(Today’s guest post is by runner, blogger and friend of Sixty Feet, Jess Soete. She blogs over here, and today she shares three things that have motivated her to finish strong.)
When I was in 8th grade, my best friend promised me if I went out for track she would try out for the dance team. I was terrified. I couldn’t run 3 laps and that one time I tried in 5th grade I ended up hyperventilating.
But for some reason I went for it. She never did try out. And years later, running has become a major staple of my life. So thanks, Staci, for starting a lifelong love affair between running and me.
I started young, yes, but I ran short distances. Three or four miles with my dad or an 800 on the track was about as far as I would go. I pole vaulted in college.
That’s fourteen steps. Just fourteen steps.
My dad and I always talked about training for a marathon together but before we ever got around to training, I had graduated college and life started to get busy. I quit running and started my career. And I met a darling man who I eventually married.
That man? He was a college cross country runner. A couple years into our marriage we started running together. When we could comfortably run 3-4 miles, he convinced me to go for it and sign up for our first half marathon. I had never run 5 miles at one time in my whole life and had kind of convinced myself I couldn’t do it. But one step at a time, I got through. And eventually finished my first marathon with my life-partner-turned-training-partner right next to me.
|The two men I’ve run through life with: my husband and my dad|
That was four years ago. This fall we’ll finish our seventh half marathon and second full marathon. You could say we’re full-on hooked. But how did we get from good intentions to good finish times? Here are three things I think made the difference for me:
1. Find Your People:
|Dad, Mom, husband, me, and our family friend all at the finish line|
Running community, like any community these days, doesn’t have to be the people next door. I mean, my running partner is my husband. But our running community spans much further than that. Our “community” for us is our family. For the fifth time, my mom, dad, brother, sister-in-law, husband, and several good friends will all travel together this fall. We’ll run together. We’ll celebrate victory and enjoy BBQ together. But the most important part of all of this is we’ll do it together. No, we won’t all cross the finish at the exact time but we’ll all be waiting for everyone else and we’ll cheer just as loud for the first finisher as we do for the last. Because in a fun way, we’re a team.
If your family doesn’t run, that’s ok. Just find someone who will support you in this running thing. It’s a lifestyle, if only for the few months you train. Running takes lots of commitment to rise early and take care of yourself and get in the miles instead of doing other activities. True story: we’ve been known to wake up at 4am to get a run in before a college football game (my family’s other favorite pastime). Not everyone will understand this. And you don’t need them to. But you need one person who you know will lace up and be waiting at 4am. Otherwise, you might be tempted to bail. Plus, it’s just way more fun to spend 2-4 hours running if you’re out there with somebody else.
2. Find Your Gear
You’ll find blogs, articles, neighbors, and everyone else who will tell you exactly what you need to run. Don’t believe them. Find what works for you.
Get fitted for shoes. No really. Don’t buy them cheap off the internet. Don’t buy them based on what colors are your favorite. Don’t buy them based on the latest fad. Get fitted by a professional and wear what works for your body.
Other gear I can’t live without:
- armband for my phone–music is a huge motivator for me
- good socks!! I wear Smart Wool but each person has a favorite brand. Bottom line: they are probably going to be expensive but blisters are just not worth the money remaining in your pocket from buying cheap socks.
- spandex–it’s not always pretty but the first time you chafe your legs so bad that you can’t move after a long run you’ll know why runners wear skintight spandex shorts
- water belt–you’ve gotta stay hydrated and this is a good way to “wear your water.” My husband actually wears one for the both of us
- fuel belt–whether it’s beans, gels, blocks, or potatoes like I use (yes, actual potatoes), you’ll have to find somewhere to put them. A fuel belt is a great option. It’s essentially a mini fanny pack but with better street cred.
- training schedule–I’m a Hal Higdon convert. Some use apps. Whatever you use, write it down and do the best to stick to it. And when you don’t stick to it, forgive yourself and get back out there
3. Find your purpose
I’ve found running is easier when I can put my heart into it. I love being a charity runner. It makes getting up and putting in the miles each day so much easier. Because it’s no longer for me. It’s in the name of someone who needs it so much more. It’s dedication to real people who need real help. And that’s exactly what you can do if you run for Team Sixty Feet. On those days where the muscles ache just enough to want to keep you in bed, you get to remember you’re running for kids who can’t. If that last training mile just seems impossible, you get to picture kids who need advocates. Kids who need freedom. That blister? It won’t seem quite so bad. After all, you get to jump in the shower and relax when you get home. Life is simple isn’t it? Even when running is hard, running for a purpose reminds me running is a blip on the trial radar. It’s a blessing I get to run. And even more of a blessing that something I love to do can actually help others.
So that’s it. Find your people, find your gear, find your purpose. And, of course, find your celebration! I believe in celebrating big after any accomplishment. My favorite celebration? BBQ ribs and a glass of champagne.
So get going.
You can’t celebrate what you don’t start.