idea that we should do a 5K that our office was sponsoring. I didn’t train and it was horrible. It sparked something though. It showed me I was not practicing what I preached to my patients on a daily basis. I had to change. Shortly after I joined my uncle in his running. I started out with a very short distance (about a quarter mile around a pond). Slowly I progressed and we signed up for another 5K. This time I was ready and it was actually enjoyable. From there I was hooked.
I went on to run my first 10K. My wife’s family then decided to all run a half marathon and while I was timid, I did it. My mind then justified that I had already done the training for half of a marathon so progressing to a full would not be that much more. The training was rough with running 4 times a week up to 20 miles at a time, but I had become addicted and actually enjoyed it.
There are plenty of personal reasons I run, but it is even backed up by science. The most recent study on running was published in March of this year in Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases. The study found that running dropped a person’s risk of premature death by up to 40 percent! This study done at the Cooper Institute in Texas also revealed that a typical runner would spend less than six months of actual running time over their adult life, but can live 3.2 years longer. Essentially for every hour you run, you live almost 7 hours longer. Doesn’t that sound totally worth it?
Back to the marathon. When we left above I was at a point where I was hating running again. I didn’t want to do it anymore. But my mind pushed through. I was so tired I couldn’t run but I willed my legs to keep moving to edge me slowly towards the finish line in a slow walk. As I got closer and could hear and see the growing crowd in front of the finish line, my strength was renewed. I started running again and even with my slow pace the finish line came into view and I sped up. The pain was gone! I finished in a sprint. I had done it! I had completed 26.2 miles! My love of running returned.
This was less than 2 years after I had taken up running again. I had progressed from the quarter mile lap around the pond in the park to a marathon. Running had become and will continue to be a part of me. Not only is it good for my body, I can unequivocally say it’s good for my mind and spirit. Some of my greatest thinking is done on the road. I feel closest to God when I am on the road. Perhaps some of this is because I am an introvert, but I believe this can translate to everybody.
I would recommend that if you are able, you should take up walking or running. Steve Prefontaine, one of the best runners ever is quoted as saying, “To give anything less than your best, is to sacrifice the gift.” When translated to running, this means that if you are able to run, you should. Running is a gift that should be used and can benefit you greatly.
You do not need to run a marathon. You just need to start out slow, it can be as little as 1 lap around a track or less. I would highly recommend the app C25K for android or ios if you are starting out. This stands for couch to 5K. It slowly walks you through a process of walking intermixed with running and slowly progresses to a 5K. Hopefully this encourages you to start. For those just starting to run, sign up for a race! A 5K is a good place to start and can be found anywhere. Click here for a website that makes finding one easy. This can be a great motivation to put in some time training. If you are a seasoned runner, try to step it up even more. Maybe it’s time to go for that half or full marathon (or beyond). Whatever it is, (to borrow a line from Nike) just do it! Write your goal or personal win in the comments below. Just know I’m in your corner and rooting for you. YOU CAN DO IT!
Amazon Affiliate Links for my running gear (I get a small return if you click here and buy something):
Altra Men’s Olympus 2 Trail Running Shoe
Outdoor Research Running Hat
New Balance Running Socks
Asics running tights (it get’s cold here!)
New Balance Running Shirt
Asics running shorts