Friends, I am so excited to have my running motivation back after more than a year of lots of lifting and very little running. For those of you who don't know, I ran my third half-marathon in October 2015. That race was brutal - my IT band seized up, my stomach was a wreck and I felt like I had the flu for hours post-race. Needless to say, I did not make my sub-2 hour time goal. Afterwards, I decided to take a break from running and focus on building muscle and strength in my body via weight lifting.
During the past year and a half, I've gained a lot of muscle and learned a ton about how to properly strengthen my body. I still don't have a six-pack (thanks baked goods), but I'm so much physically stronger than I ever have been. I'm a little more than halfway through a 100 days of sobriety challenge and during this alcohol fast I have started running more. After a few months of running, I decided I was ready to get back in the running game and signed up for the Rock n' Roll Virginia Beach Half Marathon (I even convinced two of my best friends to join me and run their first races!). I know training is going to be tough, but I'm pumped.
That being said, have you ever considered running a half marathon but are too afraid to pull the trigger? Well, I'm here to tell you to fear no more. In 2015, almost 2 million people finished half-marathons. I can tell you from experience (and from Running USA's 2015 stats) that those 2 million racers were made up of people from all age groups and a variety of fitness levels. If you read through some of Runner's World's "How Running Changed Me" series, you'll discover that many runners began running while they were overweight or when they had a lot more candles on their birthday cakes.
Signing up for your first half marathon (or second, third, fourth, or fiftieth) is pretty fantastic. However, if you're still not convinced, here are five reasons why you should run a half marathon.
- You can do it. I think the most important reason why you should run a half marathon is because you can do it. So often, we limit our life experiences by telling ourselves we "can't" do something. However, if you decide that you can run a half marathon, then you can run a half marathon. When I first started running seven years ago, I couldn't run a single mile. However, by remaining faithful and consistent to running, I slowly built my mileage so that I could run one, two, three, five, TEN, THIRTEEN miles without stopping. Plus, the half marathon distance and training is really manageable, even if you have a busy schedule.
- You'll develop mental discipline. I think the hardest part of running long distances is the mental discipline and endurance required. For me, my mind quits before my body does. Some days (ok, a lot of days) I feel really unmotivated and slogging through three miles is a test of my sanity. However, every time I push through those "I don't wanna" days, I feel so good and develop even more mental discipline. Plus, the tough days make the "I could run forever" days even more satisfying.
- You'll become fitter. A lot of people start running because they want to lose weight or get into better shape. By committing to and properly training for a half marathon, you will definitely whip your butt into shape. I want to emphasize the point of properly training for your race, because if you don't you will experience a world of pain on race day. Find a plan (there are free plans all over the Internet) that incorporates at least three days of running AND regular cross training. Cross training activities - yoga, weight lifting, biking, swimming - are important to your half marathon success because you need to ensure all of your muscles are strong in order to prevent injury. Also, never skip a long run because they're the most important runs of your week.
- Races are fun. I was so excited to find out that most half marathon races are really fun, especially the larger races with tons of supporters cheering you on. I love the Rock n' Roll series because the races feature live music along the courses and bring out a ton of spectators with motivational/funny signs to help you get through those especially rough miles. It's also fun to run with thousands of other people because they help keep you motivated and you feel a special bond, even if it's only for those 13.1 miles.
- The finish line is SO satisfying. The finish line of your race is the best thing ever. After weeks and weeks of training, and pushing your body toward that finish line while not giving up (even though you really wanted to), crossing the finish line floods your heart and mind with a huge sense of accomplishment and relief. Plus, you'll receive your race bling, snacks, and get to attend whatever post-race festivities are happening.
The bottom line is that if you're considering signing up for a half marathon, DO IT. Training will have its tough days and its "I am a complete badass" days. However, the mental discipline, fitness, and finish line satisfaction gained make it all completely worth it.
Isaiah 40:31 NLT
But those who trust in the LORD will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.
Half Marathon Photos, Left to Right: Indianapolis Women's Half Marathon 2012, YMCA Mother's Day Half Marathon (Illinois) 2013, Rock n' Roll Philadelphia 2015