Running became a part of my life not too long ago. I was never a very sporty person. I tried playing volleyball but never learned to serve properly so I felt less competent than other players and decided to do something else. I tried synchronized swimming, but the problem for me was staying underwater for a long period of time, so I switched to regular swimming. I liked it but my “career” as a swimmer lasted for only about two years and then I stopped that as well…
You get the picture – I was never interested in sports and I didn’t do well in it. I was more of a book worm, nerd, study-oriented person.
Luckily, I soon found out how important being physically (not just mentally) active is. I started working out regularly and I was either regular at the gym or regularly doing youtube workout videos (which are great and free – so, no excuses! I wrote about great video exercises here – it is in Serbian).
Running came spontaneously. I became surrounded by people who run. Be careful who you surround yourself with because it is true that you become like five people you spend the most time with. Choose them wisely
At first, my reaction to all those runners was: I don’t know how and why you do that – what’s the point of running and torturing yourself for long periods of time? It is not until you start and get hooked that you learn the answer to that question.
I started slow. My first run was around 7,5km long and my only goal was not to stop. No matter how slow you go, just keep running – an okay first goal, but sometimes it’s what you tell yourself during longer runs later on as well 🙂
A few weeks later I did my first 10k race. It was November, it was cold and it started snowing. Not an ideal first race but that’s what made it memorable.
There is a balance in the Universe, so the weather for my first half-marathon was ideal. It was a cold, summer night and I prefer running after the sun goes down. I guess that is why I did not have a crisis after about 15th kilometer that everyone was telling me about.
Many shorter races in the country and abroad led me to my second half-marathon in Amsterdam, which was an amazing experience. I did not see any race that well organized and with such great support all the way. They had people cheering during the entire race. Every kilometer there was a band, DJ or music playing. The positive atmosphere and energy during the races are amazing and something you must experience in order to understand.
I did two trail races (mountain run). It involves a lot of ups and downs, it is harder but more fun and interesting than regular running.
I am an amateur, far away from a fast or a great runner. Many friends of mine train and run a lot more than I do. Still, it is an activity that brought so many good things to my life and my health which is why I am writing this post. Hopefully, someone will be motivated to start a new healthy habit and join us on the next race.
My goal is to be consistent and enjoy races. It is not to be faster than anyone or to chase a certain time – it is just to run consistently (2 or 3 times per week) and to enjoy long races the entire way. What’s the point if you don’t enjoy it?
Here are a few reasons why you should join us on the next race:
It is free, easy and for everyone
You just need to have a good pair of running shoes. By this I mean shoes for running that are 2 sizes bigger than your regular shoe size. Trust me, I learned this the harder way. With the right shoes, you protect your knees and your toenails
You don’t need any preparation nor special skill, just will. Okay, you can also get the watch later to track your speed and heart rate – because if you don’t measure you can’t improve.
The hardest part is that first step, but once you start you know you must go on until the end. You start with a shorter distance and then make them longer. Some people like to run in a group – it might be easier for beginners, especially since when running alone you can easily stop and give up. When running in a group, others will keep you moving.
I prefer running alone because I keep my own pace and have no pressure from others. I can focus on myself, my thoughts and not be bothered if someone is faster or slower than me.
It helps you build mental strength
While running, you are always fighting yourself. Many people say that running is more mental ability than physical and even though being fit is very important, long distances you often finish because of your mental strength. It is a great mental exercise – you are trying to beat yourself, be better than you were yesterday and finish the run without stopping, without giving up.
You learn to push yourself. You learn how to talk to yourself and eliminate every negative thought and replace it with a positive one because you need to finish the run. There is no room for negativity. You replace every I can’t with I can and I will – there is no other option. This is very useful for life in general.
You build a mindset that says that everything is possible
I remember the quote saying: A marathon is not just an athletic discipline. It is a mindset that tells you that everything is possible. That’s why people run – it is hard every time, you are struggling every time. Eventually, you learn that you can go on long after you think you can’t. (this is true for life in general)
In the end, when you cross that finish line – you know that there are no limits and you think: If I did this – I can do anything.
It teaches you that consistency is the key
It teaches you discipline (and discipline is #1 skill for success in life and career). You can run a lot in one day, but if you don’t do it regularly, you won’t be able to finish long races. There are no shortcuts, no skipping, no leaving it for tomorrow. Every day counts, every run counts. Results are built only with consistency.
The feeling after run is priceless
I can’t wait to finish the race even before I start You will feel the endorphins your body is releasing and you will want that feeling again and again. It might feel very hard at some points while you are running, but once you are done, it is all well worth it. You can’t help but smile, you feel great, alive, you feel like you accomplished something very big and important – and you did. You did yourself, your body and health a huge favor. As Chalene Johnson says – exercise only on the days you want to improve your mood.
There are many useful resources online. Check out NY Times guide how to start running or Guardian stories about running. You might decide to create art with your running paths like this guy. I also found this very useful article – for all of you who are just starting there is a system you can follow – How to start running.
Feel free to share your experience, say hi if you see me at some race, and if you like my posts you can subscribe to my newsletter here.