Becoming A Runner

Sunday, July 28, 2013
Three months ago I decided to follow what seemed then a somewhat crazy whim. I decided after decades of wanting to run a marathon, it was finally time to get training. I’ve tried to become a runner countless times but each time, bit off more than I could chew initially. (I should be able to go from not running 10 feet to running 3 miles in a week, right? Wrong.) The last time I attempted running -about five years back – I did pretty well until knee pain reared its ugly head about two months in. I reluctantly hung up my old tired running shoes (no doubt, I realize now, the primary cause of my patellofemoral pain syndrome flare-up at the time) and went to ice my knees. To make matters worse, I was also in the midst of the worst relationship of my life – but that’s another story for another day.

The point is, I spent a good portion of my adult life wanting to run but every time I got the urge to run, I quickly squashed that idea with an assumption that I couldn’t run. While my desire to run never went away, with time, my assumption that it was something I couldn’t do started to fade away. A little over a year ago I realized I wasn’t ready to give up on my dream of running a marathon.

It was time to give running another go, but this time I didn’t want to fail. I knew from past experience that lacing up the closest thing to running shoes I currently had on hand (usually a beat up pair of Adidas) and heading out the door with some half-ass plan of eventually being able to run 26.2 miles just wasn’t going to work. I needed a solid plan. I need structure. I needed to stay injury free. So before I went on my first run this spring I made sure I had:
  • New, but broken in, running shoes. Because I know my body has a predisposition for knee pain, I opted for well-reviewed motion control shoes.
  • A training plan.
  • A goal: Chicago Marathon 2015. 

I used the above training plan for the Color Run to great success. I liked that the plan includes running in the very first week, that it used time rather than mileage to track the running/walking ratio, and that it worked to slowly build up strength, endurance and confidence. Had I set out on day one to run half an hour (or even just fifteen – okay, even five- minutes) I likely would have failed, but by week 8 of following the training plan three days a week, I was totally ready to run 30 minutes without stopping. No big deal.

I’ve spent a lot of time wishing I was a runner and truth be told, even after I finished up the eight week training plan, I felt more like a person who could run rather than a runner. It wasn’t until I went for a run during crafting weekend because I couldn’t imagine going four days without running that I realized, hey, look at that: I’m a runner. And like that my dream of running a marathon turned into a goal.

I credit my success this go around in large part to my advance preparations. I’m also still reaping the rewards from the lessons I learned from reading The Willpower Instinct.

 This past Saturday, I ran six miles without stopping. SIX miles. Running anything more than a 5K seemed downright impossible just three months ago. I’m not speedy by any stretch of the imagination, but I am out there. I am doing this thing.

Now I wonder if my goal of running the Chicago Marathon in 2015 was too modest. In truth, I think I’ll be ready to run a decent distance long before October 2015 and so I’ve been working towards an alternative (albeit somewhat smaller goal) of running a local half marathon next May.

As corny as this will sound, you really can make a habit of doing the impossible. Whatever your goal is, whether it’s running a marathon, writing a novel, paying off your student debt, or whatever, you can get there with a plan, a will, and a large dose of consistency.


  1. Well done Ada! I love your determination and your attitude. Looking forward to reading your post about running in the marathon.

  2. Ditto on what LeAnn said. Although I must admit, I am not a fan of human beings running 26 miles. It is hard on the body. But I admire your fortitude to reach a goal you've always dreamed of. Carry on!

  3. Sure sounds like you've become a runner Ada. I'm with you in spirit until my own knees sort themselves out, until then my trusty stead of two wheels will have to do.
    Goals and will power is a wonderful thing.

  4. I really admire your determination! Way to go!

  5. Amen and amen. I started working out at local bootcamp training center, and it's been about a month. Funny thing is, I actually miss it when I can't make a class. Makes me think it's starting to become a habit now!!

    Way to go!! You are a runner!


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