This piece was originally posted on Madhuri Manohar's personal blog, Ponder N' Wonder (check it out here). Thanks, Madhuri for giving us permission to re-post your awesome article on our own blog.
Exactly a week from today, I’ll be a half-marathoner. I believe a lot in positive affirmations. So, yes, it’s happening! Whether I run or walk or crawl or fly (or go on a medical stretcher), I’ll be at the finish line of the Philly Love Run 2017 this Sunday. Most of you know how my training is going so far. If not, you can check out my letters to the future half-marathoner in me right here, here, here and here.
Now that I’m in Taper Ville, I seem to have a lot of free time for reflections. It all takes me back to September 2016. I had been trying to take up running for at least a year and a half. Yes, a year and a half!!! But, I still wasn’t in a place to consistently run even a mile without a break. That’s when I read this quote during some mindless aimless internet surfing (Hey…it paid off).
I needed something to frighten the wits out of me and get me going. Without much thought and total impulsivity, I signed up for a half-marathon. I can’t run a mile, but sure, let’s do 13.1! From September to December, I tried various online training plans, various running apps, etc. But, I couldn’t get past it for more than 10 days. I can’t even count the several times I pressed ‘reset my training plan’ on my run training app. This whole ‘let’s do a half-marathon‘ thing seemed to be moving farther and farther away from reality and into my dreams. I had only one option left, only one; and that was to join a training group. I knew ‘Charm City Run‘ existed in Baltimore, but nothing beyond that. Apparently, they were the 2016 running store of the year. So, why not check them out, thought I. To be honest, I was really anxious about joining a running group. But, I knew that was my only hope. So, I had to give it a try to find out.
Showed up on Day 1. We had to run 5 miles. It seemed way too hilarious for me. Sure, 5 miles. Not a problem at all. We started running. Within 1000 feet, everyone was nowhere to be found in sight. At this point, I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. But, I tried to get 5 miles done by foot (No points for guessing that I walked almost all all of that distance). I was the last one to show up back at the store. I was very confident that there isn’t going to be a Day 2. But, my day job as a research scientist has trained me to experiment anything at least three times before totally throwing in the towel. Day 2, I showed up. Surprisingly, I liked it!! Okay, let’s try Day 3. That went alright. And before long, I knew that even if I decided not to run my half-marathon, I wasn’t going to quit on my group. It was something to be a part of it.
1. Runners are good people: If ever you feel like you’re losing faith in humanity, the first place you go to is a running community. They are one of the sweetest and kindest people I have ever met (Thanks partly to all those endorphins kicking in). And mind you, I have had the good fortune of being around some genuinely nice people all my life.
2. Go for the camaraderie and support: I can’t even tell you how you how many times I showed up for our training run thinking, “haha, is my couch completely nuts? 8 miles isn’t happening today!“. Spoiler alert: It did happen….EVERY SINGLE TIME!!! Just having people believe you can do it and cheering your name out loud, when deep down you have the firm conviction that you can’t, makes a humongous impact! They help you realize your true “limits”.
3. They’re the ones with all the ‘know hows’: You would think running is all about putting one foot in front of the other. Literally yes! But, little did I know that words like strides, fartleks, tempo, pace, splits, cadence and other running jargon had some real meaning to them. Having someone teach you the ‘tips and tricks’ of running can definitely help you fly along.
4. It builds mental toughness whilst keeping you mentally light: Somehow knowing that there are people counting on you bolsters your mental grit to get your day’s run done. Contrary to popular belief, running, akin to anything else in life is all mental! Your body is on autopilot once your ‘can’t do‘ switch in your brain is turned off (Words of wisdom from my CCR coach when I had one of my ‘It ain’t happening‘ moments). Also, knowing that there are others who are torturing themselves with 18 miles of running makes it easier for you to run 12 miles. Like there’s a difference.
5. It’s a humbling learning experience: There may be days when everything goes south, more often than not. There will be days when you finish last. There will be days of real struggle and only self-doubt. There will be days of regrets and pain. But, being in it all together allows you to have greater acceptance of the present moment. It’s all about putting your best foot forward…..every single day!
TAKE HOME LESSON
JOIN A RUNNING COMMUNITY!
THERE’S NO LOOKING BACK!
Disclaimer: I paid for my training and received no compensation from Charm City Run to write this post. I REALLY benefitted from training with them and wanted to share it with you all.
Feeling inspired to take the next step of your own running journey? Click below to learn about upcoming Charm City Run training groups targeting all distances from 5Ks to ultra marathons.
About the Author: Madhuri Manohar
Madhuri is a twenty something gal from India (on a technicality), who's lived most of her life in Oman, a small heavenly paradise of the Middle East. Baltimore aka Charm City is what she calls home now. A confused research scientist by day, in her free time, she loves exploring her creative side with some calligraphy handwriting, artwork and poetry. Her love for music is fulfilled by jamming on her harmonium (an accordian-like wind instrument) and singing her lungs out, to scare off her neighbors. She loves to catch a good book on life and philosophy and she balances it out with some heavy Netflix binge watching. Hanging out with some good friends with some good food (and with loads of coffee, of course), alongside loads of giggles is what she would call a perfect day! She started her blog Ponder 'N' Wonder to share her little knowledge on life and the world around while she still seeks answers each day, to the world within. Head over to her blog for more of such babbling.