The Real Life of a Newbie Runner

Last year, I resolved to eventually run a half-marathon. This year, I’m actually going to do it.

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Back when I was in Sydney, I unexpectedly picked up running. I had always hated running. When they made us run the mile in high school? Torture. But I hated the high price of a gym membership more than I hated running. With the help of a friend, I was soon pounding away 5k’s regularly.

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And thus I was introduced to the weird world of running.

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I’m not just running, either– I’m training. After my return to Boston this January, I signed up for Boston’s Run To Remember, a half-marathon that takes place at the end of May. In Sydney, I ran whenever I was in the mood. Now, I have a schedule. I’ve had to push myself to greater and greater distances.

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Along the way, I’ve met a few surprises. I’m a noob to all this running stuff. I’ve always had an image of what a runner’s life is like…

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…but the reality is much different.

Mother Nature is cruel.

Photos of runners can be deceiving.

Outdoor Running Series

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Silhouette woman run under blue sky with clouds

For some reason, nobody ever told me how hard it is to run in bad weather. I became complacent in Sydney, where it’s always sunny and beautiful. Even in the winter, the weather sticks around 50 to 60 degrees. Imagine my shock when I walked out of the Boston-Logan airport upon my return in January, dressed in shorts and a tank top.

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There are many people who man up and run outside. I am not one of them. I run in my sport shorts from middle school and that free t-shirt I got from my university. I don’t have any fancy thermal running gear. When I tried to run outside, I was very uncomfortable.

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I’ve ended up running at my school’s gym, which has a miniature indoor running track. The track is only about 1/12 of a mile, though, so I have ran around that track literally hundreds of times.

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Thank goodness it’s spring!

Contrary to popular belief, not all runners are stick-thin athletic models.

Photos of runners can be deceiving.

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First of all, those expressions. They all look like they’re simultaneously running and achieving enlightenment. I, on the other hand, am a little less zen when I run.

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Everyone’s seen those hardcore runners in their neighborhoods, right? The ones all tricked-out in fancy running gear, with seemingly 0% body fat and rippling lean muscle.

Or maybe that’s just my neighborhood.

Either way, those runners gave me a false perception of what I would look like if I started running.

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But after running for several months, I still look like this:

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Even though I cross-train and watch my diet, I am not a toned, athletic model. Nope, I still look pretty much the same. All you other runners out there, what are your secrets?!

Shoes actually matter.

I’ve done many sports before, but I’ve never paid attention to my sneakers. Usually I’m clad in some cheap pair that I picked up at Marshall’s.

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However, as I’ve been running longer distances, this no longer seems like a good idea.

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Thus, I went to a sports store in Boston and wandered to the shoe department, which happened to be staffed by a long-time marathon runner.

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This marathon runner also happened to be quite enthusiastic about shoes.

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After trying on many, many shoes, I did successfully buy a new pair of sneakers. On that very day, I tried running in them.

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Who knew that sneakers could make such a difference?

I am now the weird breed.

Like I said before, I have never been a runner. I actually hated running. I was on my middle-school track team but only did long jump, never any running events. I played lacrosse and tennis and was always the slowest runner on the team. Runners were just an entirely different kind of people from me– or so I thought.

Now that I’m running, I’ve become that different kind of people. My friends react to me the same way that I used to react to runners.

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Then they go on to describe how much they hate running.

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I used to try to explain to people that I was the same way. I used to hate running. It’s a difficult sport to pick up if you’re out of shape. But the beauty of running is that anyone can do it, as long as the determination to train is there.

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Now, I just accept it.

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Because no matter how much I argue, people never believe that they can run too, just like believed about a year ago. It’s weird, being on the other side of it. If only they knew my good ol’ middle school track and field days!

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Despite all the pain, sweat, and tears, running is actually quite nice.

Don’t get me wrong. Running is exhausting. You’ll sweat. You’ll burn. You’ll wonder why you ever decided to do this in the first place.

And indeed, I’ve been wondering a lot about why I decided to do this. Running long distances is incredibly time-consuming. I get tired, and thirsty, and hungry.

But last weekend, Boston had one of its first good-weather weekends in a long time. The winter here is finally starting to break, and spring is starting to show through. Last weekend, then, I went running outside. My route took me along the Charles River Esplanade, a walkway along the river that looks like this:

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The sun was warm.

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There was a gentle breeze.

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Sailboats filled the river, taking advantage of our first true spring days.

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Yes, last weekend, I experienced it:

Outdoor Running Series

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Despite the difficulties and surprises of being a runner, it’s been rewarding. A few years ago, I could barely run a mile. Last weekend, I ran ten. Sure, I might not be the poster child of athleticism. Sure, maybe I run at a snail-like pace. But I can do it! I can run!

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It’s only going to get weirder when I run my first half-marathon in a few weeks. Coming soon!…too soon.

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Wish me luck! Because I’ll need loads of it.


15 thoughts on “The Real Life of a Newbie Runner

  1. Hahaha…great post! I’ve got to admit I’m one of those people who hates running…because well, I find it boring. But! I’ve got to say that I do see your point because instead of running, I power walk and that feeling that you get after a point is a bit hard to explain. A half marathon is still a bit hard for me though but I’ll try to see whether I can make it one day. Good luck for your next run!! 🙂

    • I hear power walking is great exercise! Honestly, I sometimes wonder if I should have picked that up instead– it’s a lot easier on the knees. As a walker, though, don’t you walk for extended periods of time? I have the same problem– how do you keep yourself from getting bored when walking or running for a long time?

      And, I bet you could do a half marathon! It’s been quite a challenge for me, as I’m sure it is for any first-timer. A lot of people will walk 5k’s or half-marathons instead of run, so that could also be an option. Good luck to you too, and thanks for reading! 🙂

      • Yes, it’s definitely easier on the knees which was one of the reasons why I started walking rather than running. It’s different because I push myself faster than normal walking pace in short bursts. So I definitely work out just as hard because my muscles are seriously aching after my workouts. It’s not as boring because I vary my routine. So I would push myself for 4-5 mins and then walk at a comfortable pace. So since I break it up, I focus during that moment and relax in the other. You can give it a try for some variety other than your running!!

        I’m definitely eyeing the thought of half marathon but I think I’ll boost up my fitness level a bit more first though…haha…I’ve not really been that consistent lately. 🙂

        • I see, I see! I’ve heard great things about interval running and walking– I should really pick that up. 😛 Plus I’ve read that interval training improves your speed!

  2. Vy, I am very impress with your running progress. It shows a lot of character and determination on your part and believe me, if you can run 10 miles then you can run 13 miles easily. Just reduce your normal pace by a minute or two per mile during the half marathon run and you are golden. The trick is to train at a harder pace but shorter distance and run the event at a slower pace that will allow you to run the longer distance.

    When I was training for my century ride (100 miles), the longest distance I had trained for before that event was only 68 miles. However, those 68 miles were done on hilly routes. On the day of the event, it was held on an easier and flatter route and I reduced the average speed that I normally train at by 1.5 mph during this ride. I had no trouble finishing that event and ended up riding 104 miles in about 6 hours 15 minutes.

    Good luck in your half-marathon.

    • I see, that’s very interesting. I hear that doing interval training can really improve your time. My primary goal has simply been to finish the marathon without collapsing, but since I’ve come this far, I should probably try to focus more on speed.

      Also, congrats on completing a century! That’s incredible!

  3. Wow! Sounds very good that you are enjoying running now. 😀
    I have always been a walker type myself and I want to start that again since there has been a looong brake because of reasons.

    My friend likes running more because she says walking is so slow. You can get from point A to point B faster if you run.
    That is one reason I would consider running as well. Heheh.

    Laughed a lot thanks to your comics again.
    Love your blog! 🙂

    • I have to say, I’m with your friend– one of the reasons I prefer running is that you can get your workout in a shorter amount of time. And you can cover so much more distance. Nowadays, on my long runs, I can see pretty much all of Boston!

      Walking is also great exercise, though. It’s up to personal preference!

      And, I’m glad you liked the post– thank you for reading! 🙂

      • Yep, and when you get to move you get more energy to do other stuff too.
        If you get on the move that is. xD

        Keep blogging. 😉

  4. When you get at the end of your journey, you may not enjoy as as much as the journey itself. Every step in the journey builds habit, habit builds character, and character builds success. Nothing is too difficult when you take the first step to travel thousands of miles.

    Oh, let me get off my philosophy and just to say congratulation on your lesson in running and hope you can apply this lesson to other difficult areas in life.

  5. Good luck!

    And your point about people not believing they can do something you can do… even though you were once like them. It’s so annoying, isn’t it?? I’ve felt that way about people in different contexts, like writing, or eating takoyaki.

    But that’s just people, isn’t it? They all have different journeys.

    • That’s true– everyone is different and has different comfort levels.
      Haha, I love your example of eating takoyaki! I know how you feel. I’ve spent a long time trying to convince some of my friends to try sushi to no avail. How can they not even try something that’s so delicious?!

  6. Pingback: Fascinating Friday Links #32 | Daily Moves and Grooves

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