By Lili L
Ah, those three little words every new athlete wants to hear: You belong here.
If you are a novice runner, the prospect of completing a 5k, 10k, half marathon or (gulp!) a full marathon can be extremely daunting. You may feel that you don’t know where to begin, or maybe you can’t even visualize EVER completing any of those race distances. Well, I’m here to tell you that you can. Do you know why? Because you belong here.
When it comes to taking on a new challenge, my favorite go-to phrase is “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” Just take it day by day. You belong here.
First, think about why you signed up. Did you feel ready to take on a new challenge? Is this a part of an overall health improvement plan for you? Did you lose a bet (I hope not)! Whatever the motivation, you’re in it now and there’s no turning back. Why not make it the most positive experience you can?
If you already have a friend or a trainer helping to see you through to race day, take advantage of this great resource and ask as many questions as you want. There is no question “too dumb” to ask. If you’re going after this by yourself, congratulations for striking out on your own! Luckily in this day and age, you can find a ton of online training plans to fit your lifestyle. The most important thing to keep in mind when choosing a training plan is to make sure you have the amount of time allotted in the plan to see it through. Do NOT think you can skip to Week 16 from Week 4 because you signed up for a too long of a distance in the time you have to train. Most races will let you scale back the distance for which you signed up (e.g. switching to the 5k from the 10k). It’s NOT failure- it’s just the smartest thing to do for your body. It’s better to feel great after run/walking a shorter distance than to get injured trying to speed up a process that issupposed to take a while. This whole “race” thing is just that- a process. A process you are supposed to enjoy, including inevitable gains and setbacks. If you do it on your own timeline, you’ll begin to feel it inside: I belong here.
So, pick your battles. Choose a distance that works for you, and set realistic expectations. In time, you will grow stronger, you’ll learn what works for your body, and you will cross that finish line. Because you belong here.