I was never athletic growing up. (If my Dad were alive today he would laugh because that is SUCH AN UNDERSTATEMENT.) I naturally gravitate towards the television, rather than to the gym. However, I have had several friends over the years go from SITTER to RUNNER and in 2006 I found myself thinking maybe I could do the same. I tried for 5 years with various “Beginner” training programs to run half-marathons. I was never able to run all 13.1 miles due to failure to really hold to any of the programs. Turns out I don’t self-motivate well. Or at all. I was starting to assume I would never be a runner.
After having some success this year getting in shape with boot camp, and learning to ignore my own limitations; I thought I’d give running a try again. My husband and other friends had numerous successes in doing the training programs at Fleet Feet, but I just didn’t feel like it was something that would work for me. But, after 5 years of failing doing it MY way, I finally signed up for the Mizuno 13.1 training program in August. I ran more than 300 miles before the big race. I was so ready for that half-marathon, I wasn’t even nervous. Here is why I think this program worked for me, and why it would work for anyone else:
- They held me accountable. Both the coaches and the participants noticed if I wasn’t there. If I missed one group run, they’d ask me at the next one if I did it on my own. It’s much easier to lie to yourself than it is to other people, it turns out.
- The lead coach built a program that gradually led me to being able to run the distance. I was terrified at first because I was barely able to do 5-6 miles on my own. The program said I would do 14 miles…TWICE…before the race. But you know what? I stuck to the running schedule she gave us and BAM. I’ve done just that. Run 14 miles already…TWICE.
- There are plenty of other coaches who are wonderful and supportive. No matter what my pace or skill level, there was a coach who helped me along the way. Some helped me cut seconds off my
speedwork, others taught me how to make it through the tough miles on the official course.
- I did training exercises I would never do on my own. We ran hills and did speedwork at a track. There is no way I would have EVER done that stuff on my own but it turns out? It really helps you when you do it. Who knew?
- Running in groups is great! If you have a big enough group, there is bound to be one or two people that can run about your pace. These small little groups that would form during our long runs made the miles fade away. I spent about seven miles one run talking Harry Potter with another participant. EASIEST SEVEN MILES EVER.
- The camaraderie. I was sad when it came time to say goodbye to the other participants. We’d been on the battlefield together for 13+ weeks. We’d helped each other through injuries and successes. We’d pushed each other when we needed pushing and we slowed down for each other when we needed support.
Now, you may think: There’s no way I could ever run 13.1 miles!. But let me tell you something – every single one of these things that I’ve mentioned are there in ALL of the training groups. Whether you start out with their No Boundaries 5K or if you do their 26.2 marathon training program. You’ll find tons of supportive coaches and running buddies. You’ll get guidance for your struggles and you’ll have cheerleaders for your successes.
I just can not tell you enough how much I loved this group and hate that it took me so long to finally sign up for it. Don’t make the same mistake I did. If you want to try to run something, whether it’s a 5K or a full-marathon, keep an eye out at Fleet Feet Training and sign up at the first chance you can. There should be several new programs (5K, 10K, 13.1, and 26.2) launched in the beginning of this year. It’s worth every penny you’ll spend and then some. I guarantee you when they do another 13.1 training program in the Spring, I’ll be the first to sign up.
Until then, I hope to see you around at other Fleet Feet training events, because it turns out this is quite an addictive hobby.
Consider that your warning.