My Love/Hate Relationship with Running
Up until the age of about 31 I absolutely HATED running; and if I'm 100% honest I still kind of do. The first 1-1.5 miles are the hardest for me, physically and mentally. But several years ago I realized I needed to get my shit together and get back in shape. Growing up I was always super athletic and played any sport I could. But as life tends to do, my health took a backseat to things like bills and work. So in 2015 I randomly decided to register for a half marathon that was 10 months away.
How I Got Started
Vacation Races, a Utah company, organizes 5K's and half marathons on the outskirts of national parks including Yellowstone, Grand Tetons, Joshua Tree, Great Smoky Mountains, and a lot more. I saw an ad on Facebook for the Yellowstone Half Marathon, and Yellowstone is my happy place so any excuse to get up there is one I will take. My two cousins that run and one of my best friends also wanted to do the race, so like most of my life altering decisions I said "fuck it" and registered. I used this plan to help get me ready, although I didn't follow it very well. What helped me the most, and what I still do when I run a race, is alternate between running and walking. I should also clarify that my definition of "running" is very loose: I average about a 14-15 minute mile. My only rule is that I can't stop moving. If I'm walking it can be at a snail's pace; if I'm running I just need to be going faster than a walk. When I was running the 2016 Dino 5K to prepare for the half, this mantra helped me run 1.5 miles straight for the first time since I was a teenager, and I am still proud of that. I ended up finishing the half marathon 13 minutes faster than I had planned, but that's a story for another post.
I definitely don't have a lot of fancy running equipment, mostly because I'm still working on slimming down and I don't want to invest in clothes that I'm just going to donate. Also because unless I'm actually training for an upcoming race I usually just run once a week or so. My most important piece of equipment is my shoes. Last fall I went to a running store and got fitted for a nice pair. My feet are wide AF and even the widest Nike and Asics two sizes bigger were too snug, so I went with the Brooks Adrenaline GTS 18. These shoes are AMAZING, I was basically Cinderella and the store employee was Prince Charming with my glass slipper. I didn't even need time to break them in. I also have insanely high arches and I do not need to wear inserts with these shoes.
When I was thinner I used to love running in Sugoi shorts, but shorts aren't as fun when your thighs rub together. Now I usually run in workout capris and a technical shirt. I have pretty large ta-ta's also, which makes sports bras a problem. Surprisingly my favorite so far is a Champion one I got from Target. I've recently started wearing compression socks to help with my plantar fasciitis and ankle pain and they've worked wonders.
Depending on the length of the run I may even bring some Honey Stinger energy gel to help keep me physically going. I always have my phone and headphones to keep me mentally going, with a pre-made playlist just for running.
CHAFING IS REAL. After my first half marathon I couldn't wear a bra for a week (which is a problem for me) because my sports bra rubbed the fucking skin off of my ribs. After my last half marathon this May I had the same issue around parts of my underwear line because I didn't lube up properly (TMI?) There are all sorts of anti-chafing creams and lotions you can spend way too much money on to prevent chafing, but the best and cheapest thing is regular stick antiperspirant. Anytime I use this I don't get any kind of chafing or rubbing!
Injuries, like the Wu-Tang Clan, ain't nothing to fuck with. I have bad knees so I always tape them up before a run. I also went through a bout of plantar fasciitis and thank Zeus it healed because that was painful and for some people it never goes away. The best thing you can do if you're injured is see a doctor and not over do it. If you push yourself too hard while healing then you'll be laid up for even longer and possibly never run again. Yes I have bad knees and I run, but the condition with my knees will get better the more weight I lose and the stronger my surrounding leg muscles are. Taping them makes the kneecap move how it should, so as long as I do that then I'm good to go.
So Why do I Run?
If you're thinking that all of this sounds horrible, you're right. Partially. There is a large aspect of running that straight up sucks. I remember in my first half marathon, the girl that got 2nd place overall and 1st place female (finished in about 1:30) had a shirt on that said "I HATE RUNNING" and I think of that shirt all the time. But what happens when I run is like therapy, it's almost meditative. Struggling with anxiety, depression, anger, etc, is much more manageable for me when I add running in addition to other treatments. When I go for a run I spend the first 30 minutes fighting with myself to not quit and turn back. Almost everything in my head is telling me to stop, and it never really goes away during the whole run. But it quiets down by mile 2, and gets quieter and quieter until I can hardly even hear it by mile 4. Miles 5 and 6 are my golden zones. My brain either moves so fast I think about everything I possibly can, or I think about absolutely nothing. Whichever it chooses to do that day the result is the same; I come out the other side refreshed, less anxious, less angry, feeling accomplished, and feeling proud of myself.
Now all I need to do is find the motivation to do it more often!