This morning, I had the honor of serving as the 11-minute-mile pace group leader for a 4-mile kick-off run. Sometimes, it’s awesome to run fast and set a new record, but I have been taking it easy on the running front since my latest half marathon this past October. A run here, a run there – just for fun and to spend time with friends. In any case, I knew I’d be asking for trouble if I tried to pace the 9-minute-mile group, even though that’s pretty close to my regular running speed, so I asked for the 10 or 11 spot.
The course was hilly, and the morning was a little rainy. No complaints here – it’s January in Cleveland, and at 48 degrees, it was beautiful running weather. The hills build strength, and, whether you like running hills or not, they build mental endurance, too. Running at a comfortable pace, I hardly noticed I was running up a hill – sure, I was feeling it in my quads and knew I was running upwards, but speed and how hard you are pushing yourself affect your experience on a hill, and I was in my happy running place despite the extra hill work.
So? Me being in my happy running place is nothing new. I love to run – rather, I LOVE to run. I am not sure exactly when things changed for me – I used to think all runners were crazy (who would want to run when you could be doing, well, pretty much anything else?) – but I tend to switch hobbies and I’ve stuck with running for five years now. I think it was the moment I realized I COULD. That’s a powerful moment. Realizing you can is a game changer.
Five years ago, I started running on the treadmill for 30 seconds to a minute at a time – and by running, I mean jogging at 5.0 mph. If I was able to complete 10 run/walk intervals (1 minute running, 2 minutes walking) in a 30-minute treadmill session, that was fantastic. Over time, I was able to increase the speed as well as the time I could spend jogging before I needed to take a walking break. This was the beginning of my journey.
Whatever it is – from running a single mile without stopping to running a full marathon, or, applying this to other things in life, learning to cook or speak a new language…or whatever suits your fancy – it is such a good feeling to achieve something you once thought was impossible. It’s so important to start, if you have the desire, because who knows what you can achieve? More often than not, it’s my own preconceived notions that have been holding me back. I’m usually pleasantly surprised at how easy some things are once I get started, and I wonder why I waited so long.
Running at a more relaxed pace sounded heavenly when I agreed to help pace today’s run, and I was not disappointed. A change in pace gave me a new perspective and a chance to help other runners enjoy the run. Some things aren’t so easy – some things are quite tough and – I’ve been there – you wonder why you started. When that happens, just remember: running hills – and many other things – are much more manageable when you slow down.