Posted on 18 December 2010.
Be patient and let the running come to you.
… as long as it is “aged with tender loving care.”
I am often approached by beginner runners with questions on how to get faster, how to run longer, what to wear during runs or races, what to eat, etc. The main questions are usually on the topics of how to run faster and how to run for longer distances. The answer is, there are no tricks or shortcuts. It takes time to develop speed and endurance. To improve speed one does have to fine tune speed work sessions into the mix, and with endurance one does have to consistently incorporate long runs into a running regime. But all this requires time, consistency and patience. It won’t happen over night. Not even close, in most cases.
In the Beginning
I started running after I graduated from Purdue University in May 2000. I can’t recall exactly why, but I think it was out of boredom. I had always been very active, but never a runner. So one day, in early summer 2000, I thought I’d start running. I ran for about two minutes, and walked for about five minutes or so. I’m not sure because I didn’t buy a running watch for another six years.
So I kept up this attempt at running for longer periods of time. I remember, vividly, how difficult at first the breathing was for me. I realized very quickly that I had to build up my lung capacity to sustain this ‘running thing’ for longer periods of time. I kept at it.
Racing Here and There
I ran a few 5ks, and actually finished my first one in just under 25 minutes. I kept running. Still no running watch, and I can’t even remember what shoes I had or how often I changed them, or how many miles I ran at a time or at what pace. I just kept running.
In October 2004 I registered for my first half marathon. I didn’t know anything about half marathons and the farthest distance I had ever run was somewhere between 7-9 miles, I guessed. I joined two other girls who were training for the New York City Marathon on one of their long runs. It was a few weeks before the Asheville Half Marathon, the half that I registered for, and I ran 16 miles with the two girls. It was hard, very hard, but I felt good.
I ran my first half marathon, an extremely hilly Asheville Half Marathon, in 1:53:55. The race organizers didn’t give out finishers medals then, but I didn’t even think about that fact until years later. And, really, it didn’t matter.
I waited almost a year before I ran my next race (not for any particular reason, I just did), which was the Fireball Moonlite Classic 5k on July 3, 2005, which I finished in 22:10. After that I ran a few races here and there, but mostly I just ran. And ran. And ran. Oh, and I finally bought a running watch in 2006.
Kickin’ It Into High Gear
After giving birth to my son in March 2008, I was itching to get back in shape. As soon as I got the much-anticipated ‘OK’ from my doctor, I started running again. My first run 6 weeks after delivery lasted only 15 minutes, the next was around 28 minutes, and so on. I ran the Providence Heart and Sole 5 Miler about two months after I gave birth, then the Lexington Medical Center Governor’s Cup 8k a few months later. In March 2009, nine years after I started running and 5 years after my first half marathon, I ran my second half marathon, the Knoxville Half.
I started running more races, but it wasn’t until January 2010 that I started logging my weekly mileage. I bought a Garmin in March, ran four more half marathons and started training for my first full marathon … this all occurred 10 years after I first started running.
Moral Of The Story
Be patient, but keep it up! As a friend and running mentor once told me: “Don’t force running. Let the running come to you.” It may not happen how and when you want it to, but be patient and stick to it. Believe me, you will be pleasantly surprised and rewarded for your patience and hard work!