So in case you’re new here, I run. And I guess that makes me a runner.
But this is something I struggle with: calling myself a runner.
I officially started running for fun back in the fall of 2014 when I was a junior in college, and by the time I graduated, I thought running 1 mile was a lot.
After graduation, I fell off because I was working full-time and also in grad school part-time until December 2017. I wasn’t happy at my job at the time and going into 2018, I needed something to work on/look forward to, so I started researching 5K races because I thought running 3 miles doesn’t seem hard. (Spoiler alert: it is.)
I’ve been continuously running since April 2018, and to date, I’ve run 11 races (10 5Ks and one 1 mile race). I’ve never been athletic—thanks, exercise-induced asthma—so the fact that I’ve been running for two years is kind of a miracle. I started running because it was something that was accessible—I hate using machines—and I figured it couldn’t be too hard to start doing.
I’m currently looking at my first 10K race in less than two months—the same one I was supposed to run last year but bailed on a month before—and although I’m in training mode, I’m beginning to question A. why I chose running, and B. if I’m actually any good at it.
I still have to stop and walk during my runs, and sometimes I have to stop completely for a minute to catch my breath—darn asthma. Having to do both or either makes me think I’m not a true runner, because I can’t just go for a 4 mile run and be able to run the whole thing and not be wheezing at the end. For some reason, my mind is wired to think that in order to call myself something—in this case, a runner—everything I do relating to it has to be perfect.
When, in reality, I should be focusing on my progress.
I’m running three times a week, and my mileage per run is increasing. Because of my 10K running plan, this week I should be running 5.5 miles—I know I have to have at least one run of that distance, if not two—and every two weeks I increase that number by a half mile. (Since the beginning of December, out of my 13 runs, I’ve only run 3-ish miles three times. Everything else is 4+ miles.) So since I’m running longer distances, my times are naturally longer. And as I’m running further, I’m more focused on building endurance and being able to run longer rather than focusing on my time. But I’m still looking at my times and wondering why I’m so slow.
This is how I’ve become hard on myself lately, wondering why I’m not getting any better, because I’m not getting the times I think I should get, when, in reality, I really don’t know what my times should be. My expectations for the 10K race are to A. finish it, B. be okay with having to walk parts of it, and C. reward myself with beer(s) after. (It is a St. Patrick’s Day race after all.) I’m aiming for a time of about an hour and ten minutes, which will become my PR for a 10K race since this is my first.
This time last year, I was running 5K lengths during my weekly runs, and for most of the year, ran just about that or a little longer. I know that by the middle of March this year, I’ll be running 7 miles (even with walking), and I’ll probably keep up distances of 4-5 miles as I have all of my 5K races later on. I’m hoping that by running a little bit longer, it’ll help my 5K times when I know I only have to run 3.1 miles instead of 5, like I’ll be better at pacing myself.
After rereading this post, I know I should be proud of what I’ve been able to accomplish. And I am. But lately I’ve been overcome with “ugh, I really don’t want to run” and “I’m not good at this” when I’m only looking at the last few weeks of runs rather than the last two years. I need to keep telling myself that it’s okay to walk—it’s going to prevent me from having an asthma attack during a run. Eventually I won’t have to walk. And even if a run is bad, those miles still count. I’m currently battling the New England winter, so I have to adapt to the weather. I’ll run outside as long as it’s not bitterly cold; I’m mostly running inside either on the indoor track on campus or on the treadmill in my basement. Once it gets warmer/nicer out, I’ll definitely run outside more, and I should see an improvement in my times. And those are when the majority of my races are, so it’ll be more reflective of what I can accomplish.
If you’ve made it this far in the post, congrats. I just kind of needed some place to word vomit about running.