Make a plan and stick with it.
Running distance, like so many good things, is not something you can just do on the fly. You have to prepare. You have to have a plan. Most of us can’t just get off the couch and run a 5K, but we can over time with some well-thought-out steps. I tried the former and ended up training with the Couch to 5K program, which breaks things into barely-(at the time)-manageable steps.
Whether it’s running a race, getting a degree, or whatever long goal you have, come up with a plan, break it into smaller attainable pieces, and get started.
Follow through, even when you don’t want to.
There will be days where it’s hard to get motivated. It may be cold, or you may be tired or feeling down. Push through the feelings. You will find momentum somewhere, and you’ll be glad you made the effort.
Know the difference between reasons and excuses.
Can’t run because you’re sick? That’s a reason. Can’t run because you are overweight? That might be an excuse, depending on what overweight means to you. The key is to carefully assess whatever is holding you back from achieving your goals. It might be a difficult hurdle to get over, but can you do it with enough grit and support? If something holding you back, start slower, but start. Don’t let excuses keep you from realizing your dream.
Self-care is essential.
Running takes a toll. So does life. After a hard run your body needs time to rest and heal. Enduring the constant trials and tribulations of life requires that you give your mind/emotions space and time to refresh. Sitting down with a good book, getting out into nature, or going for a walk with some good friends may refresh your mind and spirit. Whatever self-care means to you, make sure you make time for it.
Listen to your body, listen to your heart.
Pain is your body’s way of communicating that something is wrong. When I’m running, pain lets me know it’s time to pull back, take some rest days, and maybe even see a doctor. Emotional and spiritual pain are also trying to tell you something. Maybe you are stuck in a rut and need a change. You may be interacting with toxic people and need to pull back. You may need quiet time to reflect on what comes next. Listen to your heart.
You are your own competition.
The race is against yourself. Unless you are the top runner, you are most likely going to rank in the middle somewhere. That doesn’t mean stop striving for what you want. Just give yourself grace. Don’t try to outdo the runner next to you. That person could be the walker-runner you just keep passing, only to be passed by him again. Frustrating! Instead, seek only to be better than you were the time before. This is progress.
Enjoy the cameraderie.
We’re all in this together. Starting a local race is a joyous occasion. Participants come in all ages and ability levels. Their friends and family cheer from the sidelines. We endure the grueling pace and distance in our own way, but together. Life is not meant to be lived alone. Join in, have fun, and make sure you have a great cheering section.
Rewards can be delicious!
You’ve logged the miles; have the smoothie. When you do something hard, when you have followed through on the plan, on each step of the way reward yourself. You’ve got this!
Buy the cute shoes.
I mean, you’ve come this far. Don’t measure yourself by someone else’s standard. Get the dang shoes!