Recently I ran my second 10K race. I have run a half marathon in the past as well, but something fell into place on this run that really surprised me; quite a few things to be honest.
My intentions to run this particular 10K started out as a way to gauge where I was in my training for my upcoming half marathon in August (I use the term training lightly 🙂 ). The surprise to me was this run didn’t end up being about a single goal of beating a personal best, it ended up being much more.
My brain was there along the route, but ran its own race of reflection, discouragement, and optimism. It had its own agenda and there were only slight moments where it tuned back in to say “Where did the last 7Km go? Only 3 left? You go girl!”. Maybe it was the energy of the other 15,000 runners that made it easy for my brain to wander as I knew they would keep my feet moving forward. Perhaps it was just the early sun-filled morning without coffee that kept my mind clear and out of a caffiene induced fog. Undoubtedly my feet were fine on their own and carried me through 10K knowing it wasn’t as far as it seemed a few years ago and I learned more about myself in 1 hour and 4 minutes than I have in a year and a half of training at the gym.
1. Physical fitness is important, but mental fitness is everything.
Had I not visualized myself running across that finish line (rather than walking as I did in my first 10K and the half marathon) I would not have done it. I had moments when my running app interrupted my power music to let me know my pace, time and distance where I calculated that I might not quite make my target time, but I quickly forgot and reminded myself that it did not matter as I had not stopped to walk even once. I made mental notes at each distance marker that it was not 4Km more, it was 6Km accomplished. I reminded myself periodically that I was running because I can and because it feels great. I even reserved a tiny bit of energy to not just run across that finish line but to sprint.
2. Running is more than just feet to pavement. Scenery is huge motivation.
I ran through neighbourhoods in my own city I had never seen and ran beside people I do not know and may never see again. I even got a sunburn at 7am as it truthfully did not occur to me to apply sunscreen as it was a mere 10 degrees celsius when the starting gun fired.
There is something to be said for appreciating where you run. Most of my runs are along a ridge that not only overlooks the amazing Bow River, but has the Canadian Rockies as a backdrop. I can even spot the downtown core on clear days.
3. Personal best time doesn’t necessarily equal a personal best run.
I have learned that running isn’t solely about running fast. I would love nothing more than to clock a great time, but I have realized that all I want out of running is the “runner’s high”. I only crave the “I did it” feeling as there have been some days when I’ve pushed myself to break my previous best only to get home and mope around because I didn’t accomplish what I’d set out to do. I have learned to focus on simply finishing and who cares how long it took, I finished, period.
4. Alone or overwhelmed?
Running a race has the feeling of both running alone and running with the largest run group around. I ran alone in this race meaning I didn’t have a close running buddy with me to talk my way through 10Km of pavement. Yet all around me were people with the same motivations – to finish 10K. Imagine complete strangers engaging in a silent conversation.
5. Running for myself with encouragement from others.
Although I ran for myself and not to prove anything to anyone else, I was a tiny bit jealous of all the family and friends cheering on the runners. It never occurred to me to ask for encouragement at that finish line!
6. Run? I thought you said Rum!
Those cheesy signs people hold up along the route really do help! What also helps is verbal encouragement from complete strangers. They may not be personally directed to me, but who cares? I can make it personal and know I’m the one running.
7. I love sleep.
I am not a morning person. Somehow I managed to drag my butt out of bed during the wee hours on a Sunday and run. It was an odd feeling of complete accomplishment and almost euphoric as I looked at the clock around 9:30am to realize how awake and alive I felt. It was a better feeling than having slept 12 hours. Who knew?
8. I’m not a stereotypical runner… or maybe I am?
An image of a “runner” may conjure up a certain stereotype but until I really looked around, I also bought into that concept. (Think lean, fast, determined look on their face.) Runners really do come from all walks of life and fitness levels. Unless you are an elite runner, all stereotypes go out the window. I ran with so many different people it would have been hard to sum up an image in one sentence. Running is one of those sports where all you need is a good pair of running shoes and a stretch of road. Even socio-economic backgrounds are irrelevant once you lace up those shoes.
9. Anywhere, anytime.
Running really is one of the few things I can do anywhere at anytime. I don’t need any fancy equipment or specific venue and I don’t have to formally book a time to run. I just have to get out the door and go.
10. No one looks good in pictures after a 10K run.