So I’m a novice runner. I like to do it, and I’m getting better, but I’m still in what I believe to be beginner status.
Why do I say this? I’ve run in 5ks and 10ks. I muddled my way through a sprint triathlon once, so that means I’m not really a beginner, right? In a way, yes. But there is still so much I don’t know about running that I want to know and so much that I’d like to accomplish with the sport.
I’m in the middle of training for my first half marathon. I knew that this training wasn’t like getting ready for a 5k where you get in practice runs a few weeks before the race and that it, this is many weeks filled with many days of different types of running. I joined the Extra Mile Fitness Valpo ½ training program because I had little knowledge of what I needed to do to get ready.
Before it was just make sure to remember to stretch, stay hydrated, find some snazzy running clothes, and buy some comfortable shoes. Now I have to think about:
- When and how much to drink to stay hydrated
- Race pace
- Nutrition (gels and electrolyte pills, what?)
- The way to breathe while running
- What to wear - the wrong pair of socks will indeed mess things up for you
I knew there would be more to learn, so I went to Extra Mile because they would help me. I'm the type of person who needs a goal to stay motivated and people to keep me accountable. The people in the program who are training with me are fantastic. It's a well-seasoned group with people who are in it for multiple reasons. Some are using this program in conjunction with their training for a marathon. The Chicago Marathon is right around the corner and many group members are doing it. Others are using it to beat their previous half marathon race time - I spoke to a woman in the group who said this is going to be her 9th half. She sometimes brings her baby with to training sessions and pushes the wee one in a running stroller.
All of this is incredible to me. I'm nowhere near the caliber of runner that many of my group members are. I'm still a beginner. But they never make me feel bad about it. When we go out each week to train, I'm normally one of the last ones done, and that's fine with me. My goal is to finish the race. My group members were once in my shoes, so they know what I'm feeling. Everyone is very encouraging and helpful. Sometimes they'll run with me or run past and shout, "Good job!"
There is one guy who is super fast and very nice who will run past me, say good job, then turn around and run past me the other way, saying good job again as he passes. I think he's one of the full marathon trainers and he's looking to get in more miles.
The coaches are great. Each one is a certified running coach, and they are always surveying the course, making sure that everyone is doing alright (God bless Michelle for making sure that I stopped getting lost on the long run routes). And Heather Henderlong, owner of Extra Mile Fitness, is also out with us. It's neat to see a business owner so involved with her work.
So I've still got a long way to go, in a figurative and literal sense. Being a beginner never bothers me. I love to learn and watch people do what they do best. When I get more advanced here, maybe I can help someone else who is in the beginning stages of running. Then I'll go and start something new and begin the learning process all over again.