Alas, along came running.
It wasn't like I was hooked after one run. It wasn't like that first run was easy. And it didn't change my life in one day. Instead, running seeped quietly and completely into every part of my being while I was distracted. Distracted by running blogs and articles. Distracted by learning the difference between fartleks and tempo runs. Distracted by gels, chews and carbs. Distracted by the ridiculously welcoming running community. And once running had me firmly in its grip, my life changed forever. I was a runner.
Heading into 2014, I was still in distraction mode, so it didn't really dawn on me to make specific running goals. All I knew was that I had stumbled onto something big. Something good. Something life changing. And I didn't want to lose it. My biggest fear was falling out of love with running. I didn't want to do anything to mess it up. Run too much. Do too many races. Get injured. Lose interest.
So, although I hadn't set any goals, the fear of losing running in my life oddly became my subconscious motivator. I ran my first two races in the fall of 2013 and enjoyed them. The training, the challenge, the competition, the learning, the accomplishment and the pride. I was not a sporty kid growing up, so this whole race thing was pretty novel. When I started running, I hadn't really even considered races. But after those first two, I would discover races were an added bonus to running. My competitive nature was revealed. And I came to realize that sometimes the best competitor was myself.
With the positive feeling of those races inspiring me, I decided that training and participating in a spring race should keep me motivated and interested in running over the winter. Signing up for the Toronto Yonge Street 10K gave me a little shot of adrenaline. Sure enough, I was highly motivated to keep training during one of the worst winters Toronto had ever experienced. I didn't miss a day in my schedule. Even on the day of the ice storm I ran in a mile in a covered parking garage!
As winter turned to spring, I researched races and signed up for many. I felt that little shot of adrenaline each time I did. It became the year of the races!
So, now here I sit for the first time reflecting on what was likely the fittest year in my life ever. I managed two personal best distance races which also won age category awards. I trained for and ran five race distances that I had never run before, including a half-marathon. Yes, I did have moments where I was discouraged or disappointed in my progress or results. But in hindsight, I have to remind myself that I am still new to this sport. Everything I do can be a lesson to be learned from and used towards the future.
And what does that mean for 2015?
Races with purpose. I was incredibly inspired by a post in iRun by @AndrewChak about shopping for your next race. In 2014, I think that I was sometimes discouraged by race results because they were not personal bests. But in reality, some of those races should have been run with a different purpose than getting a personal best result. For each race I consider going forward, I want to have a purpose and train for that purpose.
Listen to little twinges. The last thing I want is to be injured and not be able to run. I now stretch after all (okay most) runs and include strength moves that focus on areas that have are more prone.
Add variety. Last year my workouts consisted of pretty much one thing...running. This year I have added cross training, strength training and stretching to my calendar. I have also added more variety to my runs including hill repeats, race-pace pick-ups, easy runs and long runs each week.
Real food fuel. Most of my meals are made from real food ingredients, very minimally processed. I would like to do more testing on real food fuel as well. And trying to minimize the junky indulgences I sometimes have.
Share and learn. I have found such amazing support in the running community and I continue to learn and be entertained by them daily. I've begun sharing my own lessons learned in hopes that I may be able to help someone like me who was like a running information sponge when I starting out.
Lastly, once again I find myself hoping above all that I can keep this love affair with running burning strong through all of 2015 and beyond. Because running is special. It is something big. And because it is life changing. I am a runner.
Total distance run: 1625.76 kilometers
Total number of runs: 218
Average distance: 7.5K