Before moving to Oregon, the longest distance I had ever run was the dreaded mile in high school. I was a pretty active kid, but I was involved in activities that where shorter spurts of energy as opposed to enduring hours of high intensity cardio. Running held absolutely no appeal to me if it lasted more than a one minute sprint. It was partially because I thought it was boring and also because I was pretty bad at it. I was busy enough without adding on another athletic hobby.
Then the whole adult life thing happened, and I didn't have any dance classes or cheerleading practices to attend. I sort of didn't really know what to do with myself, so I started running and doing some light weight training at my college gym. But by running I mean running a handful of miles at too fast of a pace and completely burning out. Definitely not sustainable or healthy.
Fast forward to me working at an athletic footwear and apparel company that started out as a running shoe company. That combined with the fact that I live in Portland, OR, one of the fittest cities in the country, convinced me to try this whole running thing again. I started out by doing some research about running and how to get better at it. I would do the whole run a couple minutes, walk a minute, and try to stretch the time between walks on the treadmill. After a couple months of doing this, I tried my first "long" run which ended up being 5 miles. At the time that distance sounded absolutely crazy, but I was able to get myself through the whole thing with a couple of short walking breaks.
As I became more comfortable with running, I decided that I wanted to start doing some races. I started out with a couple 5ks (3.1 miles) and built my way up from there. It made me SO much more motivated to run when I knew I had a race coming up. I'd plot out how many miles I'd run and what days I'd shoot to run on. I'd also plan in some strength training classes (pilates or yoga) to round out my training. Although I started out slow, I progressed each week in the number of miles I could run. My pace picked up a bit as well.
All of these good vibes helped convinced me to sign up for my first half marathon. I really had no idea if I could actually do it, but the excitement of participating in a fun race (I did one of the Run Nike Women's Races) and a solid training plan help me reach my goal of running 13 miles.
I never considered myself a runner. I felt like a fraud as I laced up my running shoes and signed up for a half marathon. But here's the thing- all you have to do to be a runner is start*. That's it. You don't have to run 8 minute miles, or run a single mile at all. You can train and practice from running a full mile without walking to running a half marathon. And the best thing about it is that running doesn't cost $20 a class or have any kind of monthly payment. You can go outside anywhere and just run. And once you do that, you will join an amazing community of runners who would be more than happy to give you tips along the way (or else you learn the hard way- body glide anyone?). You will also gain a great hobby that helps keep your body in shape that you can do anywhere, even if you travel often. I'm proud to call myself a runner, and I hope that others out there who are intimidated to give it a try.
*It's important to note that obviously I'm not suggesting that people with chronic injuries should start running. Always check with your doctor when it comes to injuries and what exercises will benefit your body the most.