I took part in my first “official run” of my entire life the other day and thought I would share my experience and encourage others to get involved.
Runs are so much more than just running – they are about getting out there and meeting people, about supporting great causes, getting exercise and having a ton of fun. There are few activities that are as fulfilling. I don’t want to get too airy-fairy here – I am simply saying that doing a run accomplishes a lot of goals at once and it feels great.
I have always enjoyed running but here’s the catch: I have asthma that, while fairly mild, limits my endurance. As a result I have spent my life as a short distance sprinter. Despite not being tall I was always really fast, but when it came to long distance running I truly came up short. I can remember taking part in a number of very short distance Terry Fox runs as a teen and hardly being able to run for 10 minutes at a time.
Sprinting served me well as a kid (I was always a champion at tag and track-and-field) but its usefulness fades with age. So I decided that over time I would work on my endurance so that I could focus on running on a consistent basis to stay healthy. A brief stint in the military greatly helped with this goal, as no one pushes you quite as hard as a drill Sergeant; often literally. Before I knew it I had doubled my distance, then tripled it and more. I am still far from my goals today but have come a long way and am proud of my progress.
I took a big step recently by making it out for my first organized run. Held at Etienne Brulé Park, towards the west end of Toronto, the event was Halloween themed and appropriately named “Are You Afraid of the Park?”. The run was organized by a group of students for an event-management project and everything seemed to go off without a hitch, so props to them!
Marathoners or regular runners may chuckle at the fact that the run was only 5KM, however, prior to learning about the event I considered a “good run” at the gym to be about 2-2.5KM. Doubling my typical workout at the gym seemed like quite the stretch considering I had only about a week’s notice by the time I had decided to partake in the run.
My first effort to run 5KM prior to the event failed miserably; I made it to the 3KM mark before stopping, exhausted and unable to continue. The pace I had set for myself was partially to blame. There is a lot of strategy around successfully completing a run (mostly at distances much greater than 5KM) as marathoners surely know.
After adjusting my pace, I was able to complete 5KM at the gym in 37 mins. Come run day I was able to take an average of the two paces I had attempted at the gym to be able to complete the 5KM run in just over 20 mins. Not bad for a first try, right? I was surely excited about my progress. What made the race even more satisfying and fun was that there were obstacles along the way, every KM or so. These obstacle-course-runs are becoming more popular and for good reason; they are a ton of fun!
Perhaps I got carried away with this story. The message I really want to get across is:
Runs are awesome. You will feel amazing, and for a variety of reasons.
- Typically you are helping a charity
- You will feel great about getting a good workout
- You will meet some awesome people
After this experience I greatly look forward to partaking in more runs in the near future. Whether you are running 1, 5 or 42 kilometers, start with what you are comfortable with, and get out there! You won’t regret it!
Feel free to share your own running stories below. Now accepting encouragement.