I had a bit of an epiphany on Wednesday morning as I voluntarily spent 40 minutes running up flights stairs at the Hollywood Bowl with November Project Los Angeles. (A little background on November Project, it's a free fitness movement in 30 different cities. Anyone and everyone is encouraged to #JustShowUp to workout with a supportive, inclusive and bad ass group of people. It's the most fun you will ever have working out and if they're in your city, figure it out and become a part of the tribe.) Towards the end of the workout, when I felt like collapsing but managed to continue forward, I thought, "When did this become possible?"
I've run 5 marathons now and the morning of every single one of them, I sat in my bed thinking, "There's no way I can do this." But I can! And I do! The same thing happens when I have to do push ups. I have convinced myself that I can't do a single push up, then I try, and realize I can do a bunch. (OK like 7-10 but still!) I can't seem to wrap my head around the fact that I can do 5 push ups or run a marathon because I still think of myself as an un-athletic person. Wednesday was the first time that I didn't look up at the GIANT bowl before we took off and decide (or even think), "Nope. I can't do this." I just went.
Before I started running, I used to Google "What can I do to make running easier" in hopes that I could figure out how to enjoy running. Honestly, I don't think running gets easier! I think you end up addicted to what running does for your life and you learn to love how you feel when you know you're putting your strongest foot forward. So even though it hurts, it stops feeling hopeless and impossible...does that make sense? If you need more convincing, here are 8 ways to make running "easier"-
1. Don't do it alone if you don't have to.
It's not impossible to become a runner on your own but if you can, make running friends. Go show up to a November Project in your city, join a Lululemon or Nike Run Club, they are both free! Turn to Google to see if there's a running club in your city that you could join. It doesn't matter if you can't run a mile to save your life, you will never be left behind. The running community is so supportive and inclusive, all you have to do is show up. Find a support system! I trained for my first half marathon and marathon alone and didn't run with another human being for an entire year so yes, I know it's doable. I regret not getting over my fear of running with anyone else sooner.
2. Set some stakes.
If you hate running, why do you want to run? There are probably 800 other things you can do to get your heart rate up that will suck infinitely less than running during those first few weeks. Netflix is one sneaky bastard and if you're going to find a way to motivate yourself to go for a run after a 10 or 12 hour day instead of sitting on a couch enjoying Netflix, you have to care A F*CKING LOT. Had I not been going through what I was going through, I probably never would have start running. I was in so much pain after losing my brother that running a marathon sounded like a better option than sitting on the couch. That's how big my stakes were. Find a reason to run a race or a certain distance. Losing weight for your wedding? Great goal! But those stakes aren't high enough. Make it personal and then make it count.
3. Write your goals down.
Running feels impossible because it seems unattainable. It's probably impossible for you to picture the day when you will take off and think, "Man this is easy and fun. I definitely don't regret running today!" But that day is so much closer than you think! That's why I suggest signing up for a race like a 5K, a 10K or a half marathon. (You can go for a marathon but...only if you REALLY want to). Then, get a training plan and every week, right down on a calendar that you can see with your eyes what days you are goint to run and how far you are going to go. Be painstakingly specific. When you do that, you box out doubts. When you know what you have to do, running feels a tiny bit less awful and impossible.
4. Celebrate the tiny wins.
Celebrate every single time you do what you set out to do. When it comes to running it is not one giant step, it's a billion tiny ones. You don't have to go forward, you just have to go. You may feel like you're running in place or in circles but as long as you're running, it doesn't matter. You'll go forward eventually.
5. Find some inspiration.
Online there are millions of supportive runners looking to build each other up. From Runner's World, to Reddit, Twitter, and Instagram, there are tons of people who are just getting started and ready to support you every step of the way. Go find them. Use them.
6. Get distracted.
Music, podcasts, books on tape, other people you can converse with, mind games-these are a few of the many ways you can distract yourself when you run. Some people run without music. I had to learn how to do that so find what works for you!
7. Keep track of your progress!
From a selfie every run to a few simple thoughts, there will come a day when you will look at those logs and think, "Look how far I've come." It's the best feeling in the world. Don't rob yourself of that moment. Keep track of your progress!
8. Be patient.
Don't get discouraged if, at three months, you are still are struggling. For some people it takes a few weeks and others it takes months. If you're at the 2 or 3 month mark and it still sucks, it may be time to change things up. Find different people to run with or a new way to cross train. Running really is a mental sport and chances are, you just need more time. Be patient.
JUST DON'T GIVE UP! Set a goal and work to make it a reality. And most importantly, try to have fun! Running isn't impossible, it just isn't easy! You can do it. Just take that first step.
Until next time, #RunSelfieRepeat.