“I’m not a runner.” I’ve been told that countless times throughout my years of coaching. Ahhh, the elusive ‘runner’…..what exactly does that mean? Someone who only runs and doesn’t walk for exercise? Not even during a warm up? Someone who has completed a marathon? Someone who has completed a half marathon? Someone who can run a mile? Someone who can run if being chased? I’m sure you catch my drift in seeing that being a ‘runner’ can mean many things. The dictionary defines a runner as “one that runs.” That could include anyone, even you! Yes, you….the one who read the first sentence and thought ‘yep, that’s me; I’m not a runner.’
Maybe you want to be a ‘runner’. Maybe you don’t. Maybe you aren’t sure if it’s possible. Here’s the thing. If it’s something you’ve never done before, how do you know you won’t enjoy it? Of course learning something new can be difficult to navigate at first. It isn’t easy. Most people can’t just walk out of the door and run a 5K without practice. In order to try, you have to start. You need a plan. You have to tell yourself that you CAN. Once you’ve mastered the mindset and you are ready to train, let’s get you set up for success with a plan.
There are various ways to start exercising or training for a race. My favorite is to join a running club. Why? I strongly believe there is great value in having a community of people come together to work towards a common goal. The accountability, motivation and support you receive from being a part of a group is something you can’t get training by yourself. On the days that you are tired, unmotivated or just want to call it quits, you have a support group rallying behind you. You may give up on yourself at times, but it is much harder to give up on your training buddies who are cheering you on. Find a running club where you feel you best fit in. I personally coach for Fit4Mom, which is a fantastic support group for moms of all ages and stages of motherhood. What I love about coaching my running club is that it is stroller friendly, so the kiddos can be part of the fun if you need or want them to be! I also like that Fit4Mom offers the option to join run club and train virtually if needed. That way if you can’t meet up to train in person, you still have the support of a group via email and social media, but you follow the training runs independently. Do some research and find a group that best fits your needs and sign up.
Now that you are signed up, the fun (aka training) begins! My advice? Listen to your coach, put in the work, trust the process and get comfortable starting exactly where you are. Show up on group running days, even if you are nervous and don’t know anyone. Chances are, you will quickly find yourself looking forward to those days because they are a lot of fun! You meet new friends, get fresh air and have some much needed ‘you time’. Be sure to make the time during the week to get in your running or walking. You’ll find that over time, your endurance will increase and the mileage that once seemed daunting will become less difficult and you might actually start to enjoy it. This will not happen overnight; that is why your coaches want you to stay committed and follow the training plan! The varying distance and effort intensity you’ll see throughout your training plan will all aid you in becoming a stronger, faster runner/walker over time.
Most importantly, celebrate every milestone. You don’t need to be a marathoner to be a runner. Being a ‘runner’ encompasses so much more than the literal sense of the word. Don’t let words and phrases define you. Don’t put a cap on your abilities by telling yourself you aren’t something or that you CAN’T do something just because you aren’t there yet. Have you run from point A to point B? You are a runner. Have you walked a 5k? You are a runner. To me, a runner is someone who is working on their fitness goals regardless of if they run, walk, complete intervals or otherwise. It is a feeling, a goal, a sense of accomplishment. I don’t care how you cross the finish line….congratulations and welcome to the club. You are a RUNNER!