If you told me a decade ago that I was going to turn into a crazy marathoner, I would have laughed at you. I couldn’t even run a mile; there was no way I’d ever run 26 of them. But life has a funny way of working out, and here I am ten years later having run 32 marathons, two virtual ones, and one ultra-marathon.
I know, that sounds like a massive humblebrag, but my point is nearly anyone can become a runner. In my opinion, running is 40% physical and 60% mental. With marathon season upon us, I wanted to give some tips on how you, too, can trick yourself into loving running.
- Set realistic expectations
No one goes into running thinking they will become a marathoner (unless they are insane). If you go in with that mindset, you’re likely to give up. The goal is too daunting. Set realistic, attainable goals. Be easy on yourself. “You ran for three whole minutes? Way to go, buddy!” Progress, ironically, is SLOW. The most worthwhile things in life are difficult and take a long time to obtain. The minutes will eventually add up.
Be aware that your body is going to resist you trying to run in the beginning. It’s going to scream STOP with shortness of breath, muscle pain, and perhaps GI distress (running isn’t always pretty). I promise it eventually gets easier, but it does take a while. Even now, my body hates me some days. Certain days running a mile feels almost insurmountable for no real reason. That sensation becomes more infrequent however, and you build up mental resilience with physical fitness to combat it.
- Set a goal
If I did not have races to train for, I would most definitely not run as much. It makes sense. You’re not going to cram WACC and APV problems if you don’t have a Corporate Finance midterm coming up. You’re not going to spend hours casing if recruiting season isn’t fast approaching/already here. The same holds true for running. Find a 5k or 10k to sign up for in the future. It’ll keep you accountable and motivated. Speaking of…
- Find motivation
There is nothing like an inspiring story, role model, book, podcast, meme, runfluencer, etc. to get you going. I was such a nerd when I was a new runner that I would borrow books from the library on how to train for a marathon. I embarrassingly own “Marathon Training for Dummies.” I did not (and still don’t) follow much of the advice I read, but it kept me driven. These days I like stalking elite runners on Instagram for inspiration. My personal favorite is Shalane Flanagan. She is a 40-year-old Olympic medalist, NYC Marathon winner (at the age of 36!), mom, and overall badass woman. She is currently running 6 marathons in 6 weeks as a personal challenge. Two of which were 24 hours apart. She ran the Chicago Marathon on Sunday, Oct. 10 and the Boston Marathon on Monday, Oct. 11. One of my goals in life is to meet this woman. I also like listening to podcasts about running, while running. It sounds weird, but it works for me. One I have recently gotten hooked on is “Ali on the Run.” Ali is such a positive and fun human. She interviews all different types of runners – from competitors to normal Joes like me. I am biased because Ali interviewed me in September. You can listen to it here.
- Sleep in your running clothes
This is probably one of the weirdest things I do, but I nearly always go to bed with my running clothes on. Whether I am going to bed at 10 p.m. to get up at 4 a.m. for a pre-shift run or I am rolling into bed at 4 a.m. after a big night out, you can find me in weather-appropriate running clothes. It eliminates any question about if I am going for a run when I wake up. I also get out there much faster. Obviously, changing clothes does not take long, but I found I would procrastinate so much more if I had to change before a run. Secondly, I feel guilty if I change out of my running clothes when I don’t go for a run. It’s all psychological and I am okay with that. Try it out.
- Find a running buddy or community
I initially joined a running club for safety reasons, but it turned out to be one of the best decisions I ever made. The club and the workouts push me to be a better runner. I attribute getting faster to the speed and hill workouts I have done with other runners in my club. I never realized I was competitive before joining, but I love pushing myself based on other people’s paces. Plus, it’s fun to talk to other people who actually care about how marathon training is going or what your race day strategy will be. That way I don’t have to bother my other friends with this stuff because, while they love me, they definitely don’t want to hear how my 20-mile run went.
Having a running buddy is the best. Well, I wouldn’t really know because I have never had a consistent one. I can imagine running regularly with the same friend would lead to great stories though, from how that date went to what’s our purpose in life. My running buddy is my 9-month old puppy. She’s not really a talker but she’ll listen. She also loves a good squirrel chase.