If someone had told me I would be working on becoming a runner two years ago, I would have laughed and called them certifiably insane. Me? A runner? I barely have enough time to manage my kids, work, and a robust television rotation.
Here I am, two years later, a mother runner.
Becoming a runner is much like becoming a mother. You have no idea what you’re doing, make many mistakes, and eventually, find your stride.
As a first-time mom, you have no idea what to expect. Entering labor and delivery with expectations, hopes, and hopefully not with a detailed birth plan. The same went for me with my first 5K this year. I signed up, having no idea what to expect. Will I finish? Be able to run the whole time? See other people around me all lap me and laugh at my misfortune?
Fortunately, much like having a baby, while not everything went to plan, I accomplished my goal and could hang up my first “bib.” I was hooked, wanted more, and signed up for several more races.
Becoming a runner, much like moving from the infant to the toddler stage, comes with making mistakes. Sometimes, like I found out, you get hurt.
After getting the hang of my 5K race, I wanted to be faster. My goal was to run a race under 30 minutes. This is around a nine-and-a-half-minute mile. Through the summer into the fall, I was getting consistently faster but also having to rest longer with hip and knee pain. My fastest 5K, 30:04, came with me rounding the last bend in the course and searing hip pain.
I messed up. I got too cocky. It was like the time I left the house with a potty-training two-year-old without spare pants.
I had to take a month off to not move with pain. Come to find out, sometimes slower is better. After I rehabbed my IT band and read up on how to train, I learned that 80% of your runs should be slow and easy, and only 20% should be hard. Listening to your body and pacing yourself is how you get faster.
Now, like a mom of school-age kids learning her stride, I’m learning to take the good with the bad. Sure the kids whined the whole time on the special trip to the park, but later that night, all snuggled up, they thanked me for a fun day. Now, sure I run a slower 5K, but I run pain-free and have fun along the way talking with people.
My year of becoming a runner reflects a lot of the hardship and growth I had to do to become a mother. You come out of the gate sprinting, learn (sometimes the hard way) that you need to slow down, and eventually, learn the stride that works for you. Then you can enjoy yourself.
Next year I signed up for longer distances. A half marathon, a 10k. Slower, steadier, enjoying the journey. I still think a marathon is a little crazy. Then again, maybe two years from now, I’ll be certifiable once again.